Trying Turkish Coffee

During reorganizing my pantry, I noticed I had an unopened bag of Turkish coffee. In my previous job as a marketing executive for a vehicle telematics company, we worked with vendors and partners around the world. One partner in particular was to launch our product white-labeled under their brand in Turkey.* This partner had flown out to meet the extended team in person and conduct strategy sessions. As an office gift, they brought bags of Turkish coffee for the staff.

I couldn’t read the Turkish instructions, so I asked them how to make it. The president of the company laughed and warned me not to use more than a heaping teaspoon per mug of boiling water or I’d be up until the following week. This warning sunk in and I decided to take a bag home rather than attempt to make myself a cup in the office at 5 p.m.

As things go, this bag of coffee sat on our kitchen counter for about a week taunting me to try it. I asked my husband if he had ever drank it on his international business travels. He shared that it was too strong, even for him. This coming from a man who single-handedly keeps our local Starbucks profitable with his three purchased coffees per day, plus the two strong cups he makes at home in the morning. On weekends, he’s been known to make a fully caffeinated cup after dinner…and yet still manages to go to sleep at 11 p.m.

I, on the other hand, will have a single cup of coffee and feel the effects almost instantly. So much so that my acupuncturist told me to switch to green tea because it would be better for my adrenal glands. Scientifically speaking, coffee stimulates your adrenal glands, which creates a fight or flight response in the body. Unless you’re running a marathon after to burn off the adrenaline, you’re sitting with these hormones swirling. It’s no wonder we have corporations full of agitated office workers sitting at their desk and drinking coffee, with adrenaline to burn off and no way to get it out other than through personal interaction. Our lizard brains already work on overdrive, they don’t need caffeine to fuel them.

Needless to say, I wasn’t sure I wanted to experience Turkish coffee. So the bag went into the pantry and sat next to our other coffee beans until this morning. I pulled it out and stared at it, trying to decide if today would be the day that I got up the guts to jump on the adrenaline train.

My usual Wednesday morning clients had rescheduled for either later in the day or later in the week, so it was my first ‘open’ morning in a long time. My first client call wouldn’t be for four more hours. If I was going to try it, today would be the day.

I boiled water and poured it in a mug. Using my measuring teaspoon, I scooped a heap and added it.

Heaping Teaspoon
Heaping teaspoon of Turkish coffee grinds.

I stirred it up and yet the coffee grinds didn’t dissolve. So I kept stirring. I took a sip, which was gritty.

Mixing Turkish Coffee
Mixing Turkish coffee grinds.

I thought to myself, “Maybe I need to heat it again after I add the grinds.”

So I popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then stirred it again. It was too hot to sip so I continued stirring it as it cooled a bit. No matter how much I stirred, the consistency didn’t change. I took another sip, it was as gritty as the first and tasted earthy.

The flavor was not that of coffee that I’ve grown to love and crave. The texture felt uncomfortable in my mouth and against my teeth. After about four sips, I decided that was enough. I had experienced it. I now know what it tastes and feels like. No need to send my adrenals into shock for something that I didn’t get pleasure from.

I’m sure if I had grown up with it as part of my everyday life, I might have a different appreciation for it. And that’s ok that “it isn’t my cup of coffee” (so to speak).


*For confidentiality reasons, I cannot disclose the partner company or brand name as I am not sure if/when it will be launching. As of this date, it has not.

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