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What was in my Turkish Coffee?

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I've developed quite a taste for Turkish Coffee lately. Frequenting Manhattan finer (and lesser) Falafel joints have left me with plenty of opprotunities to taste the city's Turkish Coffee. Sometimes it tastes like a wet paper bag and sometimes it's a dream come true. My wife and I stopped into Hummus Place down in St. Mark's last night and while the Turkish Coffee was pretty great, there was a taste in it I couldn't place. The menu didn't seem to indicate any additives (Although their take-home stuff noted the addition of cardamom), but there was certainly a spice involved. The waitress told us it was "Hayl" (She pronounced it "Hell"), which a little bit of research tells me is likely Cardamom. But it just didn't taste like cardamom.

Is there a way of preparing cardamom for use in Turkish Coffee that makes it taste, well, less like Cardamom? The taste was almost lemon-y, light and clean. Have I just been frequenting terrible Turkish Coffee stands or was my brew hopped up on something new?

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  1. No "likely" about it. "Hayl" is Arabic for cardamom. What you describe as not tasting like cardamom sounds like cardamom to me. Maybe you need to find a new place to buy your cardamom. :)

    1. Hayl is cardamom.

      I am thinking they added fresh cardamom seeds split out from the pods into the coffee grounds-not cardamom powder as you may have used, smelled or tasted.

      Buy some cardamom in pods-green or white- and peel off the pods to get to the teensy black seeds inside. Those most likely were added whole to the coffee grounds.

      I extract the seeds that way then use a mortar and pestle to grind up seeds only for baking- the cardamom powder you buy is the whole- seeds and pod ground up. It is 'diluted' in a flavor sense.

      1. Thanks for the heads up! Having only tasted cardamom in other things and never having tasted the fresh seed, I suspect that may account for the taste. I'm eager to get rolling on my own Turkish Coffee brewing, so I'll take this into account.

        1 Reply
        1. re: GilloD


          When I said "fresh" seed pods- I meant that you take the black seeds out of the dried pod shells. I have had some in a jar on the shelf since last year and just crushed off the paper-ish pod and the little seeds inside are moist and still very pungent...so you don't have to look for 'fresh' cardamom. If you can find them in a bulk bin place then you don't have to buy too many, plus the turnover is likely to be faster.

          Just wanted to clarify.