American vs Turkish Coffee: Why Is Turkish Coffee So Strong?

Turkish coffee has a reputation for being one of the most exceptional and intense brewing methods. But why is Turkish coffee so strong? When comparing American vs. Turkish coffee, the strength of the Turkish method comes from the fine grind size, full immersion brewing, and unfiltered serving style.

However, there are other factors that make it such a coveted brewing method.

A picture of a cezve, Turkish delight, and Turkish coffee introducing an article about how strong Turkish Coffee is

Luckily, since my wife is Turkish and I have been to Turkey many times, I have tons of personal experience with brewing and drinking Turkish coffee. So in this article, I explore how Turkish coffee gets such a rich flavor and thick texture, along with why it has such a strong cultural significance.

Lastly, I’ll clear up common misunderstandings about the caffeine levels between Turkish coffee and American coffee—you may be surprised to learn that Turkish coffee has less than you think!

Let’s dive in!

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American vs Turkish Coffee: Basic Difference

Is Turkish coffee truly a strong brewing method or is it just a myth? Before I can answer, let’s first get familiar with the primary difference between Turkish coffee vs American coffee.

If you’re familiar with the Americano, which dilutes the intensity of espresso, then you already have a basic idea of how Turkish coffee is different than American coffee. While American coffee tends to be less concentrated, uses a medium grind size, and uses a filter, Turkish coffee is concentrated, unfiltered, and uses a fine grind.

The brewing method of boiling in a cezve also extracts a much more intense and rich coffee flavor.

Why Is Turkish Coffee so Thick?

The thickness of Turkish coffee comes from it being an unfiltered brewing method. As the tiny coffee grounds remain in the cup, they add body and texture, resulting in a brew that’s notably thicker than what you might encounter with filtered coffee.

BCS 12 Oz Copper Turkish Coffee Pot


  • Copper Turkish coffee pot (made in Turkey) and wooden spoon
  • 2mm thickness (built for maximum durability)
  • Wooden handle for comfortable use
  • Engraved traditional floral pattern
  • 12 fl oz capacity

Additionally, the fine grind plus the repeated boiling of the brewing method creates a thick foam not just on top but also integrated throughout the beverage. If you’re struggling to achieve this texture, I wrote a troubleshooting article dedicated to making Turkish coffee foam better.

Turkish Coffee vs Regular Coffee: Cultural Practices Explained

A picture of Turkish sand coffee that helps answer the question, why is Turkish coffee so thick?

I’ve visited Turkey many times, and one of my favorite aspects of Turkish coffee is the cultural practices surrounding it. Turkish coffee culture is grounded in showing hospitality and enjoying the rich conversations that coffee can spark.

This rich coffee culture is unsurprising, considering the world’s first coffee house was in Turkey! The Turks even developed their word for breakfast as a derivative of coffee–“kahvaltı,” which means “breakfast” in Turkish, literally means “under coffee.” This meaning comes from the cultural practice of eating breakfast first, followed by moving to a more comfortable room to enjoy coffee.

While Turks call their Turkish coffee makers a “cezve,” other Middle Eastern cultures with similar brewing methods call them an “ibrik.”

So Is Turkish Coffee Strong, Or Is It a Myth?

Is the reputation Turkish coffee has with being strong true or just a myth? With coffee, strength is a term that can encompass various aspects, from flavor intensity to caffeine content. And yes, Turkish coffee is strong, a reputation it has garnered primarily from its high concentration.

But while the concentration is a huge factor, the unique brewing method and the unfiltered serving style also contribute to its reputation for strength.

How Strong Is Turkish Coffee?

For concentration strength, the ratio of coffee to water for Turkish coffee is 1:6. This is almost three times as strong as a typical recipe for American drip coffee, which is usually 1:16.

Luckily, because the serving size of Turkish coffee is small (about 3 ounces,) this strength is not overwhelming. The caffeine levels may be higher per volume, but the small serving cup means you aren’t consuming more caffeine than American coffee.

