Istanbul is a city of sacred tradition, and coffee is without a doubt one of them. Coffee came to Turkey in the early 16th century and had a rapid rise in popularity. Istanbul has been an important trading hub between the east and the west and one of the most popular trading good was coffee. Even the meaning of the word coffee comes from the Turkish language for it: Kahveh. This is why it is no surprise that the best black coffee in the world is probably made in here.
There are many cafés in Istanbul. People here simply love taking their “cezve” (coffeepots) and start brewing this delicious and energetic drink. However the café culture goes beyond grabbing a cuppa with your friends. The cafes have become part of the tourist attraction and most of the cafés manage to create an excellent blend of modern and traditional design. Here are some of the best cafes you should check out in Istanbul.
Located in the hip neighbourhood in Karakoy, Dem is an indoor cafe with industrial, eclectic decor. The cafe is extremely popular for its tea selection. In fact they have an interesting concept of “tea smelling” session where you can choose your tea after smelling the fragrance and getting the complete information about different specimens. Along with different varieties of teas, they have a lip smacking menu of breakfast dishes like simit and white cheese, menemen (eggs with vegetables) and börek varieties.
There are many cafes to get that Turkish coffee but Mandabatmaz is considered the best out of the lot. They have developed a strong reputation among coffee lovers and have been serving the best Turkish coffee for decades. This small place is located on a side street off İstiklal Caddesi. It is not a fancy place with a lot of décor. Instead it is a cute family owned cafe with a friendly staff and an aroma of fresh coffee which has been the talk of the town. As the name suggests, Mandabatmaz (meaning “the buffalo will not sink”) is known for its thick, intense coffee foam. If you do not drink coffee, you should try the famous Turkish black Tea, also served in this amazing café. Mandabatmaz can be considered a great landmark of the city that offers great insight into Turkish beverage culture.
Pierre Loti Hill Cafe
Pierre Loti was a well-known French novelist who fell in love with Istanbul and regularly landed at a cafe on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn. The cafe was later renamed after him and is very popular because of the stunning views it offers. The location has made it one of the most romantic spots in the city and you’ll find most of the tables occupied by couples. Thank us later for your amazing date.The dark chocolate icecream is a must try here. You can also grab few snacks with a freshly brewed cup of Turkish coffee and enjoy the views and your company.
Çorlulu Ali Paşa
This is a medrese building adjacent to Çorlulu Ali Paşa Mosque which was built in 1709. The historic atmosphere offers a surprising peace, as if you step in to a different dimension. As you enter the place, you leave the busy city sound behind. Also, many people agree that this is the best place to smoke water pipe or sheesha – nargile in Turkish. During the day you’ll find older men from the mosque next door in the vibrant, smoky courtyard flipping through newspapers as a sheesha haze envelops them. By night, the vine-covered, lantern-lit area is filled with tiny wooden chairs scattered around knee-level tables, as a younger crowd chats, smokes and drinks.
Visit Cuma Café to have some authentic Turkish meal. The café is located just a hundred meters from author Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence and is part restaurant, part coffee shop. It is an open terrace cafe adorned with a vintage theme. You can sit on the terrace and enjoy a tropical feel of the breeze and fresh air. You know a place is great when even the locals frequent it and Cuma is highly recommended.
Galata Konak Café
Want to have breakfast with a view? Head to Galata Konak café. Located on the top floor of a three-storey historic building, the place offers an impressive combination of tranquility and a magnificent 360 degree view containing the Galata Tower, the Bosphorus and its bridge, the Golden Horn, the Galata Bridge connecting the historical peninsula with the 5 hills of the city, Topkapı Palace, Yeni Camii, Hagia Sophia, and Süleymaniye Mosque. The menu boasts a wide selection of freshly squeezed juices and cakes. Lazy Sunday brunches are a specialty of the café.
As the name suggests, this is all about coffee. Their mission is to serve great coffees and introduce and educate the locals about coffee with frequent workshops. The spacious shop offers plenty of seating and natural light, making it the ideal place to read and work. Coffee Department also has an outdoor space for those who want to enjoy their cup of freshly brewed coffee out in the sun. They make the best Flat Whites in Istanbul so give that a try while you’re here.
The House Café
The House Café’s main floor opens up into the centuries-old Tünel Passage, a charming courtyard in artsy Tünel hosting shops and cafes. Adