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Topic: Turkish Coffee Questions (4 msgs / 159 lines)
1) From: Benjamin L. Alpers
 
Inspired by some posts on the list, I just took my old ibrik out of 
storage and began once again experimenting with Turkish coffee (a 
good thing to do when I have the odd tablespoon or two of a roast 
left over).  This has led me to a whole mess o' questions about 
Turkish/Arab/Greek coffee.  Perhaps some of you can lead me on the 
path to enlightenment.
1) What kind of roasts are traditionally used for Turkish coffee?  I 
know this beverage is the most common kind of coffee in many parts of 
the Mediterranean, from Greece, through the former Yugoslavia, into 
Turkey and the Arab world.  Do they roast beans to the same degree in 
all these places or are there regional roast variations as there are 
in Europe and the US?
2) In general, Turkish coffee tastes to me like Turkish coffee, 
regardless of what beans I use (that is to say, the brewing method 
imparts a particular flavor that overwhelms most varietal 
differences).  Still I have noticed some differences when I use 
different beans. So far, Turkish coffee made with Mocca Ismaili has 
been the most distinctive (and good) version (then again, IMO just 
about any beverage made with Yemeni coffee is great).  Any of you 
have any opinions about what kinds of coffee (or blends) work 
particularly well when brewed this way?
3) A troubleshooting question:  I've gotten the hang of making pretty 
good Turkish coffee, but I seem unable to make REALLY good Turkish 
coffee.  I grind my coffee for around 2 mins. in a whirligig grinder 
(soon this will be the only thing I use my old grinder for...I just 
ordered a Solis 177...yeah!).  I get good powder.  I put it in 
slightly heated water in the ibrik.  Wait until it rises to the top. 
Take it off the heat and let it fall.  Put it back on the heat (much 
lower now) and wait for it to rise again.  Take it off again. Then 
try it a third time.  Here's the problem:  usually while I'm waiting 
for the third rising (but sometimes for the second) the "raft" of 
coffeegrounds breaks up, the coffee starts to boil, and the rising 
stops.  At this point I just take it off the heat, let it rest and 
drink it.  It's always ok.  But is there some way to prevent that 
raft from breaking and to get it to rise as it should without having 
the coffee hit a full boil?
Here's a weird one for the coffee memory files:  drinking Turkish 
coffee reminds me of a really nice couple days I spent in Sarajevo 
back in 1987, before all the trouble began.  I spent most of my time 
just hangin' out in cafes in the old part of town, drinking endless 
quantities of Turkish coffee and people watching (it was a great 
place for that).
Any, 'nuff for now,
Ben
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2) From: Ed Needham
If you let it crest and boil, you've ruined it.  Dump it and try to not let
it go flat like that.  If you can't do it with three rises, then stop and
pour at two.  In most countries where Turkish type coffee is served, it is
an 'insult' to your guests to serve coffee without the head of 'crema like'
foam covering the entire cup.  If the coffee crests, it goes flat and the
taste is ruined as well as the appearance.
Ed Needham

3) From: Gary Zimmerman
 
<Snip>
I spent some time in Israel, gosh about 20 years ago now (!)  And found a 
place that sold whole beans.  Don't know if they roasted them themselves or 
not - it was just a hole in-the-wall merchant whose shop door doubled as 
window sales service - no one went "inside" the shop.  He would grind the 
coffee for me (pulverized nicely to powder for Turkish style coffee).
I believe the sacks strewn around were labeled as Brasilian coffee, and I 
figured it was just the cheapest stuff he could get.  I have no idea, 
though, whether this is the "traditional" variety used.  I'd expect an 
African would be easier to get, but who knows with economics and trade 
being what it is?
As for the roast, it seemed a full city - dark but not black-like-espresso.
<Snip>
The same thing happens to me frequently.  Since I'm just brewing for 
myself, I don't worry much about it, but I *would* like to know what's 
going on too.  Usually, the first rising is fine, with a nice head on 
it.  The second or third always starts to boil as you describe, and the cap 
is just lost.  Since one of these days I'd like to serve some Turkish to 
friends, I'd like to do it right and maintain the crema.
I don't know if it's a question of the grind, the amount of coffee used, 
the amount of sugar used, the heat level, or the time allowed between 
risings.  Should I wait awhile before putting the ibrik back on the fire or 
reheat immediately?  Is three times the traditional number of risings?
Thanks Ben, for submitting the question!  I'm curious too, but never really 
made enough Turkish to even think of submitting it to this expert group.
-- garyZ
Whirley-drip(paper)-black
        & vacuum (& sometimes Turkish!)
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4) From: cthomas
All who asked:
Almost all the "Turkish" coffee I've watch being prepared was prepared by
Greeks (and one Turk).  In all cases (and in my own since I do it the same
way as I've learned), the rate of heating and the rise was controlled by
moving the ibrik above the heat source: the heat was fairly high and as the
first rise occurred, the ibrik was slowly raised until the liquid gently
filled the wider section at the top.  It was remove from the heat and the
liquid subsides.  The "skin" forms and it is put back on the heat.  If
treated right in this manner, the cap will crack at a few seams and the
liquid will slowly ooze out like lava.  This is traditionally done three
times.  The coffee is immediately poured into the cups before the grounds
can settle.  I've never seen a "crema-like" foam on it;  the prep method
alone would seem to preclude that.  On the otherhand,  other than Greek and
Turkish friends,  I've only had off-shore "Greek/Turkish" coffee in three
other countries, none of them Mideastern, although the hosts were.
Coffee composition:  while I agree the the Yemenis would probably be the
logical Turkish traditional coffee, I understand that most of the modern
sorts are Brazilian.  Some small amount of Chikory is added during the
grind, I guess (since I understand you don't grind Chikory, I'm not sure
how this part works.  Maybe Tom can help us out there since I got some
Chikory from him for just this purpose before I noted his comment in the
description about not grinding it.  It came about regular coffee ground
size).  The Greek varieties are then mixed with sugar and water in the
ibrik and brewed.  The Turkish varieties add cardamon and sometimes
cinnimon to the ibrik as well.
All of the coffees I remember have been a medium to medium dark brown, what
I guess would be called city.  And of course is ground very very fine.  I
have a bag of "Greek" coffee (from Athens, no less) that I'm referring to
as well.
Does this help?
CThomas
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