How to make Turkish coffee?

Turkish coffee is unlike any other in the world, and it is a favorite among caffeine lovers. But the thick texture and robust flavor of this dark drink make it an acquired taste, and its preparation is vastly different from most other brewing methods.

Making Turkish coffee can be tricky, as this age-old tradition requires specialized tools and specific know-how. Fortunately, understanding the science behind making this drink will help you enjoy it at home — no trip to Istanbul required.

How to prepare Turkish coffee at home?

We’ll tell you all about the history and science behind Turkish coffee, but you may want to brew a cup first to accompany your talk. This is the traditional way to make this aromatic drink.


Time: 5 to 7 minutes
Ingredient cost: $20
Difficulty: Moderate
Yield: 1 portion


  • 2 teaspoons of high-quality coffee, finely ground especially for Turkish coffee
  • About 2.5 to 3 ounces of cold water
  • (Optional) sugar to taste


  • A cezve (Turkish coffee pot), or a small saucepan
  • Teaspoon
  • A glass top (or gas stove)
  • Turkish coffee cups (or espresso cups) to serve
  • (Optional) a food scale


1. Pour the coffee and water into your cezve. A cezve or ibrik is a traditional Turkish coffee pot. It is usually made of copper or brass and has a long wooden or metal handle that makes it easier to put directly over the fire.

Most cezves come in 1 cup (about 2.5 ounces) and 2 cup (about 3 ounces) sizes, but you can find them in sizes up to 6 and 8 cups, so adjust the amount of water and coffee accordingly. The magic ratio for Turkish coffee is 9 parts water to 1 part coffee, says Peter Giuliano, executive director of the Coffee Science Foundation.

If you want to be precise, you can use a kitchen scale, but you can also get by with less accurate measurements, such as teaspoons.

  • Pro tip: If you can’t find a specialty coffee, you can use an espresso roast with ‘body’. Higher quality coffee beans produce a finer foam, a trademark of Turkish coffee. Make sure the grind is as fine as possible.
  • Remark: If you don’t have cezve, you can use a small saucepan with a spout. Keep in mind that the shape of the pot is important for retaining heat and producing foam (more on that later), so it won’t deliver the same experience.

2. Stir with a spoon. Continue until the coffee is completely mixed.

3. (Optional) Add sugar or sweetener and stir. Usually a teaspoon or two, depending on your taste. Adding it at this stage rather than at the end of the process will help the sugar dissolve properly.

4. Place the pan over medium heat until dark foam begins to form. This happens just before the water starts to boil – around 4 to 5 minutes if you make one cup. If this is the case, remove the pan from the stove.

The foam in Turkish coffee, like crema in espressos, keeps your drink warm longer and retains aroma molecules, enhancing your coffee drinking experience. Alisha McDarris

5. Scoop out all the foam. Save it for later by gently scooping it into the bottom of the empty cup you’ll be serving the coffee in. A boiling temperature destroys the foam completely, so this ensures you get all the benefits.

The froth in Turkish coffee is similar to crema on a well-brewed espresso, and not only does it signal a quality cup, but it also adds to the coffee-drinking experience. Those little bubbles have insulating properties that keep your drink warm longer and trap volatile aroma molecules, resulting in an improved taste.

Foam forms with the release of carbon dioxide and other gases introduced into the ground coffee during the roasting process. Researchers don’t fully understand how frothing works, but one theory points to the tension change on the surface of the coffee due to the high temperature, which could allow the froth to form and collect.

6. Return the pan to the stove and let it come to a boil. Once this is the case, remove the pan from the stove.

7. Slowly pour the coffee down the side of the cup to serve. Dumping it in the center will dissolve the froth and mix more ground coffee into the cup, resulting in a grainy drink. Stop pouring when most of what’s left at the bottom of the pot is coffee grounds.

Keep in mind that when drinking Turkish coffee there will always be some coffee grounds in your cup – it’s part of the experience. But stopping the pour at this point prevents the last few sips from being exceptionally grainy.

8. Let your coffee stand for a minute before drinking. This gives the coffee time to sink to the bottom of your cup. Resist the urge to stir your coffee, add milk or more sugar, as you will be mixing all the coffee grounds into the drink, making for a less pleasant texture.

9. Drink your coffee. If you want to stick to tradition, serve your coffee with a cup of cold water of the same size. But as a guest, you should never drink the water after your coffee as this is traditionally seen as an insult as it implies that you didn’t like it. Instead, drink the water before the coffee as a palette cleanser, explains Emel Kilic, a coffee lover and travel consultant from Turkey.

Ideally, a piece of Turkish delight will also be served with your cup. The sweetness of the candy will complement the strength of the coffee beautifully.

Some tradition and science

hands take coffee grounds
Coffee for Turkish coffee must be finely ground. You want a floury consistency. Alisha McDarris

Turkish coffee, and its specific preparation, is one of the oldest coffee traditions in the world, dating back to the Ottoman Empire (particularly the Yemeni region, in the south) at the beginning of the 16th century. People in the Middle East and the Southern Mediterranean drank it long before Americans drank large amounts of brewed beans.

But this ancient coffee is more than a drink with roots in history – it’s also a modern institution and a symbol of hospitality and celebration in Turkey. For example, brides-to-be pour salted coffee to their future husband and in-laws during betrothal ceremonies, which they drink to imply the magnitude of their love. And it’s still common, if only for fun, to look into the bottom of your empty cup and try to guess your fortune from the remaining grounds.

The brewing method that results in Turkish coffee is very different from other techniques that Americans are more familiar with. American coffee is a percolation, explains Giuliano, where hot water passes through coffee grounds. This is how coffee makers, pour-overs and espresso machines work.

On the other hand, Turkish coffee is the result of a process called decoction, a more powerful and effective way of extracting flavor where the coffee grounds are boiled together with the water. By applying direct heat, you get more flavor out of the beans, resulting in the strong and characteristic taste of Turkish coffee. It also dissolves more superfine coffee bean particles than other methods, giving a more intense flavor.

But it’s not just the heating and soaking, the fine grinding of the beans also plays a major role. Turkish coffee requires a grind about as fine as flour, which increases the surface area of ​​the coffee exponentially, allowing hot water to extract even more flavor from every tiny grain.

In addition, this method leaves small pieces of insoluble soil in the drink, giving Turkish coffee its unique texture and mouthfeel. Those floating particles are also linked to the aftertaste. They literally cling to your mouth and tongue after you swallow, explains Giuliano, leading to the constant stimulation of taste and smell receptors in the mouth and nasal cavity: “The amount of time you spend drinking is almost trivial.” compared to the time you can drink.enjoy [Turkish coffee] subsequently.”

So when you think about it, the extra minutes you spend making your Turkish coffee are absolutely worth the extra minutes you get to enjoy your morning cup.