Istanbul Coffee Festival

In Kadıköy, on Istanbul’s Anatolia side, proudly stands Haydarpaşa train station. The Guide Istanbul describes Haydarpaşa train station as once being “one of the busiest train stations in the world, connecting the Orient Express line from Europe to the Baghdad-Hijaz railway of the Middle East. The station’s castle-like German architecture contrasts with the Oriental tiles inside, giving a perfect historical atmosphere for the world’s most innovative coffee providers.” Pretty intriguing description, one that makes this year’s Istanbul Coffee Festival exciting for more than being a coffee festival, which is exciting enough.

The 2015 Istanbul Coffee Festival will be Turkey’s (perhaps Eurasia’s) largest gathering of third-wave coffee enthusiasts – professionals, owners, roasters, connoisseurs, baristas, and newbies included. What is “third-wave coffee”, you ask? Esquire answers that in the most entertaining way.

As a way to celebrate and prepare for the festival (I get to go this year!), I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite (and I think the best) coffee specialists, roasters, and shops in Turkey.

Kronotrop – When it opened in 2012 it was one of the first specialty coffee roasters in Istanbul, and all of Turkey for that matter (Çekirdek being the other shop laying claim to breaking ground first. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to visit this shop yet). Kronotrop recently moved from the Taksim area of Istanbul to the heart of the historical sites of the city in Eminonu. So right after you go see the 1,500 year old museum/church/mosque (Hagia Sophia), go on down and get some good coffee.

Coffeetopia – Just around the corner from Krontrop you’ll find Coffeetopia. Specialty coffee in Turkey wouldn’t be where it is today if it where not for Şerif and Özlem Başaran. As a certified WBC Technical Judge, and owner of Coffee Factory, which provides beans to other shops in Turkey, Şerif has influence throughout the Turkish and European coffee world. This is there first retail venture and they are doing it right.

Petra Coffee – Petra has a small kiosk in Istanbul, but the place to try their coffee is in the Tuscany style beach town of Alaçatı. Petra came flying onto the coffee scene and made a big splash, they took fourth place last year at the World Coffee Roasting Championship in Rimini, Italy. But there is no specialty roaster with a space like they have in Alaçatı. A village beach town where everything moves slowly is the perfect place to try their cold brew on a hot summer’s day.

Brew Lab – Being led by Turkish Barista and Latte Art champion Özkan Yetik and being located on the most famous street in Turkey gives this coffee shop an edge, but the amazing coffee seals the deal. Featuring the likes of Japanese iced coffee and fun with siphons they are sure to please

Two Cups Coffee – For years the coffee scene in Turkey has only been represented in Istanbul. Thankfully over the last year Izmir has seen an influx of 3-5 specialty coffee shops (with Petra being close by in Alaçatı) – since I live here, I am especially grateful. On the top of my list is Two Cups. Located in the hip neighborhood of Alsancak, Two Cups is owned and operated by Tolga Onder. While I haven’t had the chance to try my favorite coffee (Ethiopian Kochere) I’ve been wonderfully satisfied by their Guatemalan and Honduras roasts. I’m even more excited that they are only a short ferry ride away.

While the Third Wave Coffee scene has yet to hit all the corners of Turkey, the Istanbul Coffee Festival is evidence of specialty coffee’s growing popularity and success.