Turkish coffee
A cup of Turkish coffee, served from a copper cezve
Country of origin Ottoman Empire
ColorDark brown

Turkish coffee is a style of coffee prepared in a cezve using very finely ground coffee beans without filtering.[1][2]


Turkish coffee is very finely ground coffee brewed by boiling. Any coffee bean may be used; arabica varieties are considered best, but robusta or a blend is also used.[3] The coffee grounds are left in the coffee when served.[4][5] The coffee may be ground at home in a manual grinder made for the very fine grind, ground to order by coffee merchants in most parts of the world, or bought ready-ground from many shops.

Late Ottoman era Kahve fincanı

Coffee and water, usually with added sugar, is brought to the boil in a special pot called cezve in Turkey, and often called ibrik elsewhere. As soon as the mixture begins to froth, and before it boils over, it is taken off the heat; it may be briefly reheated twice more to increase the desired froth. Sometimes about one-third of the coffee is distributed to individual cups; the remaining amount is returned to the fire and distributed to the cups as soon as it comes to the boil.[6][5] The coffee is traditionally served in a small porcelain cup called a kahve fincanı 'coffee cup'.[6]

The amount of sugar is specified when ordering the coffee. It may be unsweetened (Turkish: sade kahve), with little or moderate sugar (Turkish: az şekerli kahve, orta şekerli kahve or orta kahve), or sweet (Turkish: çok şekerli kahve). Coffee is often served with something small and sweet to eat, such as Turkish delight.[7][8] It is sometimes flavoured with cardamom,[4] mastic, salep,[9] or ambergris.[10] A lot of the powdered coffee grounds are transferred from the cezve to the cup; in the cup, some settle on the bottom but much remains in suspension and is consumed with the coffee.


Further information: Ottoman coffeehouse

Turkish coffee probably was brought in the Ottoman Empire by traveling merchants by the 16th century.[citation needed] The governor in charge of Yemen, Özdemir Pasha, may have officially introduced it to Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who popularized it. Under the strictest interpretations of the Quran, the strong coffee was considered a drug and its consumption was forbidden. Murad IV outlawed coffee, but due to the immense popularity of the beverage, the prohibition was eventually lifted.[11][12][13]

Turkish coffee culture had reached Britain and France by the mid to late 17th century. The first coffee house in Britain was opened by an Ottoman Jew in the mid 17th century. In the 1680s, the Turkish ambassador to France reportedly threw lavish parties for Paris's elite where enslaved people from Africa served coffee to guests in porcelain finjans on gold or silver saucers.[5]



Turkish coffee by oldypak lp photo
Turkish coffee

Main article: Tasseography

The grounds left after drinking Turkish coffee are sometimes used to tell fortunes, a practice known as tasseography.[14] The cup is turned over into the saucer to cool, and the patterns of the coffee grounds are interpreted.

Turkish weddings

As well as being an everyday beverage, Turkish coffee is also a part of the traditional Turkish wedding custom. As a prologue to marriage, the bridegroom's parents (in the lack of his father, his mother and an elderly member of his family) must visit the young girl's family to ask the hand of the bride-to-be and the blessings of her parents upon the upcoming marriage. During this meeting, the bride-to-be must prepare and serve Turkish coffee to the guests. For the groom's coffee, the bride-to-be sometimes uses salt instead of sugar to gauge his character. If the bridegroom drinks his coffee without any sign of displeasure, the bride-to-be assumes that the groom is good-tempered and patient. As the groom already comes as the demanding party to the girl's house, in fact it is the boy who is passing an exam and etiquette requires him to receive with all smiles this particular present from the girl.[15]

Names and variants

Typical Czech or Slovak Turkish coffee made of ground coffee beans poured with boiling water

There is controversy about its name e.g. in some ex-Ottoman dependencies, mostly due to nationalistic feelings or political rivalry with Turkey.[11]


This type of strong coffee is a standard of Armenian households. Armenians introduced the coffee to Corfu when they settled the island, where it is known as "eastern coffee" due to its Eastern origin. Corfu, which had never been part of the Ottoman holdings, did not have an established Ottoman coffee culture before it was introduced by the Armenians.[16] According to The Reuben Percy Anecdotes compiled by journalist Thomas Byerley, an Armenian opened a coffee shop in Europe in 1674, at a time when coffee was first becoming fashionable in the West.[17]

