Monday, February 28, 2005


turkish coffee, part iii

even the mermaid's getting in on the act now. turkish coffee is breaking out all over.

please see my first take on turkish coffee and the second here.

a friend of mine, a retailer himself, quipped this morning that turkish is a perfect vehicle for the mermaid's over-roasted beans: "since you burn the coffee anyway, no one will notice." ouch.

it's just true that turkish coffee is a paradigm that violates several sacred tenets of the specialty coffee ethic. to which i cling as an scaa-lovin' consumer member.

however, as i myself have discovered, turkish can be an interesting alternative cup -- but only if very carefully prepared. since it loses the delicate aromatics, the heavy base notes and aftertaste dominate the drink.

this does theoretically allow you to use lesser quality beans, no doubt, since it's probably pointless to pay large dollars for blueberry notes that will be lost anyway due to the method of preparation.

but the problem in a fast-service context is the same problem the mermaid has in all her endeavors: the careful preparation part. is there a turkish coffee equivalent of the superautomatic espresso machine that will allow mere people-behind-the-counter to make a decent cup by simply pushing a button?

while turkish is made quickly, it also requires super-focussed attention to minimize boiling, and a perfect grind. also, i got good results only by using the highest quality yemen mocha sanani i could get my hands on.

the chocolate, molasses, and tobacco finishing notes in this gillies yemen manage to survive the turkish process, if performed with utmost care.

the raw sugar used in the turkish recipe actually highlights the molasses and chocolate feeling, while adding literal tiny pinches of cinnamon and cardamom compensate for the loss of the other aromatics.

there's also going to be a roast issue for starbucks, as several people have argued to me that despite widespread beliefs to the contrary, turkish coffee should actually be lightly roasted. similarly widespread seems to be the idea that turkish blends served in the middle east are inevitably rio-y.

(rio-y is in most countries considered a foul taste fault, a caustic nasty flavor coffee beans acquire when they have been attacked by vicious beasties -- like streptococci, rhizopus, etc. -- during the drying process. since this used to happen commonly in natural brazils, it acquired the name "rio."

the compounds responsible for this ugliness are methylisoborneol and most often trichloroanisole molecules, which are also found in corked wine. methylisoborneol also commonly appears in robusta.)

i encourage you all dear readers to make some more turkish and tell me what you think!

posted by fortune | 7:37 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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