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Setting the context

May 26, 2010

This is my first blog post, and although I’m keen to jump in the deep end and start with a topic on my mind right now, such as the UK Cevze/Ibrik Championships, I’m going to start with setting the scene instead.

Hopefully this blog will get some feedback and attract people from different parts of the coffee community – so if there is going to be a discussion, I need to start by providing some context for that discussion and a bit of background. I’m splitting this into 3 parts – the blog, speciality coffee in the UK, and the cezve/ibrik brewing method.

The blog
There are lots of great online resources/blogs/articles/etc. about coffee, and I’ll put up a list of links to some of these in the future. But the Cezve/Ibrik method isn’t well represented, and generally when it is, it’s not with the focus on improving it that you see for the other brewing methods.

I’ve been interested in all types of coffee for a few years now and came third in this years UK Cevze/Ibrik Championships – more on that in another post. I don’t consider myself particularly knowledgable – so the aim of this blog is to ask questions and, sometimes, propose tentative theories. And I’m hoping it will also help me de-clutter my head 🙂

Speciality Coffee in the UK
I’ve always found the term “speciality coffee” an odd one. To me, the obvious sense of the term is the more unusual and esoteric drinks – the milk and espresso concoctions of the highstreet chains being an obvious example.

In fact, speciality coffee afficianados are more likely to want a “simple” coffee – an espresso, latte, filter, etc. – but held to higher standards of quality than the norm. It’s kind of like saying that people who prefer eating at a michelin starred restaurant are into speciality food… Kind of true, but misleading in it’s implication.

Anyway, speciality coffee in the UK seems to be a growing group of people and focuses on the quality, tracability and technique of getting from beans to the most enjoyable cup of coffee possible. This means knowing and understanding as much as possible about the whole chain – who grew the beans, what varietal they are, how they were processed, who roasted them and when, to what degree of roast, how they are ground and how they are brewed (to name but a few).

Ibrik/Cevze brewing
Basically, this brewing method consists of grinding coffee very finely, adding water and heating in a jug. It’s the most basic method of preparing roast beans into a coffee. And that is part of why everyone interested in coffee should know a bit about it – good fundamentals always helps your overall understanding. Another, and infinitely better, reason is that it makes a lovely and distinctive cup of coffee. It doesn’t taste like any of the other methods – possibly because of the temperature profile for the extraction (yet another future topic :-P) – so it allows you to explore another facet of a beans flavour.

Notice how I keep referring to it as Cevze/Ibrik brewing? The best known name in the U.K. Is probably “Turkish Coffee”. However, in Greece they call it “Greek Coffee”, in the Middle East “Arabic Coffee”, and on and on across the world. These traditional methods from different regions are not quite the same – but they’re all close enough that they should fit under one title. However, what title is acceptable to everyone? Cevze/Ibrik (two words from different languages that both refer to the brewing jug used) is the one favoured by the Speciality Coffee Associations – but even that is culturally loaded to some extent. I’ve not got any suggestions that wouldn’t cause as many problems as they fix, but if you can find a phrase to cover this brewing method in a way which is both inclusive and clear to everyone – please let me know your ideas.

That pretty much covers what I wanted to start with, I hope. I’ll aim to follow up with something more focused fairly soon (time allowing), but please please provide feedback and comments on this post. And if you’ve got this far – thanks for reading!

  1. Paul S permalink

    Good to see another coffee blog.
    I am particularly interested in ‘Turkish Coffee’ and have recently bought my first Ibrik. Would be interested in any tips on improving my brewing method.

    • I’ll definitely sort out a post on Ibrik methods. I’ll try and be fairly comprehensive too – rather than just covering my own method. In the mean time, my top tip is – the more gently you heat it, the better. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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