13 March 2010

How To Make Arabic (or Turkish) Coffee


When I lived in Damascus I would sit around on Saturday afternoons with friends, drinking coffee and telling our fortunes with the grounds. I was drinking coffee in a meeting with some Syrian cabinet ministers one afternoon, and out of habit I flipped my cup upside down over the saucer when I was finished. Everyone laughed at how the foreigner was acting like a superstitious housewife. I was horribly embarrassed, but I think they all took it as a sort of compliment, and it certainly broke the ice! Here's how to make strong intense, sludgy-at-the-bottom Arab style coffee.

1. The coffee: the coffee must be ground at the finest possible setting. While you could technically use any coffee, I find those ground specifically for Arabic-style coffee are the best. A popular Arabic brand is Najjar. Some chose to grind cardamom in with their coffee, or add a pinch of cardamom when cooking.

2. The vessel: technically the beak-lipped pot is calleda rakweh or ibrik, but any tall narrow long-handled vessel will do.

3. The sugar: sugar should be added before cooking, otherwise if you stir in sugar after serving you'll stir up the grounds which should remain at the bottom. Sugar levels are as follows: saddah- no sugar, wasat- medium sugar, helou- sweet enough to give you cavities.

4. The proportions: You will use a teaspoonful of coffee for every espresso-sized cup you plan to serve.

5. The fortune: Turn your cup over when you're done and let the designs in the grounds tell your fortune.

What you do:

1. Measure the water into the pot by using a demitasse cup (ie, if you want four cups of coffee measure out 4 demitasse cups). Add the sugar. Bring to a boil.
2. Pull the pot off the heat and stir in as many spoonfuls of coffee as cups you will be serving. Stir rapidly in a circular motion and return the pot to the heat.
3. Watch the pot like a hawk. When the coffee begins to boil over, pull it off the heat, let it settle, and return it to the heat.
4. Let the coffee foam up again and pull it off the heat. (you can boil it more than twice, but then you'll lose the foam which is undesirable). Let the coffee settle briefly, then pour into your serving cups.

26 comments:

maninas said...

This is exactly how we make coffee at home in Croatia. We call it the Turkish coffee. I love it! It reminds me of home, and... of studying for exams! That the Croatian student's poison of choice when it comes to sleepless nights of studying.

In Bosnia, they say they 'bake/roast' the coffee. They put the coffee pot, then add hot water to it, and only then put it on the stove. When the coffee boils, they remove it from the pot, and add a bit of water. This helps the ground settle.

You'll notice no sugar is added at this stage. This is because the coffee is served with cubes of sugar, and with rahat lokum, both of which are very sweet.

Kano said...

You forgot one more sugar level "aal reha" roughly translate to (just a smell) as in just the smell of sugar. So "aal reha" is one step between saddah and wasat.

Anonymous said...

nice blog!
This kind of coffee is arab coffee,not turkish.Turks,warrior nomads of central Asia have nothing to do with coffee.
Coffee(the plant)comes from Ethiopia and coffee(the drink)was first made at neighbouring Yemen.From Yemen and the Arabs,coffee spread all over the territories that were under ottoman rule.
Western Europeans,disregarding the fact that the Ottoman empire was a multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-religious empire,used to name everything they saw in that places,as "turkish", [like lokum (Arabic لقمة luqma(t) 'morsel' or 'mouthful') the so-called turkish delight], but this is wrong, since it doesn't respond to reality.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a recipe for Arabic clear coffee? I have had it a few times, but never have found someone willing to share the recipe. It is not cold brew, but a hot beverage with strong flavored coffee. It comes out almost colorless.

Thanks!

kitchenoperas said...

I've just found your blog, and stayed up way too late last night going through your archives.

Thanks for the beautiful Middle Eastern recipes, and your great descriptions. I have so many new ideas to try and have bookmarked them to try out soon!

tasteofbeirut said...

Love to drink it with cardamom (haal) but only when I am in lebanon and someone else makes it!

Life&Times said...

I think the "clear" coffee is the version that's more like american drip coffee, but with whole cardamom soaking in it for flavor.

