Nowadays there are a thousand different ways to drink coffee. From filter over caps and pads to espresso beans and back. But how about the original brew? Turkish cardamom coffee is the original way to drink coffee when as it became popular in the Ottoman Imperium. Apart from the recipe and a lot of additional hints, you will also learn about the history of coffee further down in this article.
How to make Turkish cardamom coffee?
Turkish coffee with cardamom is actually very easy to make. You don't need a coffee maker, espresso machine or filters. Just a saucepan. Or a cezve, the authentic Turkish pan in which it is traditionally brewed.
First of all we mix the coffee, sugar and cardamom powder in the saucepan/cezve. Then we add the cold water. It is important that all ingredients are present from the start. Following we slowly heat the coffee, without letting it boil or overcook. Take the coffee off the heat once it starts foaming. If desired you may repeat this a few times for an extra strong version. Then you can pour the coffee into the cups.
Of course, the grinds will go along with the coffee into the cups. That's why it's best to let the coffee settle for a minute before drinking it. So the grinds can sink to the bottom. That is also the reason why we have to add the sugar from the beginning. Otherwise it will dissolve difficultly, and due to the grinds stirring is not the right option. And of course don’t drink your coffee until the last drip. As it will be full of grinds.
Turkish coffee is served typically with a glass of water. Not as you might suspect to rinse your mouth afterwards. On the contrary. You take a sip of water beforehand to prepare your mouth for the delicious taste to come.
So all in all, this is a very easy one. However, there are a number of things that we should pay attention to in order to achieve the best results. We'll go into that a bit further now.
Which coffee should I use?
There is ground coffee and ground coffee. You will therefore not achieve the same good result with every type. The coffee must be very finely ground for optimal results. A bit like cocoa powder or icing sugar. You can grind the coffee yourself. But there are also specialty stores to sell ultra grounded coffee, special for this Oriental boiling method.
Can I add sugar later on?
Short answer: no. For Turkish cardamom coffee, ask your guests in advance how they like their coffee. Unsweetened, sweet, or very sweet (double the amount of sugar). The sugar has to boil and dissolve from the beginning. When we pour the coffee into the cups, it has to come to rest. So that the grinds sink to the bottom. If we then add sugar without stirring, it will no longer melt and spread over the coffee. If we do and stir, the grinds will be all over again. So ask first, and drink as ordered. It also means that if people want different amounts of sugar, you have to make different batches.
Cardamom powder or pods?
You can use both. If you have pods, count on two to three pods per cup. Somewhat according to your own taste. Open the pods and remove the inner seeds. Crush them with a mortar or knife before adding them to the coffee.
If you have cardamom powder at home, you can use it. You lose a little taste, so you can use a little more.
You can also buy coffee with cardamom directly in the specialty store. Much easier of course. And if you don’t use cardamom that often, this may also be a good alternative. Although we also have a golden tip for that: cardamom cupcakes.
Can I also use other spices?
As you can read later in this article, the custom of adding extra spices to coffee originated in Constantinople. In addition to cardamom, Turkish coffee was also flavored with, for example, cloves, cinnamon and star anise. Fairly the same concept as masala milk tea. For that, the Indians added almost the same spices to their milk tea to give extra flavor.
A short history of coffee
Turkish coffee should not be associated with today's Turkey. But rather with the former Ottoman-Turkish Empire. And that stretched all over the Arabian Peninsula, around the Mediterranean and also in parts of East Africa. I still remember a trip to Zanzibar, the island off the Tanzanian coast, which had a very Arab culture.
"Devilish" berries in Ethiopia.
But back to history. How did coffee originate? Who had the idea of first brewing coffee? And was it intentional, or as in so many cases an accident? We will sort it out.
And for that we have to go back to an Ethiopian goat herder in 850 AD. He saw how his goats were fond of the berries of a bush and behaved very exuberantly. Curious, he tried those berries himself. And became as elated and excited as his goats. He ran to the nearest monastery, where the head monk did not share his enthusiasm for the diabolical berries. On the contrary, he threw the berries into the fire. And so he unwittingly became the first coffee roaster. The delicious smell of the burnt berries filled the monastery. Some young monks took the roasted berries out of the fire and dipped them in the water. And found that it tasted so well, and they could work all night! And so the first energy drink began its conquest of the world.
Spreading into the Ottoman Empire
Around the 1000s, traders from Yemen brought the beans from Ethiopia. And they cultivated the shrubs in plantations in their own region. And the drink they brewed from it also got a name: "qawha", which means "that which prevents sleep".
Around 1450, Ottoman merchants introduced coffee to the empire's capital, Constantinople. They spiced the brew with spices they knew: cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and aniseed to give it extra flavor. So that's whem our Turkish cardamom coffee originates.
Around 1475, the first coffee houses (kahwa) opened in Constantinople. Social contacts develop best with a nice drink. These talking and discussion houses are the forerunners of our cafés. It was now also known as an aphrodisiac, and even as a legal reason for divorce (if you could not make good coffee).
In the 16th century, the coffee houses are so popular that the governor of Mecca banned them out of fear for a revolution. But nothing is holier than coffee. And so the ban turns against him. He lost his position and head…
And the rest of the world.
Coffee arrived in Venice and India in the 16th and 17th centuries. To maintain the monopoly, the Arabs had banned the export of fertile beans. But something forbidden is also an attractive thing to do. And so an Indian pilgrim, Baba Budan, smuggled the fertile beans back to his homeland. And started growing it himself. For that, he became a saint on the Indian continent and a region was even named after him.
This new Satanic drink is also growing in popularity in Venice. So much so that the church got involved. But Pope Clement VIII liked the drink of the heretical Arabs so much that he decided to embrace the devil: the coffee was baptized and converted into a Christian drink. If you can’t beat them, join them, he must have taught.
Read more about the history of coffee:
- The history of coffee (National Coffee Association)
- Coffee: origin, types, uses, history & facts (Britannica)
- The caffeinated history of coffee (PBS)
- A brief history of coffee (local histories)
- History of coffee - Wikipedia
Oriental cuisine is more than delicious. I fell in love with it during a vacation trip in Jordanie. So find some more oriental inspiration in the following recipes:
If you speak Dutch, you can find the Dutch version of this recipe on gerechtenweb.blog.