You can prepare excellent coffee using a coffee maker. It doesn’t require any specialized knowledge or skills. You just buy the coffee and press the button. Although making coffee in a turk is more time consuming, to some there is no other way. Why do so many people reject the blessings bestowed upon them by technological progress, and persist in using the ancient Turks’ method? The answer is straightforward — turks can brew a delicious coffee that makes one immediately forget newfangledd coffee makers. Coffee machines are useful early in the morning when you’re in a hurry to get to work, but if you have the time, desire and mood, you can give yourself great pleasure with the help of this coffee ceremony. If you are serious about coffee, you will undoubtedly be able to achieve the perfect cup with the Turkish method. The shape, size, material, wall thickness, and length of the handle are all important. We are ready to tell you the characteristics of different types of turks, so you wont have any difficulty deciding.
What are Turks?
“Turk” is actually a colloquial name that has become common in everyday life. It shows the geographic origin of coffee from Turkey, shortened to turk. The original name of turk is from the old Arabic for “pots”. The material turks (pots) are made of is the deciding factor for our choice. Which material should you select for your turk? Metal, copper, ceramic or clay? To make this important decision you must know the advantages and disadvantages of each material. For some the most important criteria is the appearance — lovely design, beautiful color, or perfectly fits the design of their kitchen. Others prefer to choose the most environmentally friendly and safe materials. And for some, the wear resistance and durability of the product is most important.
- Copper turks are the most traditional. The unique properties of copper – excellent thermal conductivity and uniform heating – make it possible to prepare the best and most delicious coffee, and a vast majority of brewed coffee fans agree. It is a known fact that boiling destroys the taste of coffee. Burned coffee oils distort the natural flavor and saturate it with unwanted bitterness. But copper turks are the perfect tool to allow you to control the heating process. Since copper turks are covered with a thin layer of tin, you must monitor the coating carefully, because the copper can form compounds that pose a threat to human health.
- Ceramic turks have long, thick ceramic walls which retain heat. The first time you use your ceramic turk, you will find that even after removing it from the heat, the drink will continue to boil for some time. So, you will have to adapt if you want to make a delicious crema, and not spill it. The significant advantage of ceramic turks is that they are easy to care for (with a basic wash) and do not absorb odors. Coffee cooked in a ceramic turk is of excellent quality. Unfortunately ceramics have a significant drawback — they are brittle. Pots should be protected from bumps and falls, and they can last a very long time if properly handled.
- Clay turks are inexpensive, so you can save more money than buying its copper counterpart. Coffee made in a clay turk will simply be superb. The porous structure of the walls allows the beverage to be saturated with oxygen. The varieties of coffee that you cook in a clay turk will remain there forever. Clay is a living material, which perfectly absorbs coffee oil. If you have a favorite type of coffee, and you don’t intend to change, the clay Turk is the perfect choice. If you occasionally experiment with different varieties, the clay turk might produce a mixture of the flavors you prepare. If you decide to buy one, note that it is even more fragile than ceramic. It’s susceptible to mechanical damage and to changes in temperature, and it may crack when washing.
- Aluminum turks are characterized by practicality and affordability. Keep in mind that at high-temperature aluminum may react with the contents of the turk. If you decide on aluminum, I recommend the Lemrabet aluminum turk.
- Turks made of stainless steel are excellent because they do not react with hot drinks nor affect its taste. They also are very affordable because the cost of materials is so low. But with all its pros, stainless steel cannot compete with copper for thermal conductivity. Using steel pots allows pockets of high temperature to form directly at the point of heating. If the water boils at the bottom of the cup, the tender, delicate coffee oil will burn and the drink won’t be perfect. It’s just like preparing food in a steel pan — a slight char on the bottom of the food distorts the taste of the whole dish.
Those are the main types of turks available, although you may find them in small city shops made from various silver alloys (the most expensive), heat-resistant glass and even crystal (probably more for looks than a practical tool in the kitchen). These turks don’t have many options, and we didn’t put them in the list because they really don’t meet the standard. Their wide neck nullifies any attempt to cook real coffee, because it allows the flavors of the drink to instantly evaporate.
There are many opinions on the best shape for a turk. Turks should only be one shape – conical – full bottom and narrow neck. The full bottom is necessary to create maximum heating area, and a narrow neck creates a kind of plug which blocks the access of oxygen and hinders the evaporation of essential oils. If the neck of the turk is not narrow, the coffee will lose some of its aromatic characteristics. The degree of inclination of the walls is also important. The stronger the slope, the faster coffee grounds will settle after preparation. Again, copper turks are best because it is easy to create a narrow neck in a copper turk. This is much more difficult when dealing with other materials.
The volume of the turks
Everyone agrees — the smaller the turk, the better the coffee prepared in it. If you’ve ever attempted to make coffee in bulk in a turk, the result was inevitably worse than if you made each coffee individually. Ideally, the gold standard for turks’ volume is 100 ml, since the traditional coffee recipe is one teaspoon of ground coffee to 75 ml of water. Preparing a large volume of coffee in a turk is practically impossible because of the rising foam, which plays the role of kind of plug or lid. If the turk is not full enough, it will be impossible to create that lovely foam.
The primary job of the turk handle is to save you from getting burnt while cooking. To do this, the handle should be extended so that it is not heated during the cooking process. There are removable handles that many believe convenient because they are easier to wash and store. In either case, let’s focus on the material the handle is constructed from. We recommend the safest option – wooden handles. Wood heats very slowly, so your hands will be safe. Also, wood is eco-friendly, natural and very tough (durable). The main shortcoming of a wooden handle is that the junction between the pot and the handle can get a bit shaky, especially when washing. Metal is also an acceptable handle choice, as long as the metal has low thermal conductivity. Avoid plastic no matter how good it looks. When heated, plastic produces a characteristic odor which will ruin the taste of your freshly brewed coffee. Another tip – when you are ready to buy a turk, make sure the handle fits conveniently in your palm.
Turk wall thickness
We continue to learn the nuances of the correct turk selection. The thickness of the turk’s bottom wall can be controversial. For example, pots intended to be used on the coffee roasting pan in the sandbox should have a thicker bottom than those that are used on an induction cooker. According to most experts, the optimum thickness for the wall and floor of the copper turk is half a millimeter. A well-made turk is manufactured from a single sheet of copper, so that the lower part (bottom) should not be thicker than the upper (wall). If it is not, it was probably manufactured using soldering technology, which causes the soldering locations themselves to be quite vulnerable, and might contain dangerous soldering metals such as silver.
Again, remember that the bottom and entire inner surface of the turk should be constructed from food grade metals. Typically, this will be tin or stainless steel, but in a more costly form, silver is a good choice. It even has antibacterial properties. If you discover a terrific vintage copper turk at the flea market and decide to add it to your collection, be sure to check the inner layer before use. If you find even the slightest injury, you need to get the surface re-tinned.
Getting ready to use the turk
Turks are a very versatile tool for brewing coffee, and can be used almost anywhere — in the sand on the coals, over an open flame or on a stove. Before you brew, you need to properly prepare the turk. If your pot is completely brand-new, thoroughly wash it with only water — no detergents. Small particles of detergent can clog the pores of the vessel and remain there forever. The recommended way to clean pots is straightforward:
- Fill it with water;
- Add lemon slices;
- Bring it to a boil.
This method will disinfect the pot and prepare it for later use. Alternatively, turks can be washed with a small amount of baking soda. All other methods will have a negative impact on taste.
There is another little trick that coffee connoisseurs use: let the first batch of coffee take little longer to prepare so the turk’s walls are immersed in the coffee’s essential oils. Your next pot of coffee will be really tasty and fragrant.
If you would like to share your secrets for choosing the perfect turk, your opinions about them or just comment, you are welcome — Lemarbet is always glad to communicate with site visitors.