Known as Smyrna in Ancient Greece, Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city, and perhaps its most progressive. The city surrounds a natural harbor, which means you’re never far from the Aegean Sea. With beautiful parks that line the coastline and a relatively modest population of 3 million, it feels relaxed and liveable to one visiting from Istanbul. Izmir is a main travel hub for many of Turkey’s best beaches, as well the stunning ruins of Ephesus. But the city has long been associated with coffee too, as it’s home to Turkey’s thriving coffee roaster manufacturing industry, with brands such as Toper and Has Garanti headquartered here.
With so many coffee roasters readily available and all around good vibes, perhaps a specialty coffee boom was inevitable. Indeed Izmir could give the capital Ankara a run for its money as Turkey’s second coffee city. Unfortunately, when I visited many of the cafés on my list were closed for the holidays, but thankfully two great coffee shops had their doors open.
Roast and Found
Izmir’s Bostanlı neighborhood on the north side of the city is home to Roast and Found, a microroastery and café. From the city center the neighborhood is a short ferry ride away (as in Istanbul, commuting by ferry is one of Izmir’s great pleasures). The café curiously has two espresso machines: including a customized Kees Van Der Weston Spirit. I enjoyed a sweet, chocolatey espresso with such a think head of crema I suspect their was some robusta in the blend. Regardless, it was a fantastic shot I would gladly drink any day. With plentiful outdoor seating, this is a great café to enjoy Izmir’s beautiful weather.
Baristocrat has three locations around Izmir, and we visited their Konak location in the heart of the city– a reasonable walk from sights like Izmir’s iconic Clock Tower and Agora. I first met Baristocrat founder Nurettin Karakundakoğlu at a Q course in Istanbul almost three years ago, when he was still working for Toper. Now he’s fulltime at his own roastery with an expanding number of cafés around the city. In addition to a gorgeous La Marzocco Linea PB with color-coordinated Mythos Grinder, the café has a great selection of back issues of Fresh Cup and Barista Magazine available, a real rarity in Turkey. Our group enjoyed a cappuccino, cortado, and cold brew, but regretted we didn’t find time to make it our to their roastery in Urla.