An ancient Turkish saying dictates three properties truly good coffee must possess.

Coffee must be:
Black as night
Hot as hell
And sweet as love.


I have now read a number of variations on this theme, attributed to anything from Talleyrand to something of indeterminate Italian origin to the American south. Regardless, the sentiment stands. Some variations include one of the following lines:

Strong as death

Strong as sin

Pure as an angel

Combine any of the first three elements with your choice of the last three elements and regardless of the origin of your saying, I can guarantee that you will enjoy what you drink.

Turkish Coffee requires dark, finely ground coffee. In fact, the Turkish grind is the finest possible grind. I prefer to use French Roast, number one grind (Turkish grind), which Peet's Coffee will not sell to you. This is because French Roast turns into an oil when it is that fine, and gums up the machines. I get around this by waiting for a new Peet's to open up, or for one of the several Peet's Coffees around Berkeley to hire a new guy. Then, I get the new employees to grind my coffee. It only sounds evil if you don't know what tremendous coffee it makes.

Although the only way to make really good Turkish coffee is to learn by trial and error, preferably with a good head start provided by an elder family member (in my case, my Lebanese grandmother. I have an advantage because my family of Arab Jews drinks Turkish coffee almost exclusively). I can give a brief recipe:

Boil your water in a pot. Turkish coffee cups are quite similar to espresso shots, and you will want one of these full of water for each cup you plan to make.

Just as the first bubbles start to form, add in approx. one teaspoon of sugar (you will need to fine tune by trial and error. Tablespoons also work). Stir in the sugar.

Then, as the bubbles start to form again, mix in your coffee. Heaping teaspoons (or tablespoons). Once again, you will need to learn experimentally what is the best amount of coffee to use.

After the coffee is stirred in, wait for it to start to boil. Instead of roiling and bubbling, it should simply rise. It will do this very quickly, and you need to pull it off the heat before it overflows.

Replace the coffee on the heat, allow it to rise as high as possible without spilling, allow it to settle down all the way again and then let it boil one more time.

After it has been boiled like this a total of three times, pour it into your cups. Remember to pour a little in each cup before filling them, to distribute the foam equally.

This is roughly my recipe. Other people use cardamom or other spices. Every aspect of the recipe is subject to experimentation and change. As long as what you make is black, strong and sweet, go with what works.

If you flip over your cup when finished, one can read fortunes in the grounds (much like tea leaves).

Additionally, one can make awesome mocha syrup for ice cream by mixing the left over sludge from the pot into some of your favorite chocolate syrup.

One may make an ersatz turkish coffee by requesting a double short pull espresso at Peet's Coffee and then mixing in some brown sugar.

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