turkish coffee in a small traditional cup and saucer that says "How To Make Turkish Coffee (In 6 Steps)"

How to Make Turkish Coffee (6 Steps)

Turkish Coffee is a brewing tradition which originated in the Middle East, yet is regularly enjoyed by coffee-lovers worldwide. In order to brew this tasty, bold drink at home, you'll need:

  • An Ibrik pot, sometimes referred to as a "cezve."
  • Water, either room temperature or cold.
  • Coffee beans and a (burr) grinder, or finely pre-ground coffee.
  • A measuring teaspoon. A Turkish teaspoon is preferred, but metric works, too.
  • A stovetop. Gas and electric burners are both suitable.
  • A small spoon, for stirring.
  • Sugar (optional).
  • Turkish Coffee set (optional).

Turkish Coffee is unique and fun to make, but it isn't the easiest brew method to master. With a little practice, however, the results are rewarding. Some steps below go into considerable detail, so feel free to glean what you need from this post.

You might be wondering where to start, as well as which type of beans you need for a great Turkish brew. Look no further! This article will address everything from the right beans to grinding process and brewing technique. We will then wrap up with troubleshooting, in case you encounter any issues along the way.

a copper ibrik sitting on a countertop

 

Which Type of Coffee Should You Use?

Although many prefer a medium-light roast for Turkish Coffee, you can use any type of bean you'd like. Most favor Arabica beans, although I urge you to experiment and find which coffee best suits you. If you have a strong preference for light vs dark, there's no need to switch now.

We recommend our Papua New Guinea beans for Turkish Coffee. This medium roast Arabica bean will yield balanced, yet deep and complex flavor that makes for an enjoyable Turkish Coffee.

Whatever beans you choose, you'll want to ensure they are fresh. You might experience bad luck buying beans off the shelf. Boom Coffee fulfills orders in a timely manner so that our beans arrive fresh from our roasters, every time.

Not only is freshness important for taste, but fresher beans will produce a better foam. This sought-after foam (which I will explain later) is the hallmark of Turkish Coffee.

coffee beans inside a hand grinder chamber

Grind Size

The importance of grind size in creating a an exquisite cup of Turkish Coffee cannot be over-emphasized. I struggled with a blade grinder for a week before realizing that it wasn't consistently making grounds fine enough for proper Turkish Coffee. I then purchased an inexpensive hand burr grinder from Amazon.
This grinder works like a charm, produces very fine powder, and costs only $13. A note on the grinder shown below: The internal screw below the grinding mechanism needed to be tightened a bit in order to achieve a super fine grind.


Although you might get away with an espresso grind, Turkish Coffee grounds should be even finer than espresso grounds. You will know that the consistency is right when the grinds feel soft and fluffy like powdered sugar.

a teaspoon of finely ground coffee

If you're willing to drop a bit more on a grinder, consider a plug-in burr grinder. These can range anywhere from $40 (sometimes available at Costco) to hundreds or more for a commercial unit. 

With your Ibrik and finely ground coffee on hand, you are well on your way to brewing a wonderfully distinctive cup of coffee!


1.  Add Water

Fill the Ibrik with cold water, up to just below the neck. I leave a tiny bit of room below the neck, since the coffee grounds will add a bit of volume. The combination of proper water level, the timing of your stirs, and water-to-coffee ratio are all crucial.

water being poured into an Ibrik

Why Use Cold Water?

There are several reasons cold water is preferred for Turkish Coffee. First, cold water is typically fresher out of the faucet, since it hasn't been sitting inside the boiler of your plumbing system.

Second, since cold water takes longer to heat up, the coffee grounds you're about to add will have more time to settle in your pot. You will discover that these very fine, lightweight grounds don't settle very quickly or easily.

The entire process takes patience, but the results are worth it!


2. Add Your Finely Ground Beans

Two level teaspoons of very finely ground beans is the appropriate amount for making 1 - 2 cups of coffee. For a stronger brew, make it two heaping teaspoons. However, beware that adding excessive grounds can leave some suspended in the water, which produces a mouthful of unpleasant grit on your first sip.

an ibrik brewing on a gas burner

3. Turn Your Heat Source On

Whether you're cooking on a gas or electric stove, make sure you keep your heat source low through the entire process. I typically set my burner to the "2" setting for the first minute, then dial down to between 1 and 2 for the remainder of the process. Slowly brewing at a low temperature ensures that your grounds have time to settle, and fully release their array of flavors into the water.

