Coffee came to Turkey in the 16th century, discovered in Yemen by an Ottoman official and introduced to the sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Its popularity quickly spread but in the following century, it was deemed a drug and outlawed, upon pain of death, likely because the coffee house culture encouraged political discourse and potential dissent. Despite the harshest of penalties, the prohibition could not hold against the demand.
The name Turkish coffee refers to a method of preparation, the oldest there is, rather than a particular set of ingredients. The same or very similar drink is popular across the Middle East and eastern Europe, sometimes called Turkish coffee but often named for the country in which it is served.
So, here goes. It’s very simple. You need a special pot called an ibrik or cezve, usually copper with a wooden handle (I bought mine for well under $10), and a teaspoon.
You can use any coffee but fresh ground beans are the best. The grind must be extremely fine, like powder. Few standard electric coffee grinders will do the job. A hand-crank pepper mill works great.
Measure cold water into the cezve with a demitasse cup and add 1-2 heaping teaspoons of coffee per cup of water. If you like it sweet, add sugar now. Stir until the coffee is mixed well into the water and the sugar is dissolved. Heat on medium until the coffee bubbles up to the rim of the pot, then remove from heat. (You have to watch this coffee while it brews, once it starts bubbling, things move fast. Look away for a second and you might have a very messy stove.)
Once the coffee returns to a nonfoamy state, put it back on the heat and repeat. Let it foam up on the heat to near overflowing three times. Then serve. Don’t stir.
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