Mirra Coffee: What Is it, and How Do You Make It
Our coffee mugs are often huge, with proportions of 500 ml or more. But sometimes, as in a well-pulled shot of espresso, less is more.
Stemming from the Arabic word for bitter, mirra coffee is a strong 60 ml brew made with dark roast Arabica coffee beans and cardamom. Keep reading to learn more about what it is and how to make it.
What Is Mirra coffee?
Mirra coffee is a style of coffee popular in southeastern Turkey, as well as Syria and Lebanon. It is served in small cups, much like traditional Italian espresso. It is more bitter than espresso; the name mirra is derived from the Arabic word mur, meaning bitter.
The beans for mirra coffee are double-roasted specifically to bring out more bitterness in the cup.
Mirra coffee uses a slightly coarser grind than you would when making Greek-style coffee or traditional Turkish coffee, resulting in a somewhat grittier mouthfeel.
According to the Middle East experts at Travel Atelier, mirra coffee is a specialty of the Turkish city of Urfa, where it plays an important cultural role. Its preparation is left to coffee masters, who pass their trade from father to son (1).
It is an important part of daily life, and at every step, you come across street vendors carrying samovars of coffee.
It may be hard to find mirra coffee masters outside of Turkey, but you can make mirra coffee yourself.
How Is Mirra Coffee Made?
Mirra coffee is made in a traditional cezve or ibrik—a small, narrow pot with a long handle. It’s the same brewer used to make Turkish coffee at home. However, the brewing method is slightly different than traditional Turkish coffee. When making mirra coffee, the coffee is brought to a full boil. Often, a little sugar and cardamom are added to the water before coffee grounds are introduced.
Mirra coffee is boiled because it uses coarser coffee grounds, so more heat is needed to extract the flavour. Since Turkish coffee grounds are very finely-ground, boiling would extract too many bitter compounds, making the cup unpalatable.
For a great visual demonstration of how it’s done, check out this video by Feast in the Middle East.
How do you make mirra coffee, and what do you need? Let’s take a look.
What You Need
- 2 tablespoons finely-ground Italian roast arabica coffee beans
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons of sugar, or to taste
- ¼ cup room temperature water
- Fine mesh sieve
- Demitasse cup
At a Glance
How to Make Mirra Coffee in 2 Steps
If you already have the ingredients above, you can make mirra coffee in just two steps!
1. Brew the Coffee
Pour ¼ cup of room temperature water, 1 teaspoon of cardamom, and two teaspoons of sugar into an ibrik and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, carefully measure two tablespoons of fine-ground Italian roast arabica coffee into the water.
When it foams, remove the ibrik from the heat and allow the foam to subside for a few seconds. Return the ibrik to the heat and repeat three more times.
Pro Tip: Resist the urge to stir. You want the fine coffee grounds to settle to the bottom so you don’t get a mouthful of them.
Once the process is complete, strain the coffee through a fine mesh sieve, if desired, and serve.
This mirra coffee is a simple, strong brew that pairs perfectly with dates or traditional Middle Eastern desserts.
Did you make this mirra coffee? Drop a comment below or in our Home Grounds Facebook group, and tell us how you liked it.
Yes, you can make mirra coffee with an espresso machine. Be sure to use an Italian roast for the most authentic flavour. Also, you can add a pinch of ground cardamom to your grounds before brewing. Don’t forget to wash and rinse your portafilter afterwards.
Yes, you can add milk to mirra coffee. The dark and bitter Italian roast pairs very well with either half-and-half or whole milk, though it is not traditional.
The best single-origin coffee for Mirra coffee is a dark roast from an East African growing region, like Ethiopia or Rwanda. However, since the coffee has been double-roasted, it will be difficult to detect any specific regional difference from cup to cup.
- Travel Atelier. (n.d.). The Bitter Coffee of Southeastern Turkey: Mirra. Retrieved from https://travelatelier.com/blog/bitter-coffee-southeastern-turkey-mirra/