Autism Fundraiser Cafe Day

The crew

Thanks to Grendel for inviting me along to help out at a fundraiser he organised this weekend to raise money for the Autism Association Early Intervention Centre.

It was a great day, with lots of local coffee afficionados getting together to geek out and make coffee for a good cause.

Check out the man himself’s wrap up of the event, and check out a few photos I’ve pull together from it. All for a good cause of course :)

How to make Turkish Coffee


Well after a short lived foray into tea, it’s back to the tried and true original, coffee. Something a little different to my usual home barista shenanigans this time though. In the past, much of my efforts have been focused on preparing and perfecting espresso and milk based drinks. To the extent that I think I’ve been remiss in my attention to other forms of preparing coffee that are equally as rewarding. It’s easy to get excited about a perfect ristretto pour dripping like honey into your cup… but I’ve discovered recently that you can do just fine with nothing more sophisticated than a pot of hot water.

Enter Turkish coffee. Or Lebanese coffee, or Greek Coffee, or Arabic Coffee, or Armenian coffee… they’re all roughly similar, and I’m just using Turkish because it’s perhaps the best known. Long before Mr Gaggia pulled together the first modern espresso machine circa 1938, those crazy Ottomans (the people, not the foot rests), were hanging around the worlds first coffee shop in downtown Constantinople circa 1475… in fact Turkish law at that time made it legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he failed to provide her with her daily quota of coffee. Which is fair enough really.

So in a country (Australia) where some major cities have an espresso machine in every other laundromat, there’s a tendency to forget about the ways that millions of other people around the world appreciate coffee every day. Hence I present in it’s complex simplicity, my attempt at brewing Turkish coffee.

Let me just say right now that I am no expert at this. I’ve based my method on what I’ve gleaned from other websites, from talking to people, and from drinking variations of this in restaurants and cafes. I will not be offended if you completely disagree with me… much.

How I make mine

So to start with you need a couple of things. An Ibrik (or cezve), a grinder, and some coffee.

An ibrik (eee-brick) is a small pot, often made of copper or brass, that is used to boil coffee. The one I bought is a little fancier than the tradition sort, with a solid stainless steel base and a moulded handle… which hopefully doesn’t disqualify me in the authenticity stakes. You should be able to find them in middle eastern supply stores.

The grind is the next most important thing. Turkish coffee is the finest of all grind levels, and basically resembles dust. You can buy special Turkish coffee mills that will give you a really fine grind, or else you could try a mortar and pestle. I use my espresso grinder on it’s lowest possible setting… 4 stops below my normal espresso level, which gives me coffee so fine I can barely see it.

Turkish coffee is typically drunk out of small cups. Thimble sized ones sometimes. I use my Chinese tea cups, which seem to give a decent portion in each pour. To work out how much water you need in the ibrik, try using roughly one teaspoon of ground coffee per cupful of water. So to make 6 cups, measure 6 cups of water into the ibrik, and add 6 teaspoons of coffee.

Measure Grind Dose Shower Spice Stir HeatBoil

View the pictoral guide by click the images above, or by going to my flickr site for some more details

There’s an old saying that goes:

Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and as sweet as love.

If this isn’t talking about Turkish coffee then I don’t know what is. The fineness of the grind, when incorporated into water, creates a thick solution reminiscent of mud when you get down to the bottom. Sugar is also commonly added at the start of the brewing process, rather than at the end, which would account for the sweetness. I’d add about a third as many teaspoons of sugar as the number of cups… So 2 teaspoons of sugar for 6 cups…

If you want to be extra fancy/authentic (like I did), you can also add a pinch or two of ground cardamom at this stage. It gives the coffee a wonder flavour that is distinct yet not overpowering (given you don’t add too much), that seems to be popular.

Once you’ve combined all the ingredients and stirred well so that it’s all mostly dissolved, then it’s time for the cooking. Put the ibrik onto the heat (a gas burner in my case), and over a moderate flame, heat it til it starts to bubble up and boil. Once its beginning to boil, remove it from the heat before it can overflow the ibrik… It’s important to keep a close watch on the boiling because things can get out of control in a hurry.

Once the first boil settles down, put the ibrik back over a low heat and bring it back to the boil… again stopping before it overflows. Repeat this process a final time, and you’re done. It’s apparently quite important to try and retain as much of the thick foam as possible while boiling. I think I’m a long way off perfecting it, but the flavour in the cup at the end is definitely to my liking, so I think I’m on the right track.