The term Turkish coffee is still used in many languages but in Armenian it is either called հայկական սուրճ, haykakan surč, 'Armenian coffee', or սեւ սուրճ, sev surč, 'black coffee', referring to the traditional preparation done without milk or creamer. If unsweetened it is called bitter (դառը or daruh) in Armenia, but more commonly it is brewed with a little sugar (normal).[18] Armenians will sometimes serve a plate of baklava alongside the coffee.[19]

Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Lithuania

A beverage called turecká káva or turek is very popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, although other forms of coffee preparation such as espresso have become more popular in the last few decades, decreasing the popularity of turek. Turek is usually no longer served in cafés, but it is prepared in pubs and kiosks, and in homes. The Czech and Slovak form of Turkish coffee is different from Turkish coffee in Turkey, the Arab world or Balkan countries, since a cezve is not used; instead the desired amount of ground coffee is put in a cup and boiling or almost boiling water is poured over it. In recent years, Turkish coffee is also made in a cezve (džezva in Czech), but Turkish coffee usually means the method described above.[20][21] Coffee is prepared in the same way in Poland[22] and Lithuania.[23]


In Greece, Turkish coffee was formerly referred to simply as 'Turkish' (τούρκικος). But political tensions with Turkey in the 1950s led to the political euphemism Greek coffee (ελληνικός καφές),"[24][25] which became even more popular after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974:[24] "... Greek–Turkish relations at all levels became strained, 'Turkish coffee' became 'Greek coffee' by substitution of one Greek word for another while leaving the Arabic loan-word, for which there is no Greek equivalent, unchanged."[26][27] There were even advertising campaigns promoting the name Greek coffee in the 1990s.[27] The name for a coffee pot remains either a briki (μπρίκι) in mainland Greek or a tzisves (τζισβές) in Cypriot Greek.

Former Yugoslavia

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Further information: Coffee culture in former Yugoslavia

Cup of coffee made in džezva, from Serbia

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkish coffee is also called Bosnian coffee (Bosnian: bosanska kahva), which is made slightly differently from its Turkish counterpart. A deviation from the Turkish preparation is that when the water reaches its boiling point, a small amount is saved aside for later, usually in a coffee cup. Then, the coffee is added to the pot (džezva), and the remaining water in the cup is added to the pot. Everything is put back on the heat source to reach its boiling point again, which only takes a couple of seconds since the coffee is already very hot.[28] Coffee drinking in Bosnia is a traditional daily custom and plays an important role during social gatherings.

In Serbia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Croatia it is called 'Turkish coffee' (turška kava / turska kava / турска кафа / turska kafa), 'domestic coffee' (domača kava, домаћа кафа / domaća kafa / domaća kava) or simply 'coffee' (kava, кафа / kafa). It is nearly identical to the Turkish version. In Serbia, Turkish coffee is also called српска кафа (srpska kafa), which means 'Serbian coffee'. The most common name is домаћа кафа (domaća kafa), meaning 'domestic coffee'.[29]

