Following a stream of very good discussions about aspects of Turkish coffee preparation, here's a question about coffee selection.

Different brewing methods are thought to highlight different aspects of coffee aroma (e.g., darker roasts for espresso, but lighter for cold brew; see the discussion here). So often when you buy beans at a roastery, there is a recommendation regarding which methods are good for these beans & roast. Thus, a random bag of beans I'm looking at suggests they are good for batch-brew, aeropress, pourover and french press, but not for moka of espresso. But because Turkish isn't a big thing in many countries, it's never mentioned.

May uneducated impression is that Turkish preserves the acidity and keeps bitterness low. Do you guys know what its profile really is? Alternatively, maybe there is a way to predict the suitability of particular beans for Turkish based on its character compared to other methods. E.g., "beans good for aeropress will often be good for Turkish", or "Turkish is the opposite of espresso", etc.

I mean, I know when I like the coffee I made, so there are some favourites to my taste. But I can't disentangle the factors that contribute to my liking: is it the roast? the altitude? the mouthfeel? Which means I don't know what is more relevant, and this don't have properties to guide me in choosing new beans.

1 Answer 1


I believe the answer will be subjective. But, I can answer based on some tradition and history.

The coffee beans were originated from Yemen in Ottoman Empire. At least, Yemen was a hub. (This fact is even mentioned in folk songs. See here and here.) Historically, Robusta beans were not around, yet. Americas were not explored. So, if you want to follow the tradition, stick with African originated Arabica beans. Still, one should note that if you go for the current Turkish commercial ground coffee brands (like Mehmet Efendi, etc.) on the market, most of them include mostly Robusta beans from South America to keep the costs low. This is ugly face of horeca, I assume.

(African originated Arabicas are also my personal preference. My favorite is Ethiopian Harar. As far as I experienced, it is even better than Kopi Luwak for Turkish coffee. Also, this may be a hint. Kopi Luwak is known for low acidity. So, low acidity beans were not good for my taste even it was Kopi Luwak. On the other hand, Kopi Luwak was great while brewed with pressure.)

For roasting the beans, you generally do not need to burn the beans to eliminate the acidity. So, light roasts are OK for Turkish coffee. Majority of commercial brands prepare City roast and the minority prepare American roast (I think). If you taste burnt flavor in a package, it is clearly over roasted; you must be suspicious about the quality of the beans.

(My personal preference is a bit darker than that. City roast to full city roast.)

Last words: I think, as Turkish coffee is just a brewing method, it is up to the drinkers taste either to add sugar/gum/cinnamon/milk or not, either to use Robusta or Arabica, either to roast light or dark. I mean, if the drinkers find it more delicious, they can boil it up for hours (It exists!) before drinking. This is about the taste, so no boundaries. :)

  • A local Turkish merchant who sells coffee and other foodstuffs here in Toronto sells an EXTREMELY light coffee roast, almost light tan in color, have you ever seen this?
    – Warren P
    Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 2:34
  • @WarrenP You know, there are two basic principle of brewing coffee; pressure or heat. Pressure adds acidity. Keep it in mind. Also, roasting decreases acidity, keep it in mind, too. So, many people prefer dark roasts for pressurized brews such as espresso. In Turkish coffee, you don't need that. Still, my personal belief is, a bit of roasting is better to taste the aroma. And finally, about the extremely lightly colored packed(?) Turkish coffees, ask about the Robusta ratio of them. Note that, color of Robusta coffee is lighter than Arabica when roasted.
    – MTSan
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 12:22
  • Ok I have never home-roasted Robusta.
    – Warren P
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 16:01

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