How to choose Turkish coffee

Coffee reached Europe through Turkey. Enterprising scout Yuri Kulchitsky received 300 sacks of coffee beans as a war trophy from the captured camp of the Turkish Pasha.

He decided to open a coffee shop in Vienna and serve black coffee in small cups, the kind that the Turks brew. However, Europeans, unaccustomed to the bitter taste of the drink, reacted coolly to the innovation. Kulczycki had to come up with a recipe we call “Viennese coffee” in order for his coffee shop to finally gain popularity.

Not much time has passed, and the fashion for coffee has become ubiquitous. Together with her, the recipe for “Turkish coffee” came to us. Traditionally, this drink is brewed in a long-handled copper cezve. For one serving of coffee, one glass of clean cold water and two tablespoons of coffee with a slide go. An obligatory part of serving is a glass of water, which is served with a drink.

However, the recipe has been changed, and now we brew coffee not only in copper Turks, but also in steel and ceramic dishes. Portions of the drink have increased, and rarely, along with coffee, we pour ourselves a glass of water. However, it is still very important to choose the right beans for brewing. For Turkish coffee, you cannot use coffee intended for espresso and coffee machines.

Choose the type of grains: Robusta vs. Arabica

The classic Turkish coffee is Arabica. It has a rich aroma and an expressive, but mild taste. Arabica is characterized by sourness, chocolate, and fruit notes in the aftertaste. The caffeine content of Arabica beans is relatively low, so a cup of Turkish coffee will not lead to increased heart rate and palpitations. Pure Arabica is suitable even for people who complain of high blood pressure.

There is only one downside to Arabica and that is the price. This variety is quite difficult to cultivate: coffee trees are whimsical, fragile, and capricious. They are very sensitive to the weather and can produce a small crop. Robusta is cheaper – it is easy to recognize its taste by the harsh bitterness in the drink. But Robusta has more caffeine, so it can be added in small amounts to Arabica to enhance the invigorating effect of the drink.

However, Robusta coffee beans do not have a complex bouquet of taste and aroma, so it is better to choose Arabica coffee for making Turkish coffee. A compromise solution may be a blend, where Arabica prevails over Robusta.

Choosing a type of coffee

The type of coffee should not be confused with the type of coffee. In total, there are three types of coffee: Arabica, Robusta, and Liberica, but most often manufacturers use the first two varieties. But there are about a hundred varieties of coffee.

The variety depends on the conditions in which the coffee trees were grown: region, altitude, humidity, soil composition, and so on. Therefore, coffee varieties are most often (but not always) named after the country or locality where they are grown.

The most popular varieties of Turkish coffee:

Moka. This is an aromatic coffee grown in Yemen. Grain trade went through the port of Mocha, hence the name.

Colombia. The variety is suitable for those who like pronounced sourness in the drink. Columbia is distinguished not only by a noble sour taste but also by a pronounced pleasant aroma.

Ethiopia Sidamo. Coffee with notes of berries and citrus fruits has a well-balanced taste. In Ethiopia, the high-altitude Harar variety with a recognizable wine flavor is grown, as well as Irgacheffe, a light variety with a floral aroma and spicy notes. The taste of Irgacheffe is reminiscent of Sidamo but differs in an unusual lemon sourness.

Santos. Brazilian variety is named after the port of Santos. If you’re not into sour notes and are looking for a soft, versatile coffee for every day, then Santos is a great choice. This is a medium-strength coffee, and it is often sold in a blend with Columbia.

In total, modern manufacturers cultivate about a hundred different varieties of coffee. They differ in bean size, taste, aroma, caffeine content, and, of course, price. If you want to try brewing an expensive variety, you can opt for Blue Mountain. This bright and balanced variety was originally cultivated on a single mountain in Jamaica, hence the name. However, today it is also grown in Kenya, Guinea, Haiti, and Hawaii.

Gourmets highly appreciate the Hawaiian Kona variety, but it is almost impossible to find it in its pure form. As a rule, Kona is part of blends.

Down the stairs

It is not only the type and variety of speciality coffee that matters but also the grind. It can be large, medium or small. For Turkish coffee, only fine grinding is used, as it allows the beans to reveal their taste and smell when brewed in a cezve. Finely ground coffee has a consistency similar to flour, not sand.

Using coarse-ground coffee, you will not achieve not only a bright taste but also a fine foam. If you buy unground beans, it is better to use an automatic coffee grinder rather than a manual grinder, since it is difficult to manually achieve the desired degree of grinding beans.

Roast degree

There are several degrees of heat treatment for coffee beans:

  • Minimal or English roast: the beans are kept over the fire for only a few minutes.
  • Light or American Roast: The beans are no longer processed before they start to “click”. This keeps the herbal notes in the aftertaste.
  • Average or urban. Gives coffee a slight roasted bitterness.
  • High or Vienna roast. Coffee beans darken. This is how coffee is processed for making espresso, but not for Turks.
  • Maximum, or Spanish roast. Burnt tones appear in the taste of the drink, and the grains themselves turn black.

For Turkish coffee, beans of light or medium roast are chosen. The high and maximum heat treatment is only suitable for coffee machines or espresso preparations. Roasting makes the coffee stronger and more invigorating, but it can also “remove” flavors. Therefore, rare, gourmet varieties of grains are usually not subjected to a high degree of heat treatment.

How to check the quality of Turkish coffee

If you buy unground coffee, check the integrity of the beans. They must be intact, without chips, scratches, and extra cracks. All these defects may indicate either that the manufacturer used raw materials of poor quality, or that the conditions for storing coffee were violated.

Also look for the luster of the beans and the presence of an oily shell, which indicates the presence of essential oils. If the beans do not have an oily sheen, they have been stored too long or not roasted properly.

It is not necessary to buy pure varieties for Turks, you can choose blends: compositions from several varieties of coffee. But in this case, it is better to clarify which grains are included in the composition.

For those who prefer to buy ground coffee, the quality of grinding is of paramount importance when choosing: uniform, without grains and inclusions. Coffee for Turks should be similar in consistency to flour. It should also be brown, not black: a powder that is too dark indicates that the coffee is over-roasted and you will not feel the rich bouquet of the drink.

Pay attention to packaging: it can only be sealed, without damage. When exposed to air, coffee beans lose their aroma very quickly, so they can only be stored in airtight containers.

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