Hot Coffee Brewed On Top of Blazing Turkish Sands

Traditional Turkish Coffee Experience Served at Café Kum

The barista stirs the sands to keep heat distribution equal. Photo by Jiyun Chung.

The barista stirs the sands to keep heat distribution equal. Photo by Jiyun Chung.

Jiyun Chung, Jade Lee, and Alyssa Chang

The Turkish are known to treasure their culture of brewing tea and coffee, and an old proverb perfectly showcases that intensity, “Coffee should be black, strong as death, and sweet as love.” The result of this passion is a dizzying amount of ways to brew the traditional cup of joe. Among the variants of coffee around the globe, one of their more distinctive drinks is known as Turkish sand coffee, or “Türk kum kahvesi” in the native language. It’d be difficult to find such an exotic beverage here in Daegu, but surprise, surprise! A little research goes a long way. Café Kum in Suseong-gu has its doors open to all coffee lovers, and it serves this exotic delight. 

My friend Jodie and I entered the café with high expectations. Those expectations only mounted when we encountered an intriguing sight: a large pan filled with hot sand at the entrance. The interior of the café wasn’t large, but it had a warm and cozy atmosphere. A large window allowed plenty of sunlight to shine through, and the steam of the coffee permeated the air. Sun beamed through onto a long table, and a couple of chairs with an antique charm.

The large window allows for plenty of light to enter the café which lightens the mood. Photo by Jiyun Chung.
Jiyun and Jodie ordered both the original (left) and filtered (right) coffee with a side of sweet cookies made in-house. Photo by Jiyun Chung.

Once we placed our orders, the barista explained the menu in detail. There were four types of roasts available; the house recommends Guatemalan beans, as long as you don’t mind the acidic taste. Because “Türk kum kahvesi” is brewed in a small pot called a “Cezve,” which is filled to the brim with ground-up coffee beans and piping-hot water, there are two ways to taste the coffee: you can either drink the brew with the grinds (the original option) or filter it to remove the ground-up beans. For the sake of comparison, we ordered both styles.

As customers sipped away, the occasional clanking of the pans and Cezves could be heard throughout the café. The barista explained to us that the sand is heated up to 370°C. The heat had to be distributed evenly throughout the pan, hence the constant need to shake the pan back and forth as if it was a wok. When we ordered a drip brew, the skilled barista poured the liquid through the filter to separate the powder from the foamy crema. For the original option, the shopkeeper suggested that I should drink until I could only see the grinds at the bottom of the cup, then rinse my mouth with water to cleanse my palate. 

The skilled barista brews the coffee over the piping hot sand, which measures 370 degrees Celsius. Photo by Jiyun Chung.

After chatting with Jodie and soaking in the café’s pleasant atmosphere, we received our drinks alongside buttery-soft, handmade cookies. The deep aroma of the Guatemalan beans and the sweet scent of the cookies soon began to infuse around us. To get the authentic experience, we first tried the original brew; the rich concentration was between an Espresso and an Americano that was provided at the shop. The grainy powder on the crema increased the savory flavor of the cup of joe. 

We both finally concluded that the unfiltered option provided a better taste – a better insight if you will – into the roast of choice. We also concluded that the bitter coffee desperately called for some sweet desserts; we were delighted to try the handmade cookies that had a delectable smell. Take a sip of your drink and a bite of the cookie, and soon after, another sip and another bite which moderates the bitterness without eliminating any aroma.

The coffee grinds are left underneath the original option which produced a strong, complex flavor. Photo by Jiyun Chung.

This new experience was perfect in every aspect for me. I enjoyed being there because of the excellent java and the overall ambiance Café Kum had to offer. Turkish sand coffee provides both the joys of watching interesting brewing methods while also enjoying a unique, deep, and polished taste. If you are an avid coffee lover, visit Café Kum and try some “Türk kum kahvesi” – I guarantee that you will love it.