It’s a quiet morning in Istanbul’s Cihangir neighborhood, and Serkan Ipekli is tired. The 2013 Turkish Barista Champion is fighting an ear infection, but he’s also experiencing the grueling pace of running what amounts to be a 24/7 business: Geyik Coffee Roastery & Cocktail Bar. Geyik, which means “deer” in Turkish, only opened five months ago, but it’s already been a wild ride.
Geyik might have just opened, but Serkan is a veteran of the Turkish coffee scene. He honed his skills working for wholesale roaster Coffee Factory and Bebek café Cup of Joy. It was while working for Cup of Joy, that Serkan represented Turkey at the 2013 World Barista Championship in Melbourne, Australia. Serkan still has a business relationship with Coffee Factory, who sources Geyik’s green coffee. Serkan roasts all of Geyik’s coffee in-house with a 2 kilo Has Garanti. The line-up changes each week, as Serkan likes to have the freedom to experiment with different blends and roast profiles.
The inspiration for Geyik’s duel concept came from Tailor Made in Athens, Greece. Greece and Turkey might have a history of tension and conflict, but they also have remarkably similar cultures. The two countries share a border, the Aegean Sea, and a national spirit (rakı for the Turks, ouzo for the Greeks). Both countries also have a growing number of students and young professionals thirsty for craft beverages, be it coffee or cocktails. Serkan represented Turkey in the 2013 Coffee in Good Spirits competition, so no matter what you choose you’re in good hands.
Although Serkan’s passion is coffee, most of his customers come for his take on classic cocktails such as the old fashioned or sidecar. By 8:00 PM the tiny space is usually packed and overflowing onto the street- a noticeable contrast to Cihangir’s sleepy mornings. If you don’t imbibe, don’t worry. Coffee service continues in the evening. In Turkish culture, coffee is more readily consumed at night than in the morning.
If Geyik Coffee Roastery & Cocktail Bar is any indicator, Turkey’s future looks bright. A new generation of well-traveled entrepreneurs are opening their own businesses and executing on a global level. Amongst an explosion of specialty coffee shops in Istanbul, Geyik joins a short list of cafés worth going out of your way to find.
Geyik is a short 10 minute walk from Taksim Square. Cihangir’s winding streets are known to even confuse locals, so be sure to consult a map before you try to find it. Geyik’s address is Akarsu Yokusu No:22/A Cihangir, Istanbul, Turkey. It’s one block from the Orhan Kemal Museum.