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As a follow up on this discussion of Turkish preparation, I'm wondering how to do the triple heating. This refers to the repeating sequence of heating the coffee in a cezve, and then letting it cool down.

My question is about both stages:

  • how do I know when it's heated enough to take it off the fire, and
  • how much should it be cooled down?

The guides to brewing Turkish usually discuss that at the abstract level: heat + remove three times. I've been trying to do that, but my actions didn't seem to make sense. So right now I'm brewing it just once -- till the foam starts to rise, and enjoy it. But maybe I still can improve it?

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Disclaimer: This will be a long answer. I expect that it wont be as good as I want at first. I may make corrections/additions afterwards. I am a native Turkish, drinking kgs of coffee each week and from a coffee addicted family for generations. Therefore, I count myself as a Turkish-coffee hobbyist.

I believe to understand the two or three times boiling mystery of Turkish coffee, you must understand the whole Turkish-style extraction process. I tell you the whole story.

The chemistry is simple: we are extracting some oils from the beans. Two known ways out there, pressure or heat. Turkish extraction is the traditional, genuine, historical heating way. Actually, it is probably the first and easiest way manhood used in history to prepare coffee (I believe both in Africa and then in Ottoman Empire).

When you heat the beans to extract, you need lots of surface to extract efficiently. That's why you grind the beans as fine as possible. The electrical grinders are not always perfect. You may want to use a mortar after the grinding process to be sure if you don't have a Turkish grinder. (This is another topic, I think.)

Then, the aromatic oils you are trying to extract are not of one kind. There are several kinds. The drink you consume under the name of coffee is delicious if it includes many of them. So, you are trying to jail all of them into the water during the brewing process. But, wait... Some of them start to be released from the bean at 75 degrees Celsius, but some others have been already vaporized at 70 degrees Celsius! There must be a way of collecting all of them.

Bingo! You are right. It is the double (triple, quadruple, ...) heating process.

You should heat the water up to some point, extract a subset of the oils, separate them to your fincan (cup). Then repeat the process at a higher degree. Three times is the best practice among Turks. You may define your own temperature slots and repetition count but I think the algorithm is clear now.

Talking about best practice, let me show you a best practice.

Get you cezve (pot). Mine is stainless steel and thick. Your coffee should not boil on the edges first, it must start to boil from the center. (If this is not the case, either your cezve or your fire is problematic.)

cezve

If you have a hand grinder, set it to the finest.

hand grinder hand grinder setting

Measure the water with fincan (cup) (I prefer soft spring water) and fill your cezve. Traditional fincans are quite thin (in contrast to espresso cups) and porcelain.

fincan

After you fill in your cezve with water, add coffee on top. About one teaspoon per fincan is quite OK. (You may change). I don't recommend sugar for any kind of coffee, but it is your taste. If you want to add sugar, it is now or never.

Floating Turkish coffee

You will see that fine grounded coffee will float and sink in time. Fire up and let the coffee sink by itself. Do not touch or stir. The amount of fire has little or no affect to the taste of Turkish coffee to my experience. There is an urban legend that states that Turkish coffee is best made in wood fire or very slowly in low temperatures, etc. It's nonsense. Then, every aromatic oil will evaporate eventually. You should be quick. These are just romantic/melancholic scenes for old days heard from grandfathers. This was my setting.

Fire setting for Turkish coffee

After a while, all coffee will eventually sink. This is an indicator. Your coffee is somewhat homogeneously distributed in water. Also you have a nice grease remains already on top of water. However, they cannot form a foam yet. Cause, we didn't stir it.

Greasy sunk Turkish coffee

Start stirring.

Stir the Turkish coffee

Now, stop. Please check the foam. You have a quite nice foam already. Very very light color. No bubbles at all. It is not mature yet. If you want to be experienced in Turkish-style coffee brewing, look at that foam a lot. Follow its color and forms.

Foam of Turkish coffee

Stir again. For about a minute. Stirring keeps the foam intact. You may stop from time to time to check the color and then continue. It gets mature when you first see the red/fire color.

Check the second image. Could you see the firefox there? Could you? Ok, now it is time for the first shot. Actually, I would like you to compare the second foam image with the one above. Try to figure out the differences. We started with light color, it turned out to red/fire color. We started with no bubbles, it has bubbles now.

We'll pour some of the coffee to our fincans. I pour the foamy part and fill about 2/5 of my fincans.

Stir the Turkish coffee for first heating The first heating point of Turkish coffee Filled Turkish coffee fincans after first heating

Still, I have enough foam and lots of oils to extract in my ground beans. I continue to heat and stir. Don't forget to stir and keep foam intact. This time the foam turns from red/fire to brown/coffee-bean-color. Still, I'm very far from boiling. Fill another 2/5 of your fincans. The fincans are nearly full.

Heating and stirring Turkish coffee for the second time Turkish coffee in fincans after second heating is done

I would like to keep your attention to one point. At this point, you see the famous marbled foam of Turkish coffee for the first time. The reason is, you've mixed two different subsets of oils for the first time. Our final destination is to produce a coffee foam marbled with three colors.

Marbled foam of Turkish coffee

Now, we hardly have any foam left in our cezve. We are heating the coffee for the last shot. This will be very close to the boiling point. You can hardly see any foam now, but mostly bubbles. At one point, the boiling starts in the middle. Take the cezve out of the fire very quickly to prevent burning the coffee and pour the rest of the coffee to the fincans.

(You really need to be quick, so I couldn't find time to focus and burnt the coffee a bit. Still, you can sense the boiling center. Sorry, for this picture and also I cannot provide a triple marbled foam for now as it burnt.)

Nearly boiling Turkish coffee in cezve Turkish coffee in fincan

Normally, there shouldn't be any grounds remain in cezve. Everything must be dissolved homogeneously in water.

There shouldn't be remains in the cezve

Traditionally, we prefer to serve Turkish coffee with half a sip of liquor of sharp tastes. Like mint, quince, sour cherry or bitter almond. This time, it was hazelnut liquor.

Turkish coffee serving

A correctly prepared Turkish coffee is not a suspension of coffee grounds in water. Coffee grounds lay at the bottom and never fill in your mouth. The drinkable part stays on top.

Turkish coffee layers

Final words: This is it. I hope both theoretic and practical part helps people. Please leave comments so I can further advance this answer in time.

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    What a great answer! I'll get back to you after I make it. – Ivan Kapitonov Jan 2 '16 at 3:25
  • Ok, it will be a while before I master it :-) One thing that makes this process more difficult for me is that my cezve is a more "traditional" (?) shape, narrowing at the top (slope ~30 deg). I saw your recommendation in another post. But can you please add some advice on what to do with such a cezve? Two major prolems are: a. coffee doesn't sink easily in the narrow neck, and b. after the "first shot" I don't see very well inside it. What I made so far is closer to the authentic taste, but not good enough yet. – Ivan Kapitonov Jan 2 '16 at 4:36
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    A thinner cezve cannot distribute the heat very well. It is harder to keep the pace with it. A few hints: [1] You must be quick. You may try to lower the fire. Some of the oils will evaporate. :( [2] Brew for just one fincan. [2a] so you can control easier. [2b] In a narrow neck, sharing the foam to fincans may be a problem. This solves it. [3] Instead of seeing the bubbles from the center, you will see a ring rising from the edges in a thin cezve. Try to observe it. The colors will be the same. – MTSan Jan 2 '16 at 14:26
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    If you have a pot thermometer, you may try the timing and degrees from this recipe, also. Turkish Coffee Culture and Research Association's Recipe – MTSan Jan 2 '16 at 14:28
  • During the weekend, I have visited my sister in Ankara. She has prepared a very delicious double-heated Turkish coffee. I couldn't help but took a photograph. You can see double colored marbled foam in the image. – MTSan May 24 '16 at 13:59
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Put the pot in water for Turkish coffee. Add the coffee pot (1 teaspoon to 1 cup). Pot start heating. You can add sugar. Take the pot starting to boil water. Exactly actually it supposed to take before reaching the boiling point. :) Chocolate and coffee is good. But my favorite Nescafe gold.

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