What’s a Cezve / Ibrik? You mean just like, “Turkish coffee” right? There is a competition for that?

One of the more fascinating individual competitions in the World Coffee Events portfolio is the Cezve / Ibrik Championship. We do, in fact, mean “Turkish coffee” when we’re talking about the Cezve / Ibrik, although this term is much more common in North America, and refers to the historic popularity of this method of coffee in 17th century Istanbul. Folks in the Balkans or the Arab world are unlikely to call Cezve / Ibrik “Turkish coffee” – Wikipedia has a lot more about this etymology for you to read.

But yes, there is a competition for Cezve / Ibrik coffee preparation. Here’s more information from the official Ibrik Championship homepage:

“A cezve (also known as ibrik) is a pot designed specifically to make a particular style of coffee that is vastly consumed in parts of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The body can be made of metal, brass, copper, or ceramic but it features a distinctive long handle, and a brim that is designed to serve the coffee.”

This event comes with its own carefully thought out rules & regulations, timing standards, head judge calibration, and technical / sensory scoresheets. While the field of competitors is heavy on the Eastern European countries, global immigration patterns and cultural interest means last year’s top four came from countries as diverse as Greece, the United Kingdom, Colombia, and Hungary (home to last year’s World Champ, the fantastically named Zoltan Kis).


If you didn’t grow up around Turkish coffee, this competition might seem to personify the vast cultural diversity in tradition and national identities brought together by global coffee culture and agencies like World Coffee Events. But if you were raised in tune with the rituals of the Ibrik – or you’ve fallen in love with this method as an adult – then holding a carefully adjudicated, international “Turkish coffee” exhibition is something of a no-brainer. This style of preparing coffee can be highly demanding, and requires a skillful set of hands, plus well-thought out scripts and a cool demeanor on stage with the clock running. It’s not all that dissimilar to the Barista Competitions or Brewers Cups, except in the Cezve / Ibrik Championship they wear much cooler hats.

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Enter Turgay Yildizli

We’ve been enormously guilty of under-reporting on the Cezve-Ibrik Championship, and this year it’ll be even tougher to find stories from this corner of the coffee world. The 2013 CIC will not be held as part of the SCAE / WCE show in Nice, or at the WBC in Melbourne, but as its own stand-alone international event put on in concert with the SCAE chapter of Turkey. Dates and times for the event have not yet been announced, but we do know it’ll be held in Istanbul this coming September. National competitions are currently underway, and there is a really cool story about one that trickled into Sprudge HQ right around the SCAA Event a few weeks ago. One of those cross-cultural kinds of narratives that make for a good, long Friday read.

Turgay Yildizli is an enormously accomplished professional barista, representing the nation of Turkey. As a national champion, Mr. Yildizli competed in the World Brewers Cup Championship events in Maastricht (2011) and Vienna (2012). He’s also a three-time Ibrik champion for Turkey – including this year’s national event, in which he competed using Ceremony Coffee’s Sulawesi Pedamaran. So that’s pretty remarkable, right? The Turkish “Turkish coffee” champ, if you’re keeping track, competed and won his home country’s Cezve / Ibrik competition using coffee roasted in Anapolis, Maryland. How does this happen?

One of the truly joyful, remarkable things about winning a national championship, and going on to compete in an international event, is the enormous potential for cross-cultural pollination and information sharing among like-minded professionals from all around the world. Brewing alongside Turgay at the events in Maastricht and Vienna was one Andy Sprenger, two-time US Brewers Cup champ, and formerly of Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Anapolis, Maryland (Mr. Sprenger has now departed to open his own roastery and retail operation in Denver). The two guys started talking, and based on our interviews with both, here’s how it played out:

Turgay Yildizli –

This year I wanted to use a single origin coffee because in the previous years competitions I had used blends but found it difficult to maintain the consistency when dealing with the small quantities needed. When I tried ‘Sulawesi Pedamaran’ from Ceremony Coffee Roasters as Turkish coffee, I looked my wife Amy and said “Eureka.”

This is a great coffee for cezve/ibrik because unlike most Indonesian coffees it is a clean, herbal, sweet and citrusy. You can get bergamot, sage and almond paste aromatics and brown sugar sweetness, As it cools down you can get fruity notes like grapefruit. This coffee has a full body and buttery mouth feel but still has a clean finish.

Andy Sprenger – How did we get coffee to him? Well, Turgay Facebooked me to ask what I recommended for him to use and by the time I got back to him he had already ordered and planned to use our Sulawesi Pedamaran. You will have to ask him why he felt this coffee would do well in an Ibrik competition. What I can say about it is that it is a very clean Sulawesi, with big body, soft floral notes, loads of sugar that parallel a buttery savory quality. We roast this coffee slightly darker than some of our other varietals, but still, only slightly beyond first crack. We are squirreling some away for Turgay to use in the World Competition.

Ok, But What’s The Routine Like?

We have two cool answers to that question, both from Turgay. First, check out this “Turkish Coffee Instructional Video” he sent along to us:

Next, direct from our interview with Turgay, here’s a breakdown of his winning Turkish “Turkish coffee” routine:

“According to Cezve/Ibrik Competition rules, competitors should prepare two simple cezve/ibrik (Turkish) coffees, plus two hot and two cold signature beverages (with a base of ibrik coffee). These drinks are presented to two sensory judges over the course of 12 minutes.

For my simple coffee and hot beverage I used 10.0 coffee brew ratio, which was 7gr coffee and 70gr water for a single cup. For my cold signature beverage, coffee brew ratio was 8.5 because I didn’t want to lose the impact of my coffee – in my routine, I filtered the ibrik coffee via Aeropress, then added homemade coffee bitters and little bit sparkling mineral water.

There are different approaches for cezve/ibrik brewing methods. In my methods, I generally use 7 grams of finely ground “powder” coffee, preferably in like a “medium roast” profile, into the cezve/ibrik before adding 70 grams of room temperature good quality water. I stir it 8-10 times with a tea spoon and put the cezve/ibrik over the heat source. It depends on your heat source and the material of the cezve/ibrik but I prefer the total brew time between 2 and 3 minutes. I turn off the heat around 203F degrees. If you use fresh coffee and a proper ibrik this is a good enough temperature to get good crema.”

Mea Culpa

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading about Turgay Yildizli and the Cezve / Ibrik Championship. This is by far the most coverage we’ve ever given to this particular event, a fact for which we’re genuinely sorry – the imagery, the careful consideration, and the professionalism at play in these Cezve / Ibrik events is 100% worthy of more attention on our end. Both Turgay and Andy seemed kind of surprised (happily surprised, but surprised nonetheless) that we wanted to delve deeper into covering the CIC, but this is genuinely fascinating stuff. This style of coffee is fairly disconnected from the coffee traditions we ourselves grew up with, and yet is every bit a part of the wider global movement towards cultivating coffee’s seemingly endless capacity for deliciousness. Sometimes you can get cross-culturally pollinated as a journalist, too.  We’re planning on running more Cezve / Ibrik Championship coverage on Sprudge in the coming months, leading towards the 2013 World Cezve / Ibrik Championship event in Istanbul this September. Stay tuned.

Multimedia in this feature courtesy of Turgay Yildizli.

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