I knew heading on this trip that Prague and Budapest were hipster-hangouts (Bohemia, after all, is in Prague). But little did I know that the third-wave of coffee had hit these cities hard, and the world is better for it.
The third wave is, in many ways, a reaction. It is just as much a reply to bad coffee as it is a movement toward good coffee. – Trish R. Skeie, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters
- English, it seems, is the language of third-wave coffee (obviously while also being the language of the world economy). Menus, items for sale, brewing methods etc. were all in English. It made my life easy.
- The coffee shops (espresso bars, roasting labs, cafes etc.) are concentrated in the same areas, mostly.
- The third-wave is fairly new in Prague and Budapest, but has a firm grasp. Most shops have started within the last 4 years.
Now, for the good part…pictures.
Our first stop…EMA Espresso Bar
Third stop…La Boheme Cafe
While we loved the coffee in Prague, Budapest had a lot more options. It seems like specialty coffee has deeper roots, or at least is spreading quicker, in Budapest.
Stop #1…Sock’s Coffee
Stop #2…My Little Melbourne
Stop #3…Tamp & Pull
Stop #5…Espresso Embassy
Stop #6…Blue Bird Cafe
We didn’t get to visit all the shops on our list…but that just gives us reason to go back! Until next time Prague, and Budapest…
Oh…and this sums up our coffee tour…
A couple weeks ago I shared how excited I was for the Istanbul Coffee Festival. Well, it has come and gone, and I must say, I was very impressed. As my wife and I walked up to Haydrapasa Station in Istanbul we were greeted with the sweet aroma of dozens of roasters and baristas working fervently to brew a cup that appeals to all senses.
Appealing to All Senses: There is something more to coffee than its caffeine stimulus and its action on the taste buds of the tongue and mouth. The sense of smell and the sense of sight play important roles. To get all the joy there is in a cup of coffee, it must look good and smell good, before one can pronounce its taste good. It must woo us through the nostrils with the wonderful aroma that constitutes much of the lure of coffee. – William H. Ukers (All About Coffee)
Unfortunately, I can’t share the aroma through this medium, but I can share the sights.
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.
Petra Roasting Co.’s new spot in Alacati is one of my favorite places to drink coffee on this planet (I’ve yet to drink any on another planet). It has everything one could want in a coffee spot. Hipness. Peace and quiet. Great decor. And, most importantly, skilled baristas brewing up some stupendous coffee.
at Sprudge.com does a magnificent job of making me want to go back.
Alaçatı is an Aegean beach town whose popularity seems to grow each year. So far this beautiful place has been able to maintain its identity as one of the most authentic old towns in Turkey, complete with stone houses, narrow stone streets, and vineyards and windmills that date back more than 150 years. More recently the city is home to a few stylish boutique hotels, filled up with well-heeled tourists from Turkey and across Europe.
I love coffee, and I love Turkey. I love living here, I love learning here, and I love the people. Most people around the globe know at least some things about Turkey (Turkish Delight, the Whirling Dervish, Istanbul not Constantinople), and therefore many people have heard of Turkish coffee. But, those same people probably do not realize just how important it is in Turkish society. I set out to measure just how special it is by, of course, reading some books and blogs, and by interviewing an “expert” (a Turkish housewife) to learn more about this drink that takes your taste buds on the ride of their lives.
- “A bubbly brew indeed” – Turkish coffee isn’t made with today’s popular methods (Chemex, V60, or the Barista at Starbucks). Turkish coffee is boiled — coffee, water, and sugar all together; not in a pan, but in a traditional instrument made of copper called a “cezve”.
- “The best things come in small packages” – Turkish coffee is served in what looks to be a teeny-tiny little mug; in part because it was so valuable that it could only be afforded in small amounts, and at the same time, so strong that it could only be consumed in small amounts. But don’t worry, even the most burly of Turkish men drink their coffee in these glasses, holding their pinkies up high and proud.
- “You’ll never be drunk alone” – Another thing one must know is that Turkish coffee is never served alone. “Usually” says Rusen, “Turkish coffee is given with a small glass of water. The reason for this is that if one drinks the water before the coffee then they can clean out their mouth and the flavor of the coffee will be better. It is drunk after the coffee in order to clean out the coffee grounds from your teeth and mouth.” I’ve also been told that if you drink the water before the coffee, it means you are still hungry and the coffee was served too soon. Thankfully it also sometimes comes with chocolates, or my favorite, Turkish Delight.
