Serious Eats: Drinks

How to Brew Coffee in an Ibrik: A Modern Take

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[Zoltán Kis competing in the 2012 World Ibrik/Cezve Championship]

Last week we covered a traditional method of brewing Turkish coffee in an ibrik, a small pot designed for stovetop preparation of coffee. Though the techniques used to make the classically sludgy, intense coffee are hundreds of years old, it's no surprise that modern coffee lovers couldn't leave well enough alone. To this end, the World Ibrik/Cezve Championship was born, a battle of skills and innovation using these small metal pots, with results that traditionalists are likely to scoff at.

Seeing as the brewer is used differently throughout the (primarily Eastern European) countries in which it is popular, we saw no reason to discount even more adventurous twists on the ibrik. We spoke to the reigning World Ibrik Champion, Zoltán Kis of Hungary—and seeing as future World Ibrik Championships are currently on hold, he may reign for considerable time—about his prize-winning method, and philosophy.

Full disclosure: title-holder Kis entered the 2012 Ibrik championship somewhat by accident. His brother registered him for a coffee competition, but didn't specify which one. It was soon upon Kis to learn, as well as refine, a technique which could elevate both the coffee and the historic brewer to new levels. To get there, it was necessary to focus on what's special and different about brewing in an ibrik.

And what is special, then, if you're not using the shape of the pot to specifically prepare foam-topped, delightfully murky Turkish-style coffee? Temperature, mostly: as in all brewing methods, attenuation of temperature is a key variable to development of flavor. Kis' method involves a slow heating of the water from a cold start (as in traditional ibrik brewing) with the coffee already in it, as opposed to traditional modes which dump hot water right on top of the grounds. "It gives you a more complex coffee with more body than the Aeropress or traditional pourover methods," said the champ.

Furthermore, it extracts a more pleasing amount of coffee than the old-fashioned way, says Kis, who found traditional methods hugely overextract the coffee—obscuring the coffee's true flavors. He began to develop a method that worked better for modern specialty coffee tastes, using a high dose of coffee that produces a heavy cup, which he filters for a clean, sweet flavor.

Here's how he does it:

You'll need: an ibrik or cezve (as last week, we recommend the selection at Sweet Maria's has a good, affordable selection), coffee, good quality water (Kis stresses that harder water will have a tremendously negative effect on brewing), and a heat source. You will also need an Aeropress!

Step 1. Grind your coffee
As this coffee uses an Aeropress to filter, you don't have to grind it Turkish-fine. Grind out 5 grams of coffee per 45 grams of water you'll be using in the ibrik, somewhere between espresso and filter drip.

Step 2. Add your coffee and water to the ibrik
As with traditional preparation, you'll add water to coffee at the outset of brewing. Kis recommends starting with a lukewarm water, about 150 to 160 F. Combine these in your ibrik and stir.

Step 3. Slowly heat the coffee
Pay close attention as you bring this coffee up gradually and slowly to just below a boil—about 195 degrees Fahrenheit. This should take a little over a minute.

Step 4. Take it off the heat!
You're done here. No more putting it back on and off the burner. Get your Aeropress ready!

Step 5. Filter through an Aeropress
Using a paper filter already fitted into the Aeropress, pour the coffee off from the ibrik into the press, and plunge down on the Aeropress.

Enjoy the resulting cup, a delicately extracted, sweetness-forward, round-bodied cup with historic flair and champion pedigree.


About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently compiling photographs of the best coffee in the world to be published by Presspop in 2013.

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