Perhaps you love drinking Turkish coffee but don’t know how to make it. Or maybe you possess both an espresso machine and an active imagination. For whatever reason, you may have considered whether you could make Turkish coffee in an espresso machine. However, before you try this experiment at home, we recommend reading our article to find out more.
Turkish coffee cannot be used in an espresso machine for two crucial reasons. Firstly, Turkish coffee is ground more finely than espresso and will get through filters and damage the machine. Secondly, any product that emerges from the machine will not have the characteristic flavor or consistency of either Turkish coffee or espresso.
While a pack of Turkish coffee might resemble a pack of espresso coffee, there are fundamental differences that mean one cannot be directly substituted for the other. This article explains the ins and outs of Turkish coffee and espresso machines to help you make better coffee decisions.
Why shouldn’t you use Turkish coffee in an espresso machine?
While it might be tempting to experiment with putting Turkish coffee into an espresso machine, there are several good reasons why you shouldn’t.
Damage to the espresso machine
Turkish coffee is ground extremely finely, far more finely than espresso coffee. If you touch Turkish coffee with your fingers, you will feel that the texture is almost that of a coffee powder. In comparison, the individual grains of ground espresso beans are coarser and can be felt against your skin.
Espresso machines are designed and built to brew and filter particles the size found in an espresso coffee grind.
However, suppose you put Turkish coffee into the machine instead. In that case, the finer particles will get through internal filters, potentially clogging or breaking essential parts of the device. This could be a costly mistake, resulting in buying a new espresso machine.
More of the finely ground Turkish coffee will dissolve in water than would happen with the equivalent amount of coarser ground espresso coffee. The Turkish coffee will also foam more.
Both of these features mean that the volume of liquid in the machine could be greater than you expected, causing spillage as well as potential damage inside.
You won’t obtain Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee is a dark, intense drink with a distinctive taste, smell, and consistency.
Unfortunately, the same properties can’t be created by putting Turkish ground coffee through an espresso machine. Instead, traditional Turkish coffee is actually cooked on a stove by brewing it in a small copper or brass pot called a cezve which has a long handle and a pouring lip.
To make an excellent Turkish coffee, mix very finely ground Arabica coffee beans with water in a roughly 1:10 ratio, adding sugar if desired. Heat this mixture in a cezve to just below boiling point for around two minutes on a stove. Once the liquid is foaming slightly, pour into coffee cups and serve.
Before drinking, let the coffee sit for a few minutes to allow the grounds to settle in the bottom of the cup. (While the grounds are not filtered out during the Turkish coffee-making process, they are generally not deliberately consumed.) Sometimes spices such as cardamom are added to the coffee brew as a variation.
As well as traditional copper or brass containers, Turkish coffee can be made in a stainless steel cezve, a small saucepan, or even a specific Turkish coffee machine. It cannot, however, be made in an espresso machine.
You won’t obtain espresso
Espresso is another dark, rich drink with its distinctive taste, smell, and consistency. However, as the unique flavor profile comes from the ground beans and the brewing process, a classic espresso drink can’t be reproduced by substituting Turkish coffee for espresso coffee.
Unlike the smoothness or nutty flavors of a traditional espresso, the liquid that emerges from using Turkish coffee in an espresso machine will probably be very strong and bitter.
Are there Turkish coffee machines?
Nowadays, it is possible to buy machines that simulate the Turkish coffee stove cooking process to produce a cup of Turkish coffee quickly and conveniently.
Turkish coffee machines are available for purchase from various brands, including Arzum Okka and Beko. On Amazon, models with at least four stars start at around $100 for a small coffee maker to $300+ for larger machines.
Can you use other types of coffee in an espresso machine?
You can use ordinary ground coffee in an espresso machine without causing damage to the machine. However, the drink produced may be unpalatable and probably won’t pass for either espresso or ordinary coffee.
A medium grind is used for standard coffee and a finer grind for espresso (although not as finely ground as Turkish coffee). This is because water passes more slowly and thoroughly through more finely ground beans, allowing a more efficient infusion process and resulting in a more robust, richer coffee drink.
When a coarser grind of beans is used in an espresso machine, the water will pass through the coffee grounds more quickly without absorbing as many of the soluble compounds present in the beans. This results in a weaker and less flavorful brew.
If you’re a coffee connoisseur, you’ll probably want to stick to using espresso coffee in your espresso machine. Or perhaps, using a cafetière or filter coffee machine for packs of standard ground coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use a pack of espresso coffee to make Turkish coffee?
Espresso coffee is not suited to the Turkish coffee-making process. It isn’t as finely ground as Turkish coffee and therefore doesn’t dissolve as well in water while being brewed.
Coarser grounds at the bottom of the cezve can also easily stick and burn on the bottom, creating an unpleasant flavor. The final result will not have the correct texture or flavor to be called Turkish coffee.
Is Turkish coffee stronger than espresso?
Turkish coffee and espresso are both intense, concentrated coffee drinks with high levels of caffeine. However, some factors could make one of them stronger than the other (e.g. inclusion of higher-caffeine Robusta coffee beans, Arabica in the espresso mix, or consuming excess coffee grounds from a Turkish coffee cup).
On average, however, they probably contain around the same level of caffeine by volume.
How are Turkish coffee and espresso different?
While traditional Turkish Coffee and Italian espresso may be prepared from the same Arabica coffee beans, they have different preparation and brewing processes. Hence, resulting in very different drinks. Some key differences include:
Grinding – Turkish coffee is ground far more finely than espresso coffee, almost to the consistency of a powder. This makes it more soluble in water.
Filtering – Espresso is a filtered coffee drink in which the filter removes the grounds. Turkish coffee is prepared without removing the coffee grounds and simply allowing most of them to fall to the bottom of the cup before drinking. Therefore, taking in small mouthfuls of fine coffee grounds is normal when drinking Turkish coffee.
Brewing – Espresso is brewed by forcing boiling water through ground beans under a pressure of around nine bar. Turkish coffee is brewed by mixing ground coffee and cold water, then heating them together until almost boiling point before serving.
A final word…
Turkish coffee and espresso are both flavorful and unique coffee drinks with long traditions and wide global appreciation. Respect the nature of both drinks by making each of them with methods and machines that produce the best results.
Enjoy your coffee!