Turkish coffee, an integral part of the Turkish culture for centuries, has its own spot on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List. On a day dedicated to celebrating it, let’s dive into the various ways to consume this drink tied to so many traditions
Turkish coffee is more than just a caffeinated drink to wake you up in the mornings. It is steeped in tradition and has evolved into an integral part of the Turkish culture over the centuries. It is, for example, unthinkable to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage without consuming the titular drink. The bride prepares and serves sweet coffee if she approves of the match and a salty variation if she refuses. The tradition has changed over the years and the sit-down visit to ask for the bride’s hand has become more of a formality. Nowadays, it has become almost mandatory for the bride to serve the coffee salty to test the resolve of the groom who must not make a face while drinking it.
Fortune telling is another important Turkish pastime associated with the coffee, and as the saying goes “there’s an app for that.” You can literally upload a picture of your coffee grounds to the app and the fortune teller of your choosing will predict your future right on your smartphone.
These are just a few of the many aspects of Turkish coffee culture and UNESCO agreed! In 2013 the titular drink and its associations got inscribed to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
How to make the coffee
After this longer than intended introduction, let’s take a closer look at the coffee itself. The coffee here is ground thinner than it would be for filter coffee. Usually, you use a small pot with a long handle called a “cezve” in Turkish to prepare it but with modern times comes convenience, and now there are even tiny kettle-like machines that make the task even quicker.
The coffee can be prepared as sweet as you like or you can also add other flavors such as gum mastic. Speaking of convenience: There are even instant Turkish coffees out there, where you only need to add hot water to have yourself a cup. These come in many flavors as well but like with many instant things: nothing beats the original.
So here is the basic recipe for you to try out:
- 1 cup of water, around 200 milliliters
- 1-2 teaspoons ground coffee
- Up to 3 teaspoons of sugar, optional
Mix the coffee and water – and sugar if you want it sweet – in the pot and bring it all to a boil on low heat. Once it boils, a layer of foam will form and if poured carefully it will remain on top – an indication of a perfect cup of coffee.
To achieve an even foamier cup of coffee some like to remove the initial layer of foam from the first boil and place it in the cup with the help of a spoon, then bring the coffee to a boil a second time, making even more foam which is carefully poured in.
Turkish coffee cookies
When thinking of coffee one naturally thinks of dessert to go with it. Cookies are always a favorite of mine as they are easy to carry along and are convenient to share (I can’t make small batches and sharing is caring!).
- 1 teaspoon Turkish coffee grounds
- 60 grams hazelnut or peanut butter
- 50 grams sugar
- Vanilla extract
- 5 grams baking powder
- 160 grams flour
- 2 tablespoons molasses
For the glaze
- 50 grams bitter chocolate
- 2-3 tablespoons Turkish coffee grounds
Put all the ingredients for the dough into a bowl and mix it thoroughly until you get an evenly distributed dough. Roll it out thinly and cut it out to your desire. Place them evenly on a baking sheet and bake these at 160 degrees Celsius (320 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15-20 minutes depending on how thick and wide they are. Let them cool off. Melt the chocolate and cover the top side of the cookie. While the chocolate is still “wet” dust the cookie with the coffee grounds. Let it set and enjoy!
Sweet Turkish coffee hummus
I could have gone with a chocolate-coffee cake but that felt like something that has been done to death. So why not combine the classic Turkish drink with a classic Turkish meze?
There are many ways you can enjoy hummus and this hearty variation will definitely be an interesting addition to any table. Paired with some fresh bread, croutons or lavaş, a soft flatbread, this is most definitely a conversation starter.
- 1 tablespoon Turkish coffee grounds
- 200 grams cooked chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon cacao
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons water
If not done already, remove and discard the skin of the chickpeas then put the skinless chickpeas in a blender. Add all the other ingredients, except the olive oil, and pulse until you achieve a smooth texture. Slowly incorporate the olive oil until the texture is just right. Depending on your personal taste, you can tweak the recipe with more honey or add chocolate chips on top to make it more interesting visually.