The city’s coffee culture boom has begun about 3 years ago and the culture has grown quite fast since then. There are now tens if not a hundred of cafés, as referred to by the cafes we visited, in either parts of Istanbul. Considering the Turks were primarily tea drinkers it is incredible how quickly they embraced the Speciality coffee culture. Istanbul Coffee Festival attracted over 35 000 visitors last year, new cafés are opening all over the city and not only brew but often roast their own coffee as well!
Çağatay Gulabioglu, co-owner of Probador Collectiva, one of the pioneers of speciality coffee in Turkey.
He opened the very first speciality café of Istanbul over 3 years ago. It was called Kronotrop and it was a one-man show for a long time. Later he brought more people on the team, started roasting coffee and absorbing all kind of information available at that time. As his business grew he eventually left it in order to establish Probador Collective – a roastery, training centre and hopefully future hub for all things speciality.
Located only 5 minutes from Tophane station this 4-storey building contains all of the coffee geekery you could think of. Starting from the basement where green coffee is stored at a controlled temperature and humidity controlled environment you walk upstairs to the roastery on the ground floor. Two Giesen roasters are in charge of the production at the moment with Probat UG22 expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Çağatay plans to invite people to this “Coffee taster’s collective” so they can roast their coffee in a properly set up environment and on good machines. This workspace sharing has been a trend among some other foreigner roasters and luckily is gaining popularity abroad as well, allowing smaller or just launched roasting companies to achieve the best results with limited budgets.
Kadiriler Ykş. No:69, Istanbul
Cem Bozkuş and Gizem Yavuz opened Norm Coffee in May 2015. It took several difficult months to actually get it started. “The most difficult was finding a suitable place to rent” explains Cem. They both started working in coffee at Kronotrop. Cem was the first employee and Gizem joined the team third. Mr. Gulabıoğlu, their boss from Kronotrop, is currently one of their coffee suppliers. Next to Probador Collectiva they serve also coffee from Petra or Kronotrop, who actually started roasting first. Multiple roasters’ menu at cafés is rather rare but Norm’s customers appreciate it and so does the duo behind the bar. “Sometimes we can brew up to 16 different coffees at a time,” adds Cem.
Norm’s light and simple interior is furnished with black steel and wooden chairs, marble tables and lamps. A white 2 group Slayer machine and a white EK43 are the most dominant decoration on the bar.
Espresso based drinks are prepared on a La Marzocco Strada which sat on a long bar that takes you from doors to the very end of this café. It is just the right size of a bar for their two espresso grinders as well as two EK43s, one for filter coffee and one for Turkish coffee. If in a hurry, you can order a filter coffee brewed with Moccamaster. They have two options to choose from – one is more lively, another more chocolatey. To enjoy your coffee you can choose either the terrace with a view onto the busy streets or you can go to the back of the café, sit on the brew bar and enjoy the preparation of your coffee or the selection of coffee bags brought from around the world.
Kuloğlu Mah. Firüzağa Cami Sok. No:2/B Cihangir, İstanbul
Situated on a steep street of Yeni Çarşı is Brew Lab. This street is full of tiny artisan stores and workshops and also cats. “We have a lot of cats on this street. We call this one Pamuk. People love them and feed them. Actually, many of our cups are found on the street with some milk for them,” explains barista Aysu Ezgi Uzunoğlu.
Brew Lab is managed by Ozkan Yetik, three times Turkish Barista Champion. He helped to design this café and was responsible for the selection of coffee equipment and coffee itself. They use La Marzocco PB5 together with two Mahlkönig K30 (one single, one twin) grinders. Two cold drip stations and syphons, aeropress and v60s fill the rest of the space behind the bar.
Signature pieces of kitchenware are blue coffee cups and wooden trays designed exclusively for Brew Lab by Mânâ Yıldız.
Kuloğlu Mh., Yeni Çarşı Cad. 5/B, Istanbul