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Coffee Brewing

Middle Eastern Coffee

"Middle Eastern" Coffee is the oldest of the established brewing processes, although these days the rest of the world tends to call it Turkish Coffee, unless they live in adjacent areas, when it becomes Greek, Egyptian, Yugoslav etc. coffee. All the variations share strong common features, though. The first is the grind, which is most correctly described as "pulverised", with the beans reduced to the finest possible powder. The second is the addition of large quantities of sugar prior to brewing.

The third and most distinctive is the brewer, a long handled pot with the neck narrower than the base, most commonly called an "Ibrik". Traditionally these are made of beaten copper and lined with tin, in specific cup sizes. A "cup" for Turkish coffee may often have a volume of only 30ml, much smaller than even an espresso demitasse.

Various spices (or honey in place of sugar) can be added to the coffee before brewing, depending on regional taste. The most common spice used is Cardamom, but Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Coriander Root, Ginger and Aniseed, alone or in various combinations, are used as well. The coffee itself can be any medium roasted bean, although traditionally Ethiopian or Yemeni coffees would have been used, but dark, oily roasts are avoided. Eastern Europe loves "Rioy" Brazils, beans which I would describe as having a harsh, bitter medicinal flavour; to my palate they are absolutely foul. They command a premium price in their regional market, though, proving that the taste for coffee varies enormously.

To brew Turkish coffee you need an Ibrik, powdered coffee, sugar, water and a heat source. The Ibrik should be no more than half full when all the ingredients are added, or it will spill over during brewing. Sometimes the Ibrik will have a number on the underside. This tells you how many 60ml (demitasse) cups you can brew. The steps in the process are:

  1. Measure cold water into the Ibrik using a demitasse.
  2. For each demitasse of water, use 4g (1 heaped teaspoon) of coffee and 3 4g of sugar.
  3. Stir coffee and sugar into the water in the demitasse (a quick stir is sufficient) and place on a low heat.
  4. Watch carefully. As the mixture starts to boil it will foam up. Remove from the heat immediately.
  5. Return to the heat until it starts to foam, then remove. Repeat a third time.
  6. Pour immediately into the waiting demitasses, ensuring some of the foam is added to each cup.
  7. Allow 3 to 4 minutes to settle and cool before drinking. Do not drain the cup, just sip until the sediment gets too thick for your taste.

Since this style of coffee is often served with mind-numbingly sweet pastries or confectionary, all the sugar tends to mute any bitterness caused by boiling the coffee.

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