Bittersweet Symphony: Turkish Coffee

Sarah Karnasiewicz

In 16th-century Turkey, coffee was the elixir of royalty, brewed by a kahvecibasi, or chief coffee maker, who was considered a trusted member of the sultan's court. As the consumption of coffee entered the public domain, the velvety drink was sipped almost everywhere, both on significant social occasions and at intimate family gatherings. Nowadays, expatriate Turks in America, such as the Boston-based chef Ozcan Ozan, still prepare the caffeinated drink traditionally. For Ozan, the earthy aroma of Turkish coffee, known as kahveh, triggers an image of his mother, working a handheld grinder to brew his father's after-dinner cup.

Ozan, who owns the Sultan's Kitchen in Boston, outlined for SAVEUR a series of easy steps that produce a foolproof demitasse. Best made in a cevze, or a petite, long-handled pot (a small saucepan also does the trick), the coffee is first boiled with sugar and water over a low flame. When foam begins to appear, lift the saucepan or cevze from the stove and scoop the foam into a cup. Simmer the rest of the coffee; then bring it to a quick boil, pour it over the foam, and serve it immediately. Properly made, the coffee has a thick accumulation of sugar and a rich trail of finely ground coffee lining the bottom of the cup.

To purchase Turkish coffee and other related products, visit Ayhan's Mediterranean Marketplace or Kalustyan's.