Why Is Turkish Coffee So Strong?

Why is Turkish coffee so strong? A graphic explaining the reasons.

So what is the reason behind Turkish coffee’s strength? Ultimately, it comes down to the following unique elements of the Turkish coffee brewing process:

1. Fine Grounds: Turkish coffee starts with coffee beans ground into a fine powder, finer than what you’d typically use for espresso.

2. Boiling Water: The finely ground coffee mixes with cold water, and the mixture gently simmers in a specialized pot called a cezve or ibrik. This slow, controlled heating allows for the gradual release of flavors.

3. Repeated Heating: The process involves several cycles of heating and reheating. The coffee is brought to the brink of boiling multiple times, allowing it to undergo a thorough extraction. This prolonged exposure to heat intensifies the flavors.

4. Unfiltered Serving: Turkish coffee is served unfiltered. The coffee grounds remain in the cup, adding body, texture, and a characteristic sludge at the bottom.

Compared to standard drip/filter coffee, the tighter ratio of Turkish brewing also contributes to its perceived strength. This ratio, plus the full immersion method of extraction and the high brewing temperatures, creates rich and intense flavors, including a thick texture/mouthfeel.

Comparing Turkish Coffee and Espresso

Turkish coffee vs American coffee: A graphic explaining the differences between Turkish coffee and espresso.

Since the serving sizes are similar, it is easy to assume Turkish coffee and espresso are the same.

But as I discuss in this article on espresso vs. Turkish coffee, there are crucial differences. Is Turkish coffee better than espresso? That answer comes down to preference, and you should read the article for more details.

However, I can say that with most recipes, espresso is stronger than Turkish coffee in terms of concentration and caffeine levels.

Is Turkish Coffee Also Strong in Terms of Caffeine?

Since Turkish coffee has a reputation for being so strong, people often assume it is a caffeine powerhouse. However, the truth is that a standard serving of Turkish coffee will most often have less caffeine than a typical serving of American coffee.

But let’s break down the numbers to clear up this common misconception.

Caffeine Comparison

The comparison of caffeine in Turkish coffee and American coffee will probably surprise you. A typical Turkish coffee serving—served in a 3-ounce Turkish coffee cup—contains roughly 40-60 milligrams of caffeine. By comparison, a standard 8-ounce cup of drip coffee contains approximately 95 milligrams of caffeine.

So by volume, Turkish coffee has a much higher caffeine content. However, the crucial difference lies in the serving size. And, just like you compare different amounts of drip coffee to espresso because of its concentration, you need to do the same with caffeine levels.

Turkish Coffee Cup Set


  • 2 cups & 2 plates
  • Iznik porcelain used by the former Ottoman emperors
  • Classic Ottoman floral pattern
  • Perfect for Turkish, Greek, or espresso coffee.

So, while Turkish coffee may have a higher caffeine concentration, the caffeine intake from a single serving of Turkish coffee is often comparable to or even less than what you’d get from an average cup of American drip coffee.

Turkish Coffee vs American Coffee: Detailed Differences Explained

Now that you understand the basic differences between Turkish and American coffee, let’s examine each factor more closely.


The concentration of a coffee recipe is the ratio of coffee to water. Generally, using more coffee will create a “stronger” brew. However, concentration is not the only factor that characterizes coffee strength, which is ultimately a subjective measurement.

Some might argue that espresso’s concentration makes it stronger than Turkish coffee. It has a bolder ratio and more caffeine. Others may emphasize Turkish coffee’s finer grind and boiling process, which can impart a bolder taste, even if the concentration isn’t as high as espresso.

And, like any coffee method, the concentration is flexible based on personal recipes. Individuals may adjust the coffee-to-water ratio to create a milder or bolder brew. So, for experienced espresso drinkers, Turkish coffee likely won’t taste too concentrated. However, its intense extraction process can still give it a uniquely “stronger” flavor.

