Turkish Delight: Cardamom Coffee

When I visited Istanbul last year, one exotic taste that struck me was the Turkish coffee. The secret was the sweet and fragrant spice cardamom.

In Turkey, and in many Arabic countries, coffee is brewed with sugar and cardamom. It has a taste that’s slightly spicy, slightly sweet, and full of character. It helps that in Turkey, coffee and tea are often served with a dish of whole cloves after meals, to cleanse the mouth. This makes the coffee taste even more aromatic.

In Turkey and points east, coffee is actually brewed with sugar in it, and it’s up to you if you want to add more once it’s in your cup. Coffee is served and drunk black. Typically, there are grounds in the coffee, which end up at the bottom of the cup. The custom is to read the coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup to tell your future – fun!

This is a picture of street cats in Istanbul. This really doesn’t have anything to do with coffee, but Istanbul is nicknamed “The City of Cats” because of the great number of street cats there. Happily, the Turkish people love the cats and take good care of them. Even at our hotel, the back patio was given over to a family of kittens that were lovingly fed by the staff.

Back at home, I tried making cardamom coffee. Turns out, it’s very easy. I like to add milk and a little honey into my brewed cup of cardamom coffee, but you can drink it black and without any sweetener. You could also experiment with brewing the coffee with a hint of other sweet spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, or allspice, but I would suggest starting with a very small amount.

Cardamom Coffee

There are two easy methods for making the coffee.

Method 1, coffee maker: Add ½ teaspoon ground cardamom into the coffee filter, along with your ground coffee. Brew the coffee as you normally would. Adjust the amount of cardamom if you want a more or less potent flavor.

Method 2, French press: Place ground coffee in a French press. Add 2 crushed cardamom seeds, then pour in the boiling water and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain.

Louisa Shafia is a cook with a passion for healthy eating. She recently penned Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, a collection of seasonal recipes and eco-friendly advice on food. To watch her cooking videos, see her recipes, and find out about her cooking classes, go to

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