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Friday, September 28, 2012

How to Make Turkish Coffee

A.k.a. Arabic Coffee

How to Make Turkish Coffee

Some of you who follow me on Twitter, FB and Google+ know that I like to send out notices for funky national food days!  I tell myself I'll prepare recipes and things to coincide with food days, but very, very rarely get around to doing it in time.  Well September 29th is National Coffee Day, and in honour of that, I managed to get it together to share some info and directions for making Turkish coffee, my favorite coffee drink. 

I’m not sure I would have made it through grad school were it not for Turkish coffee. It wasn't necessarily the caffeine, but the short yet satisfactory ritual of making it that I found therapeutic.  In fact, I almost never drink coffee unless it’s Turkish style.  It's relatively easy enough to make, just finely ground beans and water boiled together.  That is, unless you happen to be a Turkish coffee connoisseur (I'm not, but I try), in which case it’s a fine art!

So what is Turkish Coffee?

Turkish coffee is a strong, bitter yet often also sweet coffee that is differentiated from regular coffee by the grind of the beans and the style of preparation.  Turkish coffee is made from finely ground coffee beans (much finer than regular coffee) boiled over medium to high heat the extract the most flavour from the grounds.  The grounds can be found in most Middle Eastern, Turkish, Iranian or other ethnic stores, and are usually labelled something like “Turkish coffee”, Turkish style grounds” or “Arabic coffee”. 

It is actually called by various names throughout Turkey, Greece, the Balkans, the Middle East, Iran, North Africa and elsewhere.  The style of preparation varies, too.  Those with real skill obtain a nice amount of foam without burning the coffee and ruining the flavour.  Most of the rest of us just try to make it without the pot boiling over…

In most Arab countries they refer to this style of coffee as Arabic coffee, or just coffee.  If you order coffee in a regular street ahwa or qahwa (literally meaning coffee in Egyptian Arabic, but referring to a more traditional style coffee shop vs Starbucks style), they will usually ask if you want “ahwa Arabiyya, or Nescafe?” This is because Nescafe is the usual alternative to Arabic style coffee :)  

Oh yeah, I confess that I drink Nescafe sometimes, too.  It reminds me of the time I spent in Cairo a few years ago, and my apartment on the 25th floor with a little deck overlooking the Nile... 

Turkish Coffee Pot

So how do you prepare Turkish Coffee?

Turkish coffee is usually prepared in a special aluminum or copper pot, and served in either small glasses, or beautifully decorated cups like espresso cups – as I did here.  This pot is not entirely necessary, you can do this in a regular, small pot. 
I have some beautiful cups my sister actually brought me from Turkey, but they are currently wrapped in newspaper in a box in my mother’s basement, as my husband and I live like gypsies trekking back and forth between countries as he finishes his PhD.  You can usually find these pots and sets of cups along with the coffee grounds. 

Everyone I’ve ever known that has made this makes it good and sweet, and usually with a bit of cardamom for flavour.  The sweetener and cardamom are optional, but I highly recommend you try it that way at least once!


1 cup water
1 Tablespoon Turkish coffee grounds
1 tsp sugar, honey or sweetener of choice, or more to taste (optional)
1-2 cardamom seeds (optional)


1. Over medium-high heat bring the cup of water to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the sugar if using.  Then add the grounds and cardamom and stir.  Do not stir again after this point. 

2. Return to heat and bring to a slow boil, just enough to that the coffee begins to foam.  Pour into cups and serve.  Here, I’ve served it with a few square of rose-flavoured Turkish delight for the full effect! 

Oh, and don't be surprised by the bitter sludge resting at the bottom of your cup afterwards.  Don't drink that, it's nasty.  It's just the grounds congealed down there.  Don't be grossed out, my husband actually dilutes it with a bit of water and swills it down, but I'd only do that if I wanted to grow hair on my chest...

Now sometimes, when you happen to be drinking coffee in someone's living room in the Middle East, and the men are out of the room, someone's aunt or grandmother might even offer to read your coffee grounds, and your fortune, after you've finished your coffee...

Happy National Coffee Day, everyone! 
How do you like YOUR coffee? 


  1. Hi Danielle,
    I wish that cup of coffee was sitting in front of me right now, along with one of your little Ground Cherry Pies, that would be very nice. Enjoy your weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  2. Thanks for stopping by and for hosting Full Plate Thursday, Miz Helen!

  3. I love me a cuppa! Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party last week! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :) I hope that you'll join us this week to share more yummies! Also, be sure to stop back by to see who the winner of the Planet Rice will be! The winner will be announced at GFF #9 Cindy from

  4. Thanks again for hosting GF Fridays Cindy, and thank you for all your time spent pinning!!

  5. Congratulations!
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you are having a great weekend and enjoy your new Red Plate.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen


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