Vienna has a long history with coffee. Legend has it the first coffee house in Vienna was opened with coffee the Ottoman army left behind at the Battle of Vienna. Whether or not that’s true, the city is still famous for its grandiose coffee houses, many of which remain relatively unchanged since the 19th century….
If it weren’t for the hoards of tourists, Innsbruck might be the perfect Alpine city. But places that are popular are popular for a reason. And Innsbruck’s stunning natural beauty, quaint architecture, and top-tier winter sports make it a travel destination like few others, even if you probably will find that tour group of American college students to be unreasonably loud.
But Innsbruck is more than just the home of the 1976 Winter Olympics. It’s also a pretty good place to get a cup of coffee. Honestly, any cup of coffee tastes pretty good when you’re staring at the Alps, but two places we had coffee in Innsbruck were a step above….
Walking down Josefstrasse, it’s easy to see why Zurich repeatedly tops lists of the world’s most livable cities. The brightly colored apartment blocs– an eclectic array of modern and neoclassical architectural styles– are flanked by wide sidewalks with plenty of trees and park benches. Impeccably-dressed cyclists constitute the majority of traffic, and the occasional motorist doesn’t hesitate to yield the right of way to pedestrians.
But what’s a neighborhood without a coffee shop? And Josefstrasse just happens to have one of the best in the world: MAME….
Istanbul is truly enormous. It’s so big, it’s hard to measure, though some counts list it as the fourth largest city in the world. As the city sprawled out over the the twentieth century, it engulfed several ancient communities, including the modern district of Kadıköy, known as Chalcedon in ancient times. Today, Kadıköy is the main cultural hub for Istanbul’s Asian half, and is home to a dense array of cafés and coffee roasters, including the new headquarters for Story Coffee….
In the world of coffee brewers, there’s a pretty big gap between SCA-certified home brewers, like the Bonavita 1900 series or the Technivorm Moccamaster, and commercial brewers, which need to be plumbed and sometimes even hardwired. The consumer models tend to max out around a liter capacity, while commercial machines are optimized for brewing 3+ liters of coffee….
One of the most painful parts of leaving the land of 110 voltage and moving to Europe was saying goodbye to all of my electronic coffee gear. The most beloved item was a well-worn Bonavita Variable Temperature Kettle, a prize from a barista competition with both sentimental and practical value. The kettle was used daily for four years, and was still going strong when I passed it on to a friend. Although there are kettles I prefer for their superior handle or spout, the convenience of automating water temperature wins every time, especially when it comes to that first, sleepy-eyed cup in the morning….
I’ve longed bemoaned the fact most tourists visiting Istanbul don’t make it to Balat, the old Jewish quarter. In addition to its colorful row houses and historic synagogues, Balat is home to one of my favorite coffee shops, Coffee Department. The roaster/retailer has set themselves apart as one of the strongest brands in a very crowded marketplace, due in no small part to founder Metin Benbasat’s tireless dedication to quality. Benbasat is a longtime resident of Nişantaşı, so it makes sense he would open his second café closer to home….
I spent the better part of my twenties in Louisville, Kentucky, a city that, by all accounts, punches above its weight class. From fast casual barbecue to white tablecloth Mayan food, the culinary scene is surprisingly diverse, spurred on by low cost of living and a young, culturally-aware population. Many of the most exciting restaurants and cafés are independent, DIY passion projects– a little rough around the edges but driven by a salt-of-the-earth, Midwestern work ethic, with a generous portion of Southern hospitality. (As a river city straddling the Mason-Dixon line, Louisville is geographically, and culturally, confused.)
The most exciting neighborhood for coffee in Istanbul right now is a full 12 kilometers from the city’s center, and technically it’s not really a neighborhood. Maslak is something of an urban curiosity— a suburban financial district on the Northern edge of Istanbul’s European side. But this island of skyscrapers is also home to a booming number of specialty coffee shops— driven by the plethora of white collar office workers that populate the glass high-rises during working hours. The newest of of those shops is the latest café from roaster/retailer Petra Coffee, in the lobby of the Mudo Concept Tower….
Çağatay Gülabioğlu is something of a legend in Turkish coffee circles. Gülabioğlu was the first licensed Q grader in Turkey, serves as the national coordinator for the Turkish Aeropress competition, and is the regional distributor for Cafe Imports. He also founded the pioneering roaster/retailer Kronotrop, a company he has since sold. After moving on from Kronotrop, Gülabioğlu cofounded the wholesale roastery Probador Colectiva, which continues to set the standard for quality in the Turkish coffee scene. Although Probador often hosts professional events and trainings, consumers who wanted to try their coffee had to buy it online, or track down one of their wholesale partners. That was until Probador recently opened a tasting room in its Tophane headquarters….