Turkish Coffee Vs Espresso: What’s The Very Fine Difference?

By Shabbir
Last update:

Turkish coffee and espresso are arguably one of the oldest styles of preparing coffee. Though they both hail from in and around Europe, there’s quite a fine difference between the two and Turkish coffee and espresso are both worth trying. So let’s dig deeper into Turkish coffee vs espresso.

The difference between Turkish coffee and espresso

Turkish coffee and espresso are both quite strong drinks, but they get their strength from different factors. Turkish coffee has a bold coffee flavor thanks to the fine grounds boiling over in water, but it has an added kick from the sugar and various spices added in to the drink.

Espresso on the other hand also has a bold coffee flavor but this flavor comes from the high-pressure brew. The flavor of espresso is more pure coffee.

Additionally, you can make Turkish coffee without any specialty equipment, but you’d be hard-pressed to make an authentic espresso without some kind of equipment.

How Turkish Coffee is made

Turkish coffee is made in a very traditional manner using a small stovetop pot called a cezve.

This is typically a small pot with a long handle that you heat on the stove itself. To make Turkish coffee, you add coffee grounds(traditionally Yemeni Mocha coffee) to water and stir it in the pot, and allow the water to come to a boil.

The pot is traditionally made from copper, but modern ones are made of ceramic or stainless steel and they work well too.

If you want, you can also add sugar beforehand, since Turkish coffee is very strong and intense. That’s why people like to take a bite of Turkish Delight or a date and then take a sip of coffee.

Once the mixture boils and starts to froth, you remove it from the heat and pour it into cups. You can make 2-3 cups from a single cezve, and immediately put some more coffee to brew.

Turkish coffee is very easy to make for multiple people as you can brew a lot in a very short time.

There are a few different types of Turkish coffee:

  • Sade: sugar-less
  • Az sekerli: with a little bit of sugar
  • Orta sekerli: a bit more sugar
  • Cok sekerli: with lots of sugar!

How Espresso is made

Espresso, on the other hand, is made by forcing pressurized steam through coffee grounds. Unlike Turkish coffee, you will need a specialized tool to make espresso. Modern espresso machines are quite complex, but you can also use something simple like a moka pot or an Aeropress to simulate similar pressure.

It won’t be nearly as much as an actual espresso machine, but it will definitely be stronger than a regular drip machine.

Once you have an espresso shot ready you can either drink it straight up, or add foamed milk in different volumes to make lattes, macchiatos, or cappuccinos.

Espresso machines typically brew just one shot at a time, so it is more time consuming than Turkish coffee, though the volume produced is quite similar for a single shot, about 1 to 2 ounces.

Turkish Coffee Vs Espresso: Caffeine

Since we’re talking about almost the same volume of coffee in Turkish Coffee and espresso, the amount of caffeine is quite similar and will only vary mainly due to the kind of roast that you use.

A darker roast, typically used in espressos, has lost a lot of the caffeine through roasting. The smaller serving size also means espresso generally has less caffeine than other beverages such as drip coffee or french press coffee.

Turkish coffee uses a lighter roast and since the water is in contact with the coffee for longer, more caffeine is extracted. However, you also have to factor in volume: both Turkish coffee and espresso are typically served in 1.5 to 2 ounce servings, which means the overall caffeine you ingest will not be that much.

That’s why a full 6 oz cup of drip coffee ends up having more caffeine than a shot of espresso.

If you use the same grounds, the amount of caffeine will be quite similar, between 50-70 mg of caffeine per 1.5 fl oz shot.

It’s interesting to note that the caffeine amount is related to the volume of the drink. If you were to compare Turkish coffee and espresso to another drink with the same volume, you’d see that they both actually contain a lot more caffeine!

Turkish Coffee Vs Espresso: Grind

Turkish coffee is ground much, much finer than your typical pour over coffee, and even more so than espresso, which has a pretty fine grind itself.

Espresso is a very fine grind, and Turkish coffee is one level finer, like a soft powder, almost the consistency and feel of flour.

Most roasters give you the option of shipping beans to you ground into espresso consistency but I don’t think very many offer the service to grind to Turkish Coffee consistency.

On the flip side, you can get pre-packaged Turkish Coffee but you won’t have much control on how freshly ground it was.

Most regular grinders won’t be able to ground fine enough for Turkish Coffee so you’ll definitely need a proper burr grinder to get the grounds into the smooth powder required.

Even amongst burr grinders, not all can manage the superfine grind required, so make sure you pick up a machine that has a lot of grind settings on the fine side.

Turkish Coffee Vs Espresso: Taste

Finally, we come to taste! What does espresso taste like, and what does Turkish coffee taste like?

Turkish coffee has a very rich froth thanks to the boiling and it has an intense, rich, and dark flavor. Some recipes even call for adding an extra kick using spices like turmeric, cardamom, or cloves. Since it’s not filtered, you’ll get a whole bunch of textures throughout the cup. It will start frothy, then gradually get muddier and grittier – but not in a bad way.

One way to avoid getting a mouthful of mud is to let the coffee cool and rest for a couple of minutes. This does two things: one, the coffee cools a little so you don’t burn your tongue and you’re able to enjoy the flavors a bit more. Two, as the coffee rests, the grounds will settle to the bottom of the cup.

Since the grounds are so fine they’ll actually enhance the texture and experience of drinking Turkish coffee. It’s also meant to be sipped and consumed slowly and gradually. The bulk of the grounds will have settled, but you’ll still get a little bit of a soft powdery mouthfeel every now and then.

Espresso on the other hand is a shot. You typically drink espresso by letting it cool a little bit and then sipping it. Some people say you should drink an espresso in 3 sips, spaced apart so you get different flavors and textures in each sip. Others say do what makes you happy and drink it however you want!

Either way, espresso is a way of experiencing pure coffee. The natural flavors and aromas are really brought forth by the high pressure brew. Using freshly roasted beans, you’ll be able to taste and smell the notes the manufacturer talks about.

These can be floral, citrus, nuts, chocolate, and many more.

 Frequently asked questions

Can you make espresso with Turkish coffee?

Even though Turkish cofee grounds look very similar to espresso grounds, you just won’t get the same flavor if you try to brew them in an espresso machine.

What makes Turkish coffee different?

Turkish coffee is brewed in boiling water, and the grounds are not filtered out. Sugar is also added from the start of the brew.

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.