Three flat screen televisions are showing The Wizard of Oz on mute while loud speakers blast classic 50s rock and roll. In the background, a dull screeching sound, accompanied by the immediately recognizable smell of roasting coffee, fills the expansive space. A small army of baristas, all dressed in identical horizontally striped shirts, swarm behind the bar, making drinks for the quickly growing queue of office workers on their lunch break. Somehow, all of these disparate things harmoniously join to create Petra Coffee’s headquarters in Istanbul’s Gayrettepe neighborhood.
With a full kitchen, clothing boutique, and massive espresso bar, Petra’s headquarters is large— by Istanbul standards, gigantic. (One could easily fit Petra’s four other cafés in the space. The Topağacı location alone could fit behind the bar). Located on the bottom floor of the Selenium Panorama tower, the location is tucked away in a mostly residential area, near the top of one of Istanbul’s trademark steep hills. Marble and cast iron tables are arranged in a grid pattern, and an extensive selection of coffee brewing devices line a shelf that separates the café space from the production area.
Petra has their full line up of single origin coffees available on Aeropress or pour-over, but I almost always opt for the batch brew. Due to a lack of demand, Istanbul cafés tend to brew batch brew on small Moccamasters, which are a fine brewer for home use, but can’t match the consistently even extractions of a Fetco batch brewer. Petra HQ is one os the few Istanbul coffee shops moving enough batch brew to warrant a twin Fetco, and it churns out some of sweetest, most balanced cups of filter coffee I’ve had in the city. Whether it’s single estate lots like Colombia’s Finca Tamana or regional offerings like Ethiopia, Hunkunte, Petra tends toward coffees that are bright, clean, and delicate.
Espresso, always a single origin, is prepared on a custom Kees van der Westen Spirit and a Mazzer Robur grinder. Cappuccinos are served in branded Ancap mugs. Although there are a lot of microroasters in Istanbul these days, few have a strong, consistent brand like Petra.
Although not particularly accessible by public transportation, Petra’s Gayrettepe HQ is a mandatory visit for any specialty coffee lover in Istanbul. In both scale and quality, Petra offers a coffee experience like few others.