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Greek or Turkish Briki

Kuhan Paramsothy had a serious coffee problem.  His stressful job as a software engineer has caused him to purchase eight cups of coffee a day.  His solution: buy a coffee maker, so he would be able to save some money and also drink more coffee.  While looking through his different coffee making options from the French Press to the percolator to the automatic drip coffee maker, he stumbled on some strange, long handled pot with a funny name.

While deluxe super-automatic espresso machines flood the market and more and more specialty coffees become the coffee drink of choice, the true coffee purist understands the appeal of the Briki.  Called the briki in Greece, the ibrik in Turkey, and the cezves in Arabic speacking countries, this coffee brewer is designed to make Turkish coffee.  The original coffee maker, an ibrik would make a great addition to any coffee lover's kitchen.

The ibrik was designed to brew coffee on the hot desert sands but can now be used with a stove burner.  It is a long-handled pot that contains a brass, copper, or stainless steel container.  The ibrik is slender at the top with a wider base at the bottom.  These dimensions are essential in the proper brewing of Turkish coffee.  The pot is quiet small, although there is now a variety of ibriks that have different sizes that can be used depending on the number of people one wants to serve, and the ibrik contains a grooved lid for pouring.  Still popular in the Middle East, the ibrik is an excellent way to brew Turkish coffee or Greek coffee, which is actually just a variation of Turkish coffee.  The coffee made with an ibrik is renowned for its foam, which many feel is the best part of the drink.

The Briki is best used when it is brewed for three to four small cups of coffee.  It can contain between six and 10 ounces of coffee and it is highly recommended that very fine to the point of being powdered coffee grinds are used when brewing with a briki.  If the coffee grounds that are used are too coarse, the water will not be properly sealed during boiling and will result in a poor tasting beverage.  The briki can hold several cups of water and can produce a number of coffee drinks that are praised for its strong body and the fact that it is steaming hot when it's made.  To make a great cup of Turkish coffee, it is recommended that you add sugar and cardamon to the brewed coffee.  If you are making Greek coffee with the briki, you are able to make it in four different ways.  For a strong and bitter taste that has no sugar, you will be making Greek sketos coffee.  By adding one teaspoonful of sugar, you will be making a metrios style of Greek coffee that has a medium sweet taste.  The glykys or vari glykos style of Greek coffee refers to a taste that can be described as honey-sweet.  The glykys vrastos style of Greek coffee also contains a sweet taste but has less froth due to the fact that it is boiled more than once.

To brew an excellent cup of coffee using an ibrik, follow these steps:

  1. Fill up the ibrik with cold water until it's approximately 2/3 full.
  2. For sweetened coffee, add a sweetener like sugar into the ibrik.
  3. Add the appropriate amount of ground coffee.  It is recommended that you use more coffee than needed, as it would add to the thickness of the foam.  The coffee will then form a cap over the water
  4. Heat the ibrik and watch, as the boiling water will bubble up through the coffee grounds.
  5. Remove the ibrik from heat when the water begins to foam up.
  6. Allow the coffee to settle and bring it back to the heat source.
  7. Repeat the last two steps until the coffee has foamed up three times.
  8. Stir and serve the drink into either a demi-tasse (Greek for a half-cup) or an espresso cup.
  9. Let the coffee grounds settle and then drink up.

While the ibrik may not be useful as a principal coffee maker in your home, it is still an excellent instrument to have around whenever you feel the need for a good, strong cup of Turkish coffee.