See also


  1. ^ "Getting Your Buzz with Turkish coffee". ricksteves.com. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  2. ^ Brad Cohen. "The complicated culture of Bosnian coffee". BBC Travel. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  3. ^ Nisan Agca (22 November 2017). "Making Turkish Coffee with a Turkish Barista Champion". Resources.urnex.com. Retrieved 5 May 2018. Some supermarkets sell coffee that is pre-ground, marketed as Turkish coffee, and usually robusta.
  4. ^ a b Freeman, James; Freeman, Caitlin; Duggan, Tara (2012-10-09). The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, With Recipes. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 978-1-60774-118-3.
  5. ^ a b c Basan, Ghillie (2006). The Middle Eastern Kitchen. New York: Hippocrene Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7818-1190-3.
  6. ^ a b Akin, Engin (2015-10-06). Essential Turkish Cuisine. Abrams. ISBN 978-1-61312-871-8.
  7. ^ Hattam, Jennifer; Larson, Vanessa; Newman, Scott (2012). Turkey. Fodor's Travel Publications. ISBN 978-0-307-92843-6.
  8. ^ Basan, Ghillie (1997). Classic Turkish Cookery. I.B. Tauris. p. 218. ISBN 1860640117.
  9. ^ Sejal Sukhadwala (11 October 2016). "Where To Drink Coffees From Around The World In London". Londonist. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  10. ^ "The starting point of Turkish coffee: Istanbul's historic coffeehouses". The Istanbul Guide. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  11. ^ a b Kakissis, Joanna (April 27, 2013). "Don't Call It 'Turkish' Coffee, Unless, Of Course, It Is". NPR. Retrieved 5 Oct 2022.
  12. ^ Gannon, Martin J. (2004). Understanding Global Cultures: Metaphorical Journeys Through 28 Nations, Clusters of Nations, and Continents. SAGE. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-7619-2980-2.
  13. ^ Thakur, Daksh (2023-08-29). "How Does Turkish Coffee Work: A Fortune Teller Coffee". Bitterbrewing. Retrieved 2023-03-09.
  14. ^ Nissenbaum, Dion (20 July 2007). "Coffee grounds brewed trouble for Israeli fortuneteller". McClatchyDC. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  15. ^ Köse, Nerin (nd). Kula Düğün Gelenekleri. Ege University. (2008)
  16. ^ "A Forgotten Armenian History on a Small Greek Island". The Armenian Weekly. 28 August 2019.
  17. ^ Percy, Reuben; Percy, Sholto (1823). The Percy Anecdotes: Conviviality. T. Boys.
  18. ^ Armenia. Bradt Travel Guides. 2019. p. 104. ISBN 9781784770792.
  19. ^ Broglin, Sharon; Museum, Allen Park Historical (2007-05-09). Allen Park. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4396-1884-4.
  20. ^ LAZAROVÁ Daniela, Czech baristas compete in the art of coffee-making, Radio Prague, May 12, 2011.
  21. ^ Piccolo neexistuje, Turek.
  22. ^ "Kawa po turecku – jak ją parzyć?". ottomania.pl. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  23. ^ TV3.lt, Lietuviška kava griauna mitus: lenkia italus, vejasi pasaulio geriausius, retrieved February 16, 2018.
  24. ^ a b Leonidas Karakatsanis, Turkish-Greek Relations: Rapprochement, Civil Society and the Politics of Friendship, Routledge, 2014, ISBN 0415730457, p. 111 and footnote 26: "The eradication of symbolic relations with the 'Turk' was another sign of this reactivation: the success of an initiative to abolish the word 'Turkish' in one of the most widely consumed drinks in Greece, i.e. 'Turkish coffee', is indicative. In the aftermath of the Turkish intervention in Cyprus, the Greek coffee company Bravo introduced a widespread advertising campaign titled 'We Call It Greek' (Emeis ton leme Elliniko), which succeeded in shifting the relatively neutral 'name' of a product, used in the vernacular for more than a century, into a reactivated symbol of identity. 'Turkish coffee' became 'Greek coffee' and the use of one name or the other became a source of dispute separating 'traitors' from 'patriots'."
  25. ^ Mikes, George (1965). Eureka!: Rummaging in Greece. p. 29. Their chauvinism may sometimes take you a little aback. Now that they are quarrelling with the Turks over Cyprus, Turkish coffee has been renamed Greek coffee; ...
  26. ^ Browning, Robert (1983). Medieval and Modern Greek. Cambridge University Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-521-29978-0.
  27. ^ a b Joanna Kakissis, "Don't Call It 'Turkish' Coffee, Unless, Of Course, It Is", The Salt, National Public Radio 27 April 2013: '"It wasn't always this way," says Albert Arouh, a Greek food scholar who writes under a pen name, Epicurus. "When I was a kid in the 1960s, everyone in Greece called it Turkish coffee." Arouh says he began noticing a name change after 1974, when the Greek military junta pushed for a coup in Cyprus that provoked Turkey to invade the island.' "The invasion sparked a lot of nationalism and anti-Turkish feelings," he says. "Some people tried to erase the Turks entirely from the coffee's history, and re-baptized it Greek coffee. Some even took to calling it Byzantine coffee, even though it was introduced to this part of the world in the sixteenth century, long after the Byzantine Empire's demise." By the 1980s, Arouh noticed it was no longer politically correct to order a "Turkish coffee" in Greek cafes. By the early 1990s, Greek coffee companies like Bravo (now owned by DE Master Blenders 1753 of the Netherlands) were producing commercials of sea, sun and nostalgic village scenes and declaring "in the most beautiful country in the world, we drink Greek coffee."'
  28. ^ Cohen, Brad (2014-07-16). "The complicated culture of Bosnian coffee". BBC - Travel: Food & Drink. Retrieved 2014-07-24.
  29. ^ Turska Kafa: Serbian Turkish-Style Coffee