When you think about coffee, what comes to your mind? Your favorite mug steaming with a strong black brew? Or maybe for you, coffee means a sweet Starbucks frappuccino. For me, I think of a hot, creamy latte, especially one in an extra wide mug with a pretty design in the milky foam. However, my realistically typical coffee comes in a card board to-go cup, consumed as I’m sitting down to work in the morning or after swinging through the drive thru. This is not what coffee was like in Turkey. Sure, I did get some Starbucks when I was there, and I did order a latte one morning in Istanbul. But trust me. This is not what you want your coffee experience to be limited to when you’re in that part of the world.
Turkish coffee is thick, luxurious, aromatic. It is prepared in a copper “cevze,” where the finely ground coffee is boiled and from which the finished product is poured directly into each individual little cup. The goal of the pouring process is to build up the foam as much as possible…and I was told the coffee I pictured below had very terrible foam quality. I wouldn’t have known the difference, I was just amazed at the beautiful cups and the coffee being distributed into them right there at the table immediately after being removed from the flame.
With your coffee steaming hot in front of you, you can add sugar if you’d like but milk or cream is not an option; this coffee is meant to be black. I opted to keep it sugar-free so I could taste the coffee better, and I was happy with my choice. The Turkish method of brewing is optimal for preserving the flavor of the bean, making it one of the strongest tasting coffees you could try! Be sure to drink the pretty rose water served alongside before you drink the coffee…it’s supposed to cleanse the palette so you can better taste the beans (I thought the rose water was for a little dessert ish drink…oops).
Take care that you don’t drink the grounds resting in the bottom of the cup! I have a habit of stirring my mug around as I’m drinking, which was a huge mistake with Turkish coffee as I was just mixing the grounds up with the drinkable part. Also…after you’re done with your drink, you can see your fortune in those grounds! Just put the saucer on top of the cup, flip the two of them over and you can look at your fortune once the bottom of the cup is cool.
Despite all of the flavor and texture differences between Turkish coffee and my typical latte, the biggest difference to me was the ritual behind it. Here in the US, coffee is such a to-go drink, chugged down in the morning to help you wake up and get ready for work. As mentioned above, I myself usually end up drinking coffee out of a disposable cardboard cup. In Turkey, you sit down for your coffee. It wis its own activity, not just a drink to gulp as you’re doing a million other things.
We usually had our coffee in the afternoon, after sightseeing all morning and when we were ready for a break. Since it’s made individually on the stove, there’s no quick serving from a pre-made vat, so there’s lots of time to chat while you’re waiting for your order. And since it’s served so hot you have to allow it some time to cool, sipping it very slowly, which only extends your socializing time even more. It’s served in absolutely stunning china, with a beautiful rose water and pretty little Turkish delight; the whole ritual is an experience meant to be savored. So when I say you HAVE to try Turkish coffee when you’re in Turkey, it’s not just the yummy drink I’m referring to. It’s the entire activity itself.