Brewing Turkish coffee is one of my fondest memories, and reminds me of little gatherings at our house. I started drinking coffee very late in life, I was about 25, but I learned to brew it when I was a teenager. I would prepare a cup for my parents from time to time, or even for our guests, my dad was saying that I brewed the best coffee. I mostly drink now espresso; however, I enjoy a nice cup of Turkish coffee from time to time .
Turkish coffee is a method of brewing, is probably one of the oldest ways to brew the black nectar, and for those who like a strong coffee it is one of the best methods of brewing.
From a technical point of view, Turkish brew can be prepared by either infusing, or boiling the ground coffee. The best aroma and taste are preserved by infusing coffee, and not boiling it. Coffee is brought to a raise, and then taken off the stove and served. Too much heat, or boiling, and the aromatic oils in coffee are gone, because they are relatively volatile.
In order to make the extraction very efficient, and given the relatively short time of steeping, coffee is ground very fine, almost to a powder. This allows a more complete extraction, and it gives your final cup its famous body.
A little bit about Turkish grind, and why does it have to be so fine. French press and Turkish coffee are similar brew types; they are using immersion as the extraction method. The differences are the steeping time, the water temperature, and the grind size. French press has a shorter steeping time, than Turkish. French press has the coarsest grind, of the two, while Turkish needs the finest grind size of all brewing methods.
In fact, this what makes Greek or Turkish coffee special, the particularly fine grind. The ideal preparing temperature should be under the boiling point, so that the aromatic oils are not evaporated during brewing. With a low temperature, steeping longer will compensate. But what really makes this brew type special is the fine grind, that allows a more complete extraction, and give the final cup the distinctive extra body.
The Best Grinder for Turkish Coffee – The Traditional One
One of the most important factors when preparing Turkish coffee is the grinding. The grind size is finer than espresso, as I said, it’s a powder. There are many electrical burr grinders that claim to grind Turkish, but in reality they don't. And since the size of the grinds is critical for this brewing method, it’s probably wise to stick with something proven to work for a couple of hundred years. The best grinder for Turkish coffee is the traditional, manual one, although is not the most convenient.
The traditional Turkish grinder is a manual device with a specially designed burr grinding mechanism, calibrated to grind coffee beans into a powder. It requires some manual dexterity, and some physical effort to grind, but nothing that the average person can’t handle. However, if you have problems with arthritic pain, or other conditions that affects your hand coordination, or physical strength, this might not be for you.
A traditional Turkish coffee mill is a beautiful device, most of the times made of brass, or copper, with specific Middle East ornaments. The most common design is a cylindrical device, with the grinding mechanism on the upper side, and with a small collecting container at the bottom. After the beans are ground, the lower part can be opened to get your ground coffee. The Turkish mill is held with one hand and with the other hand it is operated the handle, to start grinding. There are also versions with a small wooden box at the bottom, so the mill has more stability on the table. These are somewhat easier to operate, and the collecting container, (a wooden drawer), is slightly larger.
This is a manual grinder, made in Turkey, decently sized. It is calibrated for Turkish grind size and it has durable burrs, that will last you for life. Its design with Middle East engraving looks great, and it makes a nice piece in most kitchen.
You need a little bit of work to grind for a cup, but you will finish the task before the water comes to a boil. You can adjust the grind size, however, it is designed for Turkish coffee as a primary grind size, and it won't do coarse French press size, not even drip, but you can get a nice espresso grind with the appropriate adjustments.
Electric Turkish Grinders
Well, if you need an easier way to get your Turkish grind, there are some options there, but these come at a price. Most European commercial grinders are equipped to grind Turkish by default. In North America, however, this is not a standard, and mid range commercial grinders need a special burrs set for the task. Many manufacturers of home coffee grinders claim that their machine grinds Turkish size; don’t get fooled by their claim, Turkish burr grinders need powerful motors, something you don't see in a home grinder.
Even commercial grinders, need a special set of burrs to be able to pulverize the beans to the needed grind size. But if you have the money to spend, this would be the best investment for your daily cup. Some of the options for a commercial grinder are Bunn G1, G2, G3 and the MHG, which have a special burr kit for Turkish. A commercial grinder should be around 800-1000$, and the burrs around 200$.
Another great machine is the Mahlkonig ek43, which is two times more expensive than the Bunn, but it is a beast. This machine will get you one of the best grinds for both Turkish and espresso, if equipped with the right burrs. Here is Matt Perger’s post about Mahlkonig, and why is this great grinding machine. Obviously, this isn't a home grinding machine, but hey, just wanted to tease you a bit.
Capresso Infinity are among the very affordable and great quality home grinders. With a simple, no fuss design, and 16 grind settings, this grinding machine is all you need for brewing at home. The grinding size ranges from very coarse to espresso, and even finer, so you can literally cover almost every brew method: Espresso, drip, pour over, aeropress, moka pot, French pot, percolator, etc... Although the machine has a setting for Turkish, it doesn't really grind that fine. In all fairness though, none of the home grinding machines can. What I do, is to grind it at the finest setting with Capresso, and then run it through a blade grinder one more time. I explained this in another paragraph.
These machines are very reliable, they can last you a lifetime, or until you decide to upgrade for a stepless machine.
Blade Grinders for Turkish Coffee
I know, blade grinders get slammed a lot on the Internet, and almost all of the experts are telling you that you shouldn't even consider buying one. But for Turkish coffee they might be the cheap acceptable solution. In fact I have been using them since ever for preparing my black, muddy concoction. I have my roots in the Eastern Europe, and I remember pre-ground coffee by the 100 grams. The blade grinder was used for grinding the special coffee we would get in the Christmas package from our relatives in the West. Yes, I still use a blade grinder for Turkish, and my coffee is great, and I will share with you my tricks.
I have a decent home burr grinder, (a Capresso Infinity), which I use for pre-grinding. I set the grind size to Turkish, and grind my coffee. Now this coffee is not the right size, is way to coarse for an authentic delicious Turkish coffee, so I take it and put it in the blade grinder. Yes, everything that’s said about blade coffee mills is right, they overheat the beans, and they grind unevenly. However, with my techniques these two inconveniences can be avoided. The pulse technique will allow coffee to cool down between pulse cycles, so make sure you only grind for short periods of time. The time will vary from machine to machine. The other trick is to mix the ground coffee in the machine. The reason is that ground coffee sticks to the walls and the bottom of the machine, and the blade will only hit a small portion of it turning that into powder. When you mix into it you will allow coffee to cool down, and will allow a more even grind.
If you don't have a burr grinder, you can still use the blade one alone, it’s just going to take longer. You start the process from beans and stop from time to time to mix. The finer the coffee gets the more often you need to stop, because it heats up faster.
Zassenhaus Manual Coffee Grinder
It is not possible to get a Turkish with burr grinders because most of them don't have a setting for Turkish, or when they have it, it's not grinding fine enough. Blade grinders can pulverize the beans into a Turkish coffee grind, but you have to be very careful so you don't overheat the beans.
That's why I love manual coffee grinders, they don't overheat the grinds, and they turn your beans into a real powder as they should. The Zassenhaus is one of the best manual coffee mills on the market, that can actually grind Turkish.
Solid brass manual grinder - perfect for grinding Greek, Turkish and Espresso coffee style. Adjustable grinding mechanism that can produce an ultra fine powder. This coffee mill is built to last for ever, and it's really a high end coffee grinder. Sometimes you will need to recalibrate the mill so it grinds really fine, but it is not too difficult.