- “More coffee, or I am divorcing you!” – According to Mark Pendergast, in his book “Uncommon Grounds”, coffee was so important during the 16th-century in the Ottoman empire, that a husband not providing enough coffee became grounds for a woman to seek divorce.
- “Coffee, tell me my future” – Many are familiar with psychic reading of tea leaves, but did you know that some people think coffee might give you a clearer picture of your future? “Falcılık” (fortune telling), or “fal bakmak” is where a fortuneteller reads your coffee grounds and tells you what the future has in store. So does it really work, or is it just a game played for fun? It depends on whom you ask. First you drink your coffee, living a little bit of the grounds in the cup. Once you have just the grounds left, you gently turn over your cup on the saucer, and if you have a ring you put a ring on top of the cup. This makes the cup cool down quickly and helps your fortune come out better. “Then,” Rusen excitedly explains, “once everyone has turned the cup over, the reader removes the cup and looks at your grounds to read your fortune.” There are even apps that will help you figure out your fortune.
- “Give a cup of coffee, earn my respect” – Ask anyone on the street in Turkey and they can probably tell you this saying about Turkish coffee: “bir kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır”, meaning, “one cup of Turkish coffee has a forty year obligation.” Even with the translation it is somewhat of a riddle, but this means that the person giving the coffee is to be respected, honored, and remembered for a long time for the sake of his offering the coffee. “This shows us that Turkish coffee is very valuable and special,” said Rusen.
- “I fell in love because of her coffee” – This might be something you only hear a barista or a coffee addict say, but in Turkey, it has a lot more meaning. At a “kız istemeye” (“to get the girl” – when a man comes to ask for a girl’s hand in marriage), it is a tradition for the would-be-bride to make Turkish coffee for the would-be-groom and his family. Since Turkish coffee is only for special occasions, this makes the guy and his family feel special. “In the groom’s Turkish coffee”, says Rusen, “you sometimes put some salt, or a little spicy pepper.” “Why?” You ask. “Is this something that will be hitting Starbucks menu soon? I thought the coffee was meant to impress the groom!” Yes, but it is also used to test his love for the girl. If he complains about the coffee, then the coffee was more important than she. If he drinks it without complaining, he really loves her. I once watched my friend drink a coffee with vinegar in it at his “kız istemeye.” True love indeed. Thankfully, the cups are small.
- “Give me that foam” – most coffee lovers know that a cappuccino or latte is judged by it’s foam. Well, Turkish coffee, being the “grand-father of the espresso” — according to Erin Meister of Counter Culture Coffee here — is also judged by the spumy, lathery foam. Rusen told us how all her friends know that her Turkish coffee is the best because of the amount of foam she can froth up.
- “Coffeehouses – where business and brawling happen” – Erin Meister, who writes for seriouseats.com hereabout the journey of coffee, rightly cites coffee as fuel for “marketplace discussion” during the Ottoman Empire. She tells how it was “continuously used as a catalyst for business meetings and the exchange of a day’s news.” But Turkish coffeehouses were not just the place for brewing economic and intellectual growth, they were also known for brewing troublemakers. Some rulers thought people in coffeehouses were having too much fun, and one Grand Vizier Kuprili of Istanbul “banned coffeehouses during a war, fearing sedition” and treachery, writes Mark Pendergrast. Looks like caffeine helps out with brain function and military coups!
- “How should we celebrate? Coffee!” – During the time of Ataturk (someone you need to get to know when planning a trip to Turkey), and even during the time of the Sultans, a “paşa” (general) would celebrate winning a battle by sharing a cup of Turkish coffee with his lieutenants.
- “Let’s chase this meal with a cup of joe” – Having a cup of coffee after dinner is not uncommon the world over. But in Turkey, one is hard pressed to find someone who does not end their meal with a glass of “çay” (tea). However, there are also those who like to end a meal with a cup of Turkish Coffee. So, next time you are in Turkey, why not follow that kebab and pilav with a nice, strong, thick cup of the REAL Turkish delight, coffee.