For the anonymous poster who talked about the Turks having nothing to do with coffee: The difference between "Turkish" and "Arabic" coffee is a question of the style of grounds and how it's brewed. The "Turkish" coffee is the kind made on the blog and refers to the style of roasting and preparing it. "Arabic" coffee is prepared more like "American" style drip coffee. It's the kind served in small cups to the guests, going around from guest to guest in meetings, at parties, etc.

The biggest distinction in the "clear" coffee is really the free floating cardamom. So yummy.

Patty said...

Coffee is the reason I'm going to Turkey this summer :) that's for the preview, great post!

Donna said...

Wow, and wow again. I've just returned from Jordan (for the first time) and was searching for some recipies and came across your amazing blog. I can't wait to try to make everything!

Sanne Bean Banana said...

That sounds like a terrific way to spend Saturday afternoons. Great post!

Atlanta personal injury attorney said...

Looks like a flavorful cup of coffee. Thanks for sharing this.

Vicki in GA said...

I love the style of the cup!
I so love middle eastern coffees.
I'm so happy you are posting regularly, again.

Mom said...

I make this coffee twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon...i prefer mine light roast with lots of roasted and ground cardamom...i have never posted the recipe and the directions on my blog but for sure i will have to make a video of making Arabic/Turkish coffee! thanks for the inspiration :)

the cookie jar said...

Haha Turkish coffee always reminds me of my boyfriend's family; they're lebanese and when they drink the turkish coffee at the end, when there's those thick dregs at the bottom they tip the cups upside down on the table and after a couple of minutes tell each others fortunes from the mess it makes.

Not sure if that's traditional, but it's entertaining.

Anna said...

We bought some turkish coffee and had a go at making it but it wasn't brilliant. I am definitely having another go - but following your instructions!! Thanks.

Kalee said...

I love this style of coffee! My first one was in Turkey and I just kept thinking to myself "don't make a face, don't make a face." But in the end I loved it!

Dinners and Dreams said...

I love Irish coffee and desert candy. I could eat dates every day.
I'll be back for more inspiring recipes.

Nisrine

Kosmos said...

wow....


http://www.indiandairy.co.in

evrenbal said...

Thanks for the nice recipe..

for the readers who would need some more correct history of "Turkish coffee", here is a link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_coffee

YaZ said...

after 7 years of being married to non coffee drinking Palestinian but being embarrassed every time I'm asked for coffee by my in laws and guests and several several attempts of learning it, this is the FIRST time I get it..

I'll give it a try and hopefully get it right

An Arab said...

*Note:

Always serve the cup with the most "wij" (face) which is the foam to the guest, or oldest person in the room as it's an honor to be offered the cup with wij, unless they refuse it and say they don't like wij.

Anonymous said...

About the clear Arabic Coffee, I think Anonymous was asking about "ahwe beida" (white coffee aka cafe blanc) which is boiled water mixed with rose water i believe and is often served at night, or after a heavy meal to aid digestion.


I am LOVING this blog. Just discovered it!

glampunksuicide said...

Hi - I've been searching for a clear guide on how to make Arabic coffee and after watching many dodgy you tube videos which have done nothing but confuse me further (so many different ways to make it and which one is correct?) I've finally found your blog post above. Its excellent. I'm now also wasting lots of time reading through all your recipes while I should be working. I've followed your blog (I use blogger) so am looking forward to more posts soon.
Leanne x http://buzzbeefbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/

Renee Dalziel said...

Thank you for your "one cup" recipe! I just came back from a trip to Jordan. At a small store by the immigration control gate (I walked over from Israel), the sweet young man working the cash register gifted me a small bag of the ground coffee he had for his family. The people in Jordan were probably the kindest and most giving folks ive ever met!
I wanted to make sure I brewed my gift coffee correctly, but only one cup at a time.
Thanks again!

David Lee said...

Thank you share this recipe with us. its a finest recipe for one cup Arabica Coffee. I'll try to make it at home.

0s0-Pa said...

I usually prefer to brew my own coffee since it's a lot cheaper and I can make it exactly the way I like. Coffeeforless is usually where I buy mine from since they have a good selection and prices.