So now pour the coffee out into small espresso / chinese tea sized cups and sip away at the thick sweet spiced flavours, and feel it warming you from the inside out. Traditionally it’s drunk with a cup of water and perhaps a little glass of mint liqueur at the end of a meal, which sounds like a good excuse for me to try and construct a Turkish dinner menu sometime soon.

Lebanese Cardamom CoffeeLebanese Cardamom Coffee

So next time you’re kicking yourself over bitter espresso and woeful attempts at latte art, just grab the nearest pot and give this method a shot. 71 millions Ottomans can’t all be wrong :)

Dragon Tea House

Lady Lan Green Tea

What do you do when you’ve had too much coffee ? Drink tea of course ! But what does a bona fide coffee snob do when he has to turn his palate to the other drink ? Well either seek out the finest possible Japanese green tea he can… or more recently… dive straight into the world of fantastic Chinese tea.

Dragon Tea House is a new venture that’s opened recently on William St in Northbridge (up the top end where the real stuff is). I was first put onto them by the ever vigilant Alex, who has an uncanny knack for finding quality places to explore.

So a couple of weeks ago, after a hearty dose of Dim Sum (funnily after drinking too much tea), Ben, Jen, Sharon, myself, and the sadly now departed (to Montreal via Melbourne) Isabelle, walked off a little of the post lunch bloat with a brisk stroll up to Dragon Tea House to check out their wares.

What we found there was a little treasure trove of exquisite Chinese teas of the highest quality, and an enthusiastic host in Jun, who walked us through some of her favourite drops.

Jun and partner Sandy run the business with Sandy hand picking the teas (not physically, but you get what I mean) from China and bringing it in twice a year from very high quality sources. They bring this back for local tea lovers who want to try the wonderful teas they’ve heard about, but can’t manage the commute to the highlands of Zhejiang every week (which is possibly quite a few of us).

There’s a range of green, white, black, and flower teas that are remarkably different and unique (well to my palate at least), each with their own interesting characteristics. Dragon Tea House is primarily a retail outlet for the teas, although they do let you sit down and order a pot of your very own, to sip in contemplative appreciation. Although if you’re lucky, and things are quiet, you might just be able to convince them to run through a tea tasting session.

Of course… I had to taste them all. So after convincing Jun that we weren’t the fly by night charlatan drink and runners we probably looked like, we were treated to a good two hours worth of tea, food, and information…

We started with Lady Lan, a smooth oolong tea with ginseng, added to remove the normally bitter aftertaste associated with oolong. We moved on through Dragon Well green tea, a slightly astringent green tea with a buttery smooth texture that’s prevalent in great green teas. Then on to White Silver Needle Tea, which is from the same species but white tea consists of young leaves (new-growth buds) still covered in a fine white hair, that has undergone no oxidation or fermentation (unlike black or oolong teas). It has a style very different to green tea in that the typical grassy flavours are replaced by a lighter, slightly sweet finish.

Jun showed us a little of her developing Kung Fu Tea skills (I know, I thought it sounded too cool to be true too, but it’s actually the proper name for the Chinese art of the tea ceremony). These included making sure the water is at the exact right temperature, priming the the leaves with a cleansing rinse before drinking, and making sure that the delicious last drops of each pour are distributed evenly into each cup. The best part being that it doesn’t matter if you spill some :)

Gently First pour

After that it was on to a blooming flower tea. These blooming teas are a relatively new concept (I think) and typically consist of tea leaves bound tightly together with the addition of herbs and flowers such as Osmanthus and Chrysanthemum. The beauty of these teas is that in the right vessel they slowly “bloom” in hot water. Opening to reveal an array of colours and flavours that intermingle to create a completely unique experience. The one we tried was called Lily Bloom, and it contained lily, osmanthus, and white silver needle tea.

We took a break somewhere at this point for refreshments, which took the form of little Chinese sweets, and some roasted pumpkin seeds. Just the thing to hit the spot after a solid hour and a half of tea tasting.

With our palates refreshed (and bladders emptied), it was then on to the final tea, which was a Pu-erh. Described by Jun as the ‘short black’ of the tea world. It was something I had to try for myself. Pu-erh differs from most other teas…whilst it may be confused as a black tea because of it’s dark colour, it’s actually caused by a secondary oxidization and fermentation process after it’s picked, which gives it a particularly strong and distinct flavour. Not quite what I’d call an alternative to my morning espresso… but definitely enough of a kick to make the tea doubters sit up and take notice.

