Turkish coffee was a drink conceived in the 16th century in Middle East from where it spread throughout the world. It is prepared in specialized pots that are called by a variety of names. The most commonly used names include the “ibriks” or “cezve” in Arabic and “briki” in Greek. The ibrik was conceived to accommodate the brewing of coffee in the heat of the desert sand. However, it works equally well on a stove.
Design of the Ibrik:
The ibrik is a fairly small pot fabricated out of metal with a fairly large foundation and a narrow neck. The tapering of the neck aids in creating thick foam without having to boil the pot’s contents. The left side of the pot holds the spout, which facilitates pouring without spilling while the pot itself is held with the right hand. Currently finding ibriks with spouts on the right, to accommodate a left handed person is next to impossible.
The traditional metal for fabrication of the pot is copper, however brass, aluminium and stainless steel are now commonly used as well. Turkey is the primary provider of brass and copper ibriks throughout the world. The craftsmen of Anatolia are world renowned for hand crafting and hammering the ibriks. It is also a common practice to paint, engrave or decorate the ibriks with traditional designs and painting them with multicolored glazes. Obviously such hand painted and decorated pots tend to be more costly, they do bring a touch of the east with them.
Characteristics of Different Materials:
Currently the copper pots are most sought after, and one of the most common souvenirs from Turkey. The brass pots have gone out of favour. Copper heats faster than brass and producers prefer to use it for creating the pot. The greater heat conduction means coffee can be prepared quickly, even faster than stainless steel pot! The quality copper pots use copper sheet with a thickness of 1mm to 1.5mm while the cheaper ones use copper sheets that are only 0.5mm thick. Needless to say the thinner the sheet used the faster the pot will erode faster and begin leaking or develop other problems more quickly. Pots make of thicker sheets last for years without any problems.
Since brass is a slower conductor of heat, it is used in crafting the characteristic long handle of the pot. Brass does not get as hot as copper, hence it protects the hands against burning when the coffee is being prepared. Also when in the market for the purchase of a copper or brass pot, it is vital to ensure that brass is free of lead. Copper and brass tend to be costly metals and many manufacturers mix lead with them to cut costs.
Tin is also employed in the making of ibriks. The insides of the copper and brass pots are lined with it as it is good at preventing the water-copper oxidation. Additionally it adds strength to the pots and makes for easy maintenance. However, after years of use the tin does erode and to safeguard health it is important to either get it re-tinned or just purchase a new one.
The stainless steel ibriks are the newest type of Turkish coffee pots and they have quickly become the hot favourite of the new generation of coffee drinkers. While it has a beautiful luster, resists rust and is a breeze to clean, it does not produce foam of the same quality as brass or copper ibriks.
Size of Ibriks:
The size of the ibrik is an important in creating rich foam. When making Turkish coffee in an ibrik, it is important to use an appropriately sized pot. A pot that is too big or small for the amount of coffee being prepared can result in coffee without any foam! Depending on the quantity of coffee being prepared, the water level should reach one inch below the rim of the ibrik.
Different manufacturers use different language to describe the quantity of coffee a given ibrik will hold. When cups are used to describe the quantity, it means a standard sized Turkish cup which holds two ounces or approximately 60 ml. So if you want to prepare two cups, an ibrik with a capacity of three cups should be used, so there is sufficient space for foam to develop.
The concept of small, medium or large has no value when it comes to making Turkish coffee. Many people equate these words with mugs, which hold eight to twelve ounces of coffee. This is much larger than a standard sized Turkish cup which only holds two ounces of liquid.
Volume is the best method of size description. If an ibrik has the capacity of eight ounces this means you have to first deduct two ounces for allowing space in which foam can rise, this leaves six ounces. Divide this by two, as a standard sized cup of Turkish coffee means two ounces, hence the pot will be sufficient for making three cups (6/2=3) of coffee.
The first step in making Turkish coffee is the purchase of a quality Ibrik. There are a very large variety of Turkish coffee pots available, however Turkish pots made from brass are considered to be top of the line. It is important to check the thickness of the brass sheet used to craft the pot in addition to the size and the handle quality to ensure that a quality product is being purchased.