Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Full of Magic Brew

In a recent conversation I was asked about how people prepare coffee in my region. After quite a long answer, I decided to write a few lines on the blog about this. I am specifying "a few lines" because there were written thousands of pages on the subject, and there are so many ways and techniques to prepare coffee that a simple blog post will not be able to comprise all of them. The title of this post was proposed by my conversation partner from NYC.
I've started to drink coffee many years ago, and I was aware about the coffee drinking habit since I was a child. My grandparents (may them rest in peace!) slowly drank their coffee, and they seems to really enjoy drinking it. It was some sort of pleasure for them. And they were talking about "big men" issues (at least I thought so at my little age).

At that young age, my grandfather used to take me to buy coffee beans from a coffee shop downtown, placed at the corner of Dimitrie Cantemir and Traian streets. We were going there by car; he owned a Dacia 1100 (Renault 8). I remember that over the entrance, the shop had some sort of minaret tower decorated atop with the crescent moon and the star (as Turkish symbols). Nowadays there's only an orange cover and a banner holding a shop name. And the building facade looks awful.
The former coffee shop was located at the ground floor of this building, with the entrance on the corner.
On the counter were two similar metallic towers decorations, and behind them were the coffee grinders. Every time my grandfather used to buy only 100 grams of coffee beans at the price of 11 lei (Romanian currency). He explained to me that if he would buy more, the coffee would lose its aroma, not necessarily the taste, but its aroma, its flavor! After weighing the coffee beans, the seller grind it, and packed it in a light brown paper bag.
Back home with the small coffee bag! He took a kettle sized according to the number of cups of coffee to prepare. For every cup, he pour a cup of water (approx. 100 ml) in the kettle. Then he filled a teaspoon with ground coffee and pour it in the water (one teaspoonful for each cup of water). He put then the kettle on the stove and turned on the gas on the lowest position of the flame. The fire slowly heated the water so it could absorb the entire strength and aroma from those tiny coffee particles. When the water boiled for the first time, and the level of the boiling liquid started to raise into the kettle, he removed it from the fire, leave it for a couple of seconds to calm down. In each cup of coffee, he put a teaspoonful of the cream (caimac in Romanian) formed on top of the magic liquid. Then he put it back over the burning flames. After the second raise of the brewed coffee, he turned off the gas. A few drops of cold water were poured over the hot liquid inside the kettle in order to clear the brewed coffee of the particles remained in suspension. The coffee is now ready to be poured in the coffee cups. After this final operation, sugar is added to taste. A cigarette seemed to be a must among the adults while they are enjoying the steaming coffee.
As a parenthesis, I would like to insert some info about the coffee grinders.

Sometimes the coffee beans were grind at home using, of course, a coffee grinder. There are manual grinders and electrical grinders. In my collection I have one French and two Turkish genuine coffee grinders. I couldn't help myself to buy a couple of years ago, a brand new one with almost the very same design of the French one.
The French coffee grinder was made by Goldenberg & Cie, a tool manufacturing company. This company was started by Gustave Goldenberg, who built his first factory at Dorlisheim back in 1835, then another one in Zornhof près (near) Saverne in 1837, both in Alsace, France. After a few changes during the years, the company was purchased in 1986 by the British arm of Stanley.
Considering the information provided by a Fine Woodworking forum member, Charles R. Smith MD (crsmith), in one of his comprehensive history of Goldenberg et Cie, I believe that this coffee grinder was manufactured prior to 1870.
The Turkish ones have a similar design and decorations. In addition, one of them has inscribed the year 1924.
Many years after, I saw an interview with the Turkish owner of Ada Kaleh cafe in my town. A few detail have drawn my attention, and I want to share them here in order to complete the above description.

The Kettle must be made of copper. And the shape of its bottom must be conically shaped.
The stove is the closest replacement for a tray with hot sand. The kettle should be placed in hot sand in order to obtained the best brew! The flame should burn at its lowest intensity. It will be a long process, but you will get the best taste! A tray of sand would bring the process closer to the original, even when using a stove!
Don't put the coffee in water after the water is boiled! Put it right after the water was poured in the kettle! You don't want a tea infusion using coffee instead of tea: you want coffee!
Don't let the water boil more than two times!
If the coffee is too strong, next time you can either reduce the amount of coffee, or increase the quantity of water!

All the above information were confirmed by a very small tab on the back of a 100 grams coffee pack, containing a brief translation of the best way to prepare Turkish coffee.

Since I am drinking coffee, this is the way I am preparing it at home!
For now this is just the text. As soon as I'll be in the proper mood to take some appropriate photos of this process, I'll insert them within the text! (Edit: some of them are already added! Stay close for more!)

Prepare your coffee with this method, and let me know if you like it!
Don't worry it won't take as much as it took me to describe it here!

To enjoy it even more, turn on your favorite music! You might want to listen to it using an assorted pair of custom "coffee speakers"!

No comments:

Post a Comment