So after depriving Jun of her lunch, and bombarding her with more questions and photos than I’m sure she wanted, we came away with a good bundle of teas, teapots, and associated paraphernalia. Enough to keep our nerves calmed and palates cleansed, at least until the next time we stop by, which I imagine won’t be too far away.

***edit with a few corrected details.

Dragon Tea House
3/369 William Street (next to William shopping centre)
Phone: (08) 9228 3305

In other news

Mostly Rosetta with Heart

  • My article about Honduran coffee grower/importer/roaster Gerardo Barrios has made it’s way into this months edition of Spice Magazine, a most excellent (in my totally non-biased opinion) local food, wine, produce, anything you can think of that related to tastiness magazine.
  • Epic Espresso has a new website, which I may or may not have had a hand in creating, and the quadruple ristretto flat whites are totally kicking it at the moment.
  • Slow Food Perth has a new website (which I also may have helped put together), with updated content, rss feeds, and a bunch of other whiz bang fanciness. Slow Food Perth are doing great things in the local community to help promote producers, suppliers, and creators of quality food, and also to help educate people on where exactly our food comes from, and some of the more pertinent social issues surrounding it. I’d encourage anyone who loves food to check out their own local group, if only to score great lunches :)

Banana Jam

I need to fire my food stylist
There are times when food blogging can be a difficult thing. You get to the end of the long day at work and come home, only to find that all you have in the fridge are a can of tuna, a carrot, some limp lettuce, and piece of blue cheese that isn’t supposed to be blue. Then you have to somehow magically conjure something out of them all that would make Gordon Ramsey stop swearing and act like a normal human being for at least the time it takes him to eat it.

This is not always easy…

Then of course there are times where being a food blogger is great. Like when you get to travel interstate and/or overseas and meet up with lovely people who appreciate the food that you do, and give you delicious little presents for you to take home. Sharon and I were lucky enough to have just that happen when we met up with Deborah in Sydney last month, and had a great time trying to smuggle her delicious banana jam back into the state.

So rather than risking quarantine laws again, or having to resort to some kind of undercover espionage to secretly ferry truckloads of the stuff in, I decided it was probably time to try the recipe myself.

So the orginal recipe is right here, but for the sake of easiness and to help my non-existent ad revenue, I will reprint the details here with a few of my modifications.

Jamaica (Australian) Banana Jam Recipe


  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about one medium lime)
  • 3 1/2 cups diced very ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

How I made mine

Squeeze the lime juice into a bowl and chop the bananas into it in little chunks. I didn’t really need to worry about my bananas darkening, because they were so ripe they had darkened already. To take into account for having overripe bananas, and hence sweeter bananas, I simply reduced the amount of sugar in the original recipe by about 3/4 of a cup.

So then measure the sugar and water into a pot, and stir to dissolve sugar as you bring syrup to a boil.

Once it’s just starting to boil, add banana mixture and boil over low heat for about 30 minutes or until thick. Keep stirring it all the time to stop it from sticking to the sides, and to kind of mash up the banana as you go. Along the way add the cinnamon to the mixture, adding less or more depending on how much you want this flavour coming through. The mixture will slowly start to cook down over time, and will eventually turn into a thick gooey kind of paste, which will get even gooier after it cools down.

The jam is done when a spoon scraped across bottom of pan leaves a track that closes slowly.

Once you’re done, spoon the jam into hot sterilized jars and seal. I used the thinking man’s approach and reused the jar Deb gave me in the first place, which seemed to work quite nicely. I had one whole jar full, and a another half a jar or so left over. Don’t ask my what it is in metric quantities because I have no idea, but suffice to say you could easily double the whole recipe and make a whole bunch of this if you were so inclined. Once your friends and family get a taste you will have no problems getting rid of it.

Another couple of tips are not to try and lick the spoon while you’re making this, or you will more than likely burn your tongue, just like I did. And it will not be a comical Tom and Jerry like episode where you run around with steam pouring out of your mouth looking for a bucket of water to douse your head in… It will hurt.

Well that’s about all really. It was quite a lovely recipe to make, and I’ve enjoyed it very much over toast, crumpets, english muffins, and a variety of other toast like foods. I also think it would be fantastic on a batch of fresh scones with butter and cream… So maybe I should find a good recipe for them too… Deb ? :)

Banana Jam