From the traditional Ottoman style Café culture to the contemporary style artisanal coffee and coffee shops.
Coffee has long been a favourite beverage in Turkey but now a new wave of artisanal coffee and coffee shops are sweeping Istanbul.
The Ottoman Governor of Yemen introduced coffee to Istanbul in the mid 1550s and it soon became one of the most important brews of the country. The spread of coffee houses meant that 50% of the coffee produced in Yemen was consumed in Istanbul. Unlike today, during this time, coffee houses were places to go to discuss and argue ideas and were often visited by soldiers, firemen, professional merchants and artists.
However, coffee started to slip from being the nation’s favourite drink once people discovered the diluted black tea known as cay but in the past few years, it has made a huge comeback.
The first chain of coffee shops to arrive in Istanbul was in 1999 with Chicago-based franchise Gloria Jean’s Coffee. Next came Starbucks in 2003, which changed the face of Istanbul’s coffee scene. Now you can find every brand including Café Nero and Lavazza as well as a Turkish competitor, Kahve Dünyası.
Like many parts of the world, consumers started to have a bit of a backlash against the domination of the chains and began searching for more individual places to get their daily brew.
Şerif Başaran is a Turkish coffee pioneer who started importing single-origin beans from around the world to roast himself in Istanbul. His company Kahve Fabrikası also teaches professional barista skills to those interested in getting certified at an international level.
As Istanbul becomes increasingly cosmopolitan and trendy and areas such as Bebek and Moda establish themselves with well travelled individuals, the desire for high quality coffee shops that can compare to the chains in price but offer a more unique experience are becoming more sought after.
Coffee shops for pit stops
A full day sightseeing in Istanbul can only be completed if you factor in plenty of pit stops. There’s no better way to recharge and refuel at one of the city’s trendy coffee shops. Here’s Turkey Homes guide for where to stop for the perfect pick me up.
Çukurcuma: Holy Coffee is an unassuming café surrounded by antique
shops and tumbledown houses just a few minutes from Taksim. Away from the hustle and bustle, the decor is as laid back as the atmosphere with an assortment of comfy chairs and cafe style tables. On the walls you can find many works of art created by local artists and on the large wooden tables you will spot many people typing away on their macs or chilling out with a good book.
Beyoğlu: Kronotrop opened in 2012, and is widely regarded as one of the first specialty coffee bars in Turkey. Jazz music, low couches, bookshelves and vinyl decks make this popular with the trendy set or just those after a really good cup of coffee. Try one of the specialty coffees such as blended espressos and don’t forget you can buy your favorite beans to take home.
Kadıköy: In the Moda neighborhood of Kadıköy, Çekirdek has already acquired a loyal customer base. It's mostly a "coffee to go" place since it's quite compact but its delicious cakes will make you want to linger at one of the small tables.
Bebek: Next to Akbank on Cevdetpaşa street, Cup of Joy is devoted to all things coffee. Coffee paraphernalia features throughout and includes roasting, grinding, brewing gadgets and coffee beans that have been sourced from around the world. The smart, modern wood and leather interior is great for hanging out with friends or taking a breather from sightseeing. Customers are encouraged to choose their own selection of coffee and it is served in specially-designed cups and saucers according to your preferred style. The highly trained staff will serve one of the classics: cappuccino, latte, espresso and macchiato. The filter coffee is a ‘choose your own’ experience, where you pick the bean and method of preparation, whether it be siphon, AeroPress, single-drip or French press.
Galata neighbourhood: Cherrybean Coffees is a popular haunt in Istanbul with good coffee and charming staff. A spacious hang out, with tables well-suited for meeting up or using the free Wi-Fi, this is a popular place for locals and visitors alike. Baristas go through two weeks of training and are usually English-speaking university students. A variety of coffees are available as well as chocolates and cookies. Cherrybean roasts daily and sells packets of beans to take home.
Sirkeci: perfect for tourists, Brew Coffee Works is located on the ground of the Legacy Ottoman Hotel. The modern interior features high ceilings and double-height arched windows, which create a spacious, light environment. A special blend of 100% Arabica beans from Brazil, Guatemala, Colombia, and Ethiopia is roasted and ground in-house and served by experienced and trained baristas. There are also a variety of treats such as croissants, toasts, sandwiches, freshly baked brownies, apple and carrot cakes, cheesecakes, and tiramisu.
Beyoğlu: Located in the Galata Tower square, the Federal Coffee Company is run by Sami Çeviköz, a leading name in the coffee industry, together with his partner Levent Koçarslan. The coffee house applies an Australian qualified roasting method to preserve the natural taste and aroma of the beans. There are also handmade syrups prepared with raw almonds, Mexican pepper, bitter chocolate, jalapeno and spices used to create unique coffees.
Know the lingo
Whether it is for enjoyment or to become a bit of an expert, get to know the terminology in coffee and what to look out for to appreciate a special beverage.
Acidity is often referred to as the liveliness of the coffee. It is the sharp and pleasing aftertaste that comes from a good bean.
Aroma is closely related to the coffee flavor and is the fragrance of brewed coffee. With our sense of taste affected by smell, you may taste some of the subtle flavors through its smell and can be anything from ‘floral’ to ‘chocolate’.
Body the feel of the coffee rather than the actual flavor is referred to as the body. The ideal brew will by strong and creamy in the mouth.