Turkish coffee is the oldest way of making coffee. This is a short article answering frequently asked questions about Turkish coffee. You can also post your question as a comment and I'll do my best to answer it.
Questions are in bold.
What kind of coffee must I use for Turkish coffee?
Turkish coffee nowadays is usually made of Latin American blends. Usually the blends contain two kinds of coffee: Arabica and Robusta. Except for the Latin American coffees the blends may also include coffees from Asia or Africa. Some of the best coffees for Turkish blends come from Brazil, Ethiopia and Yemen.
Should I use a coffee particularly made for Turkish coffee or can I use any blend?
Turkish blends are created in a special way to be optimized for Turkish coffee making. Most people that drink the popular Turkish coffee brands are used to a special characteristic taste. This doesn't mean that you cannot use another coffee blend to make Turkish coffee. For example you can use an espresso blend. The only requirement is that it must be ground very fine like powder. If it isn't ground fine enough there will be no foam on top of the coffee after you make it and the taste will be weak.
So, in other words you can experiment with any blend you want if you grind it fine enough for Turkish coffee. The taste will be different than the usual though.
Is it healthy?
Turkish coffee is as healthy as any regular coffee. Actually according to some some researches a quantity of two small Turkish coffee cups (demitasse cups) can be beneficial for the heart. If you exceed this amount then it may become bad for your health like any other coffee. Bear in mind that Turkish coffee is made almost as quickly as instant coffee but it's far better for your health.
What is this thick thing on top of Turkish coffee? Is it like espresso?
When you make Turkish coffee properly you will notice on top a layer of dark, thick and homogeneous foam. This is also known as kaimaki in Greece. If the coffee doesn't have kaimaki then something is definitely wrong with the coffee making:
small quantity of coffee used
not properly heated
ground coarser than required
very stale coffee
In some Eastern countries it is an insult to serve Turkish coffee without this special foam on top.
Kaimaki foam is looks similar to the espresso crema but it very different in terms of physical properties. The espresso crema is formed not only due to heat but also because of high pressure so it's quite different.
Do I need any special expensive equipment for Turkish coffee?
Making Turkish coffee is very easy and very fast. All you need is a small coffee pot and a heat source. You can use a small stainless steel pot and your electric stove top but it's preferable to use a traditional copper or brass Turkish pot. Regarding the heat source it's better to use low fire to make the coffee. A gas burner or an alcohol burner is my favorite heat source for home use.
What size coffee pot do I need?
This is a question that creates a lot of misunderstandings. Basically it depends on how much coffee you are going to make each time.
First, what you need to know is that you will need a coffee pot that holds approximately double the amount of coffee. This is because coffee must have enough room in the pot to foam up and furthermore because of the so-called "oven effect".
Let me explain...
Traditional Turkish coffee pots have an hourglass shape. This special shape creates an oven-like effect when making Turkish coffee. The oven-effect is highly desirable for better taste. The only requirement for this "oven-effect" is to fill the pot till the point where the pot diameter is smaller. Usually this means a half-full pot.
So, If you want to make two demitasse cups, for you and your friend, you will need a 4 demitasse-cup size coffee pot.
Please note that sizing differs among manufacturers. So instead of looking for a 4-cup size coffee pot look for a coffee pot that holds 4*60ml which equals 240ml. 60ml or approximately 2oz is the size of a demitasse cup.
What about a coffee pot for just one cup?
In this case you will need a coffee pot that holds 2*60ml=120ml coffee.
What about one normal cup?
One normal cup is approximately 250ml so you will need a 500ml pot.
These numbers are not exact. They are just guides to help you. Most of the times buying a bit smaller coffee pot will also be adequate.
Can I grind Turkish coffee with my coffee grinder?
Turkish coffee is ground at the most fine grind setting. Most grinders for home use are incapable of grinding so fine. If you have a blade grinder consider upgrading to a burr grinder. This doesn't mean that every burr grinder can grind Turkish coffee. So if you are in the market in research of a burr grinder make sure it has a Turkish coffee setting. Some burr grinders don't have a Turkish coffee setting but they can be modified very easily to grind fine enough for this coffee. This information can be easily found if you make a couple of searches in a search engine.
Another solution are manual-operated Turkish coffee grinders. These grinders are much cheaper than burr grinders and because of their low speed coffee is ground gently without getting heated. In cheap burr grinders because of the small burr dimensions the rotating speed is higher. This way the friction is bigger and the heat generation is higher. More heat means more coffee taste destruction! So in other words small grinding speeds of manual grinders are better for your palate! The big drawback is that this sort of grinding can remind you of manual labor sometimes...
Is there any special way to serve Turkish coffee? Any special tradition?
If you have guests and you want to impress them with your coffee making mastery and your hospitality you can do some simple things. First use a big traditional looking serving tray and put some glasses of water for your guests. Water is used to clean the mouth before tasting the coffee. Prepare the coffees immediately before serving time so that they keep their kaimaki foam and their temperature. You can pair the coffee with some cookies or muffins.
For dessert after the coffee you can offer traditional Turkish delight or baklava. Your guests will be grateful!
If you have any questions about Turkish coffee please post your comments. Enjoy!