Fancy having your fortune told? Now you can find out all from the bottom of your cup. Your Turkish coffee cup.
In Turkey, superstition has it that your fortune can be told from the sediments of your hot beverage. Invented by the Ottomans hundreds of years ago, kahve or Turkish coffee is a time-honoured tradition that has been passed down through the ages. The taste of this unfiltered coffee is not for all, ourselves included. We didn’t hang around to hear our fortunes.
Instead, we hit the streets to discover the best specialty coffee shops in Istanbul. We discovered some amazing establishments brewing the best third wave coffee in the former Constantinople. The ones we found weren’t in the traditional coffee houses but in some high-quality premises dotted around the city. Don’t worry – no superstitions here.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST SPECIALTY COFFEE SHOPS IN ISTANBUL
DISCOVER ISTANBUL COFFEE SHOPS NEAR YOU
When we saw the chalk drawing of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the front window of this cafe, we knew we were onto something good. Having received barista training in Australia, Şerif Başaran opened the first Coffeetopia branch in Eminönü. The inaugural branch is thankfully open from 7am – perfect for pre or post sunrise photo hunt.
The chalkboard menu features third-wave coffee methods including the Japanese Syphon method, one which you rarely see on menus. Coffee sizes are blue, green and red rather than small, medium and large. A long row of syrups is neatly lined up for the sweet-toothed who would prefer a milkshake.
The cafe embraces Istanbul architectural design, building up rather than out. Black metal lamps offer low lighting in an immaculate space, perfect for a rest and a pick-me-up. You can also visit Coffeetopia Istanbul branches in Kadıköy – Bahariye and Georgia / Batumi.
This two-level red corner cafe is located behind the old shipping docks in Karaköy. We arrived on a quiet morning and took our flat white and cortado upstairs to soak up the morning light through the glass windows. A long table is suitable for laptop workers, similar in style to a library workspace. A small couch and two lounge chairs sit adjacent to a small bookshelf dotted with Turkish titles.
Kava Coffee clearly has more than a crush on Elvis. A faceless painting of the King features on the wall of the ground floor and Blue Moon softly crooned in the background on this particular morning. We’d recommend Kava Coffee for a pitstop when exploring the back streets of Karaköy or to help you up the hill en route to Galata.
“Ask Stupid Questions”.
Each of the waiters wore one of these badges which brought a smile to our lips. We had no need to though and settled into one of the small two-seater tables inside. The cafes slogan is most likely to encourage consumers to ask the highly skilled baristas about anything third-wave coffee which the cafe pioneers.
Coffee Manifesto is a small cafe on one of the main thoroughfares in Kadıköy. You can drink your coffee at a table outside among the street’s hustle and bustle. During our visit the cascara was unfortunately not available and so we selected an Aeropress and an espresso, accompanied by small butter cookies. The establishment also serves a small array of sandwiches, baked goods and home-made tiramisu.
Story Coffee & Food
Story Coffee & Food is located in a beautifully renovated corner building where many of the original features appear to have been retained. The mosaic floor entrance, polished hardwood floor, exposed red brick walls with varnished wooden window sills allow plenty of natural light to flood into this cozy space.
Third-wave coffee and regular milky options are available on the menu while the selection of baked goods will have you salivating. Sip your coffee whilst reclining at white marble table tops decorated with a posy of baby breath. Story Coffee sells its own roasted beans and merchandise.
Note: This particular street has a number of specialty coffee shops. We didn’t have enough time to stop by all but check out the list down below!
Montag Coffee Roasters
“Good coffee is worth the stairs”. We’d agree with that.
Blink and you’ll almost miss these stairs emblazoned with this teaser. A small sign and a glimpse of the balcony had us climbing said stairs to Montag Coffee Roasters.
A small-studio space with a balcony overlooking a busy intersection, the cafe decor feels Scandi-inspired. Inside, you’ll find birch bench seats, black stools and seats and white marble table tops adorned with small cacti. A beautiful profile of a woman takes up the entire back wall cleverly using the exposed rock of the original wall. Offering five third-wave coffee filter options and a selection of teas and small cakes, Montag also roasts and sells beans with African or South American origins.
Up the road from the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Norm Coffee perches on the edge of the Beyoğlu district. It might just be locals (or die-hard coffee fans) that visit this small corner shop as the area was quiet when we visited late in the afternoon.
Norm grinds single origin beans roasted by the Coffee Collective (based in Copenhagen). Sourdough tartines and daily-baked pastries are available for sale as well as bottled kombucha cold teas. Almond milk is also offered on the menu. We missed the end of the summer menu iced options and settled down in the simple interior with a cortado and espresso sitting opposite the bobbleheads atop the coffee machine.
Federal Galata Coffee
Turkish pals Sam Ceviköz and Levent Koçarslan were both born in Istanbul and received their barista and coffee education in Australia. So we knew we were in good hands again when we visited Federal Galata Coffee.
Established in 2016, the cafe sits up the hill from Komondo stairs and just around the corner from Galata Tower. It has a cool inside space and outdoor seating area featuring a neat three-wall coffee-themed mural on the concrete interior. Recycled metal elements flow through the decor from the bench tables to the bathrooms. An inviting squishy couch inside faces an impressive cake display.
Federal’s food and drinks menu is quite extensive meaning that you can pop in for something at any time of the day. All day breakfast, sandwiches, salads, third-wave coffee brews, iced drinks, espresso variations and an Aussie category – the whole kitten kaboodle.
Other coffee shops in Istanbul that we haven't tried yet but are on the list...
If you are a fan of Turkish coffee and wish to take this coffee flavour and texture home with you, then consider your equipment carefully. Earl of Coffee has written a comprehensive post of the best electric grinders to prepare your Turkish coffee, so that you can brew the real thing at home and feel like you never left Turkey.