Now is the time to add sugar, if you so desire. One cube / teaspoon of sugar should provide proper sweetness, but you can adjust to your own liking.

4. Gently Stir the Pot

After the heat source has been set, gently swirl the grounds around, with your small spoon no more than an inch below the surface. With the correct, gentle swirling motion, the grounds atop will begin to settle, allowing the foam (or crema) to start forming on the surface. You should see this process happening rather quickly.


stirring a pot of turkish coffee
I like to gently swirl once at the beginning, and once more about a third of the way into brewing. If you still see a rough, grind-laden surface after swirling the top for a second time around, you may have too high a grind-to-water ratio.

5. To Boil, or Not To Boil?

As I mentioned earlier, there are many approaches to Turkish Coffee. Some sources will tell you to boil the pot, remove it from heat, boil it again, and remove it again from the heat.

But bringing your pot to a boil will quickly ruin the delicate foam that forms atop the brew, as well as alter the coffee's taste. Avoid this brewing blunder! Watch your pot and keep the heat low, and never boil it.

I find it's important to control your heat source so that if you start to see hints of boiling over, you can quickly remove it from the heat source to stop it from progressing. The telltale sign of your pot reaching near-boil is tiny bubbles showing up on the crema. This is fine -- just keep a close eye on the pot.

Again, you don't want your coffee to come to a boil, rather for the foam to form and slowly expand. This is more of a near-boil.

I typically remove the Ibrik around nine minutes into the brewing process, after the foam has somewhat darkened. If you desire a stronger brew, prolong heating for a couple extra minutes, remaining at a very low heat setting.

Be patient! The entire process should last 7-10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your coffee.

a wristwatch and a pot of turkish coffee

6. How To Serve

After removing from your heat source, place the Ibrik on a heat-resistant surface and let it sit for three more minutes. This will ensure that as many grounds will settle as possible before enjoying it.

a pot of turkish coffee sitting on a stovetop

Turkish Coffee is traditionally served with a glass of water, to cleanse the palette before each sip of coffee. Milk or cream are both optional, and not a traditional option. I recommend serving this coffee with a pastry or sweet, because it tends to come out as a tasty, bitter extract, somewhat close to espresso. Turkish Coffee is best enjoyed in smaller, espresso-sized cups, because of its richness and strength.

Practice Makes Perfect

You might not achieve a perfect foam or non-gritty cup on first try, but chances are it will taste great anyway. As a perfectionist, I experimented with over dozen pots of Turkish Coffee until I figured out all of the above, but I enjoyed every minute of it, as this is a unique and involved brewing process. With this guide based on my trial and error, you should find it much easier than I did!
 If you encounter any challenges, change one variable for each pot, until you achieve your perfect cup.


a cup of turkish coffee in a traditional cup and saucer

Additional tips

  • If you can't achieve a foam/crema, there are several possible problems: Your grind might not be fine enough, your beans might not be fresh enough, and/or you may have the coffee-to-water ratio wrong.
  • If your first sip contains coffee grounds, try letting the cup and/or Ibrik settle for a few more minutes. The drink may lose some heat, but at least you get a chance to enjoy your craft.
  • When serving, pour slowly into your coffee cup/s. If you're pouring several portions, the second cup might contain less floating grounds than the first. I prefer drinking several very small cups from my traditional Turkish Coffee set. Not only does the smaller, espresso-style cup provide a better taste experience, but each pour from a single pot tastes slightly different.
  • Once you reach the bottom quarter of the cup, sip with caution! You will soon be reaching the grounds that settled on the bottom. The same goes for pouring to the end of a pot: Drinker beware, grounds lie ahead.

an empty cup of turkish coffee with grounds in the bottom

Do you have your own tips or tricks to add, or a unique process for Turkish Coffee? Has this article helped you sort out any brewing challenges you previously experienced? Please share these in the comments section below.

 

Article by Scott Mason -- commercial photographer, writer, and life-long coffee addict.

 

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Comments

daniel boom

I love Turkish coffee, but I knew my method could be improved. This helped a ton! Thank you.

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