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:
- Measure cold water into the Ibrik using a
- For each demitasse of water, use 4g (1 heaped
teaspoon) of coffee and 3 – 4g of sugar.
- Stir coffee and sugar into the water in the
demitasse (a quick stir is sufficient) and place on a low heat.
- Watch carefully. As the mixture starts to
boil it will foam up. Remove from the heat immediately.
- Return to the heat until it starts to foam,
then remove. Repeat a third time.
- Pour immediately into the waiting demitasses,
ensuring some of the foam is added to each cup.
- 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.