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.
I’ve gone on record elsewhere as saying that Petra has the strongest brand of any Turkish coffee company, and their new Maslak café only ups the ante. The space is hosted in the lobby of a furniture design company’s showroom, so the thoughtful architectural touches are especially apropos. Visually, one’s eyes are drawn to the striking, angular molding that lines the wall behind the bar, complemented by an eclectic array of fluorescent lighting. The ultra-contempory bar space is contrasted by the seating area, whose black and white whicker chairs and marble table tops invoke a classic Parisian vibe.
As a sucker for fancy espresso machines, I couldn’t resist starting with an espresso, pulled on Petra’s Modbar AV, (Which I believe to be the first one in Turkey outside of La Marzocco’s showroom). When I visited, the espresso was an all South American blend, sweet with a fair bit of acidity.
For those who prefer a Scandinavian roasting style, Petra is certainly the Turkish roaster best suited for their tastes. They’ve long worked with roasting consultant Patrick Rolf to release roasts high on acidity and Agtron readings.* After polishing off my espresso, I had a cup of Kenya Kamwangi, brewed on a Fetco XTS. The brew had a classic Kenya burst of Blackcurrant-like fruit with none of the savory tomato flavors light roasted Kenyas tend towards. It’s certainly an enzymatic-forward cup that pushes the boundaries of what many would call too light. We leave it up to our readers to make that value judgment.
But Petra’s daily roasted coffee is only half of the draw here. The space has a full kitchen, fresh baked bread, and an impressive array of pastries and sandwiches. I’ve often said Petra’s polenta is the best gluten free pastry in Istanbul, and it’s rare that I visit Petra without ordering one— even if I had sworn to exercise some self restraint.
With their new Maslak café, Petra once again proves there’s no one better at designing cafés in the Turkish specialty coffee scene. Its somewhat remote location on the northern edge of the city means few tourists will see it, but the throngs of office workers that populate Maslak’s office towers will no doubt make up for it.
*Agtron meters measure the color of food products by assigning a numerical value to its hue. Darker colors have a lower score.