Just over five years ago I learned that Turkey would be hosting a Q grading course for the first time, and that it just so happened that it was going to be the week after I already was going to be in Istanbul on a planned visit. It had long been a professional goal of mine to take the course, so I arranged to stay an extra week.
That week would prove to be one of the most challenging of my coffee career. We tasted table after table of coffee. Blind triangulations. Aroma identification. Roast ID. It was grueling and exhausting. To make matters worse, I burned my tongue on a hot dessert the night before the first day of testing, but somehow managed to pass all 20 tests and earn a Q license.
Perhaps tne of the most valuable parts of the course for me was meeting the other coffee professionals. Having not met any of them before, by the end of the week I felt as though we were old army buddies who had been in the trenches together.
One of those coffee professionals was Ulaş Tüze, the owner and head roaster of Kahverengi Roastery. With locations in Çanakkale and Bozcaada- an island in the Aegean Sea— Kahverengi was one of the few specialty coffee shops outside of a major urban center in Turkey. Although I’ve long wanted to visit Bozcaada, (which produces some of Turkey’s finest wines), I was pleasantly surprised to learn Ulaş was opening a café just a few blocks from my flat in Istanbul’s Nişantaşı neighborhood.
Although Nişantaşı is teeming with coffee shops, Kahverengi has managed to stand out from the crowd. With Parisian-style wicker chairs and a start white exterior, it’s a photogenic café that’s sure to be popular with the Instagram crowd.
More importantly, the coffee is good. Although it seems a new roaster opens every week in Istanbul, roasting is not a skill that’s learned overnight. With 15 years of roasting experience, Ulaş knows how to coax the flavors he wants out of each coffee. Although most Istanbul roasters are in a race to see who can roast the fastest and lightest, Tüze is unapologetic about developing his coffee to a full medium roast. But medium doesn’t mean dark. The Ethiopia Sidama I had on a recent visit was true to type: fruity, floral, and complex. For now, Ulaş is still roasting in Çanakkale, but plans to open an Istanbul roastery in the fall.
For espresso, Kahverengi is pulling shots on a Victoria Arduino Eagle 1. Expect a more classic espresso profile — dark chocolate and dried fruit, which tastes great as a shot or in a cappuccino.
Kahverengi is a welcome addition to what remains Istanbul’s most exciting neighborhood for coffee shops. As much as Istanbulites daydream of escaping the city for Turkey’s Aegean coast, we’re lucky that Kahverengi has done the opposite.