American vs Turkish Coffee Grind

Another gigantic difference in flavor comes from the extremely small grind size you use for making Turkish coffee. This fine powder is even smaller than you use for espresso brewing. Besides more extraction per unit of brew time, it also extracts a different flavor profile.

So, even if you used the same bean/roast to brew drip coffee and Turkish coffee, you will likely taste completely different flavors. Plus, most people would describe the Turkish coffee flavor as more intense.

American vs Turkish Coffee Grind Size

Filtered vs Unfiltered: Why Is Turkish Coffee so Thick?

There are many types of coffee immersion brewing, which involve coffee grounds fully immersing in water. However, most immersion methods, like the French press, filter out most coffee grounds before serving.

But Turkish coffee is unfiltered since you pour the entire mixture of fine grinds and water into the cup. Even though you do not drink most of these grounds—they settle to the bottom of the cup—they still create a thick texture and foam. This thickness is a contributor to the overall perception of Turkish coffee strength.

While you can technically filter Turkish coffee, read more about why you shouldn’t.

Side note: Another fun aspect of its unfiltered serving is the Turkish tradition of reading fortunes from the patterns of the leftover coffee grounds.

Boiling and Immersion

Most coffee brewing methods use hot water just below the boiling point. But Turkish coffee is unique in that you continually cook it on the stovetop throughout the brewing process. Brewing in the specialized Turkish pot, called a cezve, allows you to slowly bring the mixture to a simmer with even heat and maintain that heat over several minutes.

Over several cycles of heating and reheating, the flavors slowly extract, and the find grinds create a thick texture and layer of foam. Maintaining a consistently high brewing temperature is another primary factor in Turkish coffee’s strength.

See Also: Can You Filter Turkish Coffee? Yes, But Why You Shouldn’t

Frequently Asked Questions

As a review and summary, let’s give a few short answers to common questions people have about American and Turkish coffee.

Is Turkish coffee the strongest?

Turkish coffee is indeed strong in terms of flavor intensity and concentration. While it has a high coffee-to-water ratio and an intense flavor profile, the concept of strength can vary depending on individual preferences. Some may consider espresso, as a compact, concentrated shot, to be stronger, even though the ratio is different.

Why is Turkish coffee so thick?

Turkish coffee’s thickness is a result of its unfiltered brewing method and the use of finely ground coffee. The absence of filtration allows the coffee grounds to remain in the cup, creating a velvety and thick texture, a defining characteristic of Turkish coffee.

Which has more caffeine American coffee or Turkish coffee?

Despite many inaccurate claims that Turkish coffee has more caffeine than American coffee, per its serving size, Turkish coffee has less caffeine. While Turkish coffee’s caffeine levels are more concentrated—40-60 milligrams per 3-ounce serving—the standard American coffee size is 8 ounces and contains 80-100 milligrams of caffeine.

What is special about Turkish coffee?

What makes Turkish coffee special is its unique brewing process, centuries-old tradition, and rich cultural significance. It involves finely ground coffee beans, slow simmering, and unfiltered serving, resulting in a brew that’s both intense and deeply flavorful. Turkish coffee isn’t just a beverage; it’s a cultural experience that involves rituals that connect to the long history of coffee.

Final Thoughts

So, is Turkish coffee actually stronger than a typical American coffee? It turns out the answer is yes and no, mostly because the concept of coffee strength is more complicated than it seems. Turkish coffee does extract a uniquely strong flavor due to the fine grind and full immersion/boiling. So, if that’s how you define strength, then it is stronger.

However, if strength to you is about caffeine, then one serving of Turkish coffee has less than a typical serving of American drip coffee. Either way, I hope you have a better understanding and appreciation for the unique intensity and flavor of Turkish coffee.

I personally love it not just for its flavor but also for its rich tradition, culture, and connection to coffee’s long history!

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