In Istanbul, a movement is reaching critical mass. A couple of years ago we were on hand at the opening of Çekirdek– a cafe that is widely considered the first third wave coffee shop in one of the world’s largest cities. Since then the number of craft-minded coffee shops has exploded. Here are five Istanbul coffee shops changing the Turkish coffee scene.
From the handmade Anatolian tiles that line the counter, to the enviable array of equipment that top it, the aesthetic at the Cihangir café Kronotrop is as contemporary as you’ll find anywhere. More importantly, Kronotrop is raising the bar for sourcing and roasting coffee in Istanbul. Founder Çağatay Gülabioğlu recently joined forces with celebrity chef Mehmet Gürs and his Istanbul Food and Beverage Group. The two converted Gürs former test kitchen into Kronotrop’s new roastery and training center, featuring Turkey’s first Loring S15 Falcon. But what drives Kronotrop is not the gadgetry, but Gülabioğlu’s insatiable curiosity and immense drive to roast the best coffee possible. When we visited the El Salvador Buena Vista was tasting great both as an espresso and pour-over.
Petra Roasting Co.
Petra Roasting Co. is one of the newest micro-roasters in the Turkish scene, but they’re already making big waves. Recently they took fourth place at the World Coffee Roasting Championship in Rimini, Italy. “Our philosophy is to roast in small batches,” explains barista Cem Bozkuş. “We always trust our palates and check the quality in every stage.” The coffee is roasted at their Gayrettepe café, but the most convenient place to sample Petra’s coffee is their kiosk at Kanyon, located next to the street level entrance. The kiosk features a La Marzocco Linea and Mazzer Robur for espresso and a line up of Hario V60’s for filter coffee. The popularity of what was supposed to be a seasonal pop-up shop has led to plans to winterize the kiosk to keep it open year-round.
You can’t tell the story of Turkish specialty coffee without mentioning pioneers Şerif and Özlem Başaran. As a certified WBC Technical Judge, Şerif was integral in starting certified barista competitions in Turkey. Their company, Coffee Factory, provides coffee for many of the best cafés in Istanbul, including Cup of Joy and Geyik. Coffeetopia, however, is the Başarans’ first retail space in Turkey. Located between historic Sultanahmet and Eminönü’s Spice Bazaar, Coffeetopia is the obvious choice for any jet-lagged tourists seeking a proper cup of coffee while seeing the sights. Coffeetopia features a variety of manual brew methods, but the real star here is the Sanremo Opera espresso machine. Şerif served on Sanremo’s consultation team for the Opera, which features built-in scales, adjustable flow rate, and programable presets. In Şerif’s words, it’s “a dream machine.” At Coffeetopia the Opera is making Coffee Factory’s espresso blend and a rotating cast of single origin espressos sing. Looking for something more indigenous? Try a Turkish coffee, made with a blend of Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and Sumatra.
Just a stone’s throw from bustling Istiklal Caddesi, Brew Lab is helmed by former Turkish Barista and Latte Art champion Özkan Yetik. True to its name, Brew Lab features a wide array of brewing devices, from Japanese-style cold brew towers to siphons. For espresso, Brew lab boasts a Lar Marzocco Stada EP and a Ditting K30 Twin. The convenient location and the impeccable service had us revisiting Brew Lab throughout our entire visit. Had enough caffeine for the day? The house-made lemonade is fantastic.
Four Letter Word
With over 12 million people, Istanbul is a sprawling and crowded metropolis. It doesn’t take much of Istanbul’s traffic jams, crowded metros, and busy streets before most people need a break. Thankfully, the Prince’s Islands in the Marmara Sea are a short 30 minute ferry ride away. Burgazada is the least developed of the Islands, but home to Four Letter Word, a micro-roaster and café in the shadow of the island’s Greek Orthodox church. Childhood friends Ria Neri and Eylem Özkaya grew up in the same neighborhood in Chicago. The two hatched the idea of starting a coffee roastery on Burgazada, where Eylem’s family spent their summers. Although the café is only open in the summer months, Ria intends to roast on their 6 kilo Giesen year-round. Plans to open a cold brew bottling facility on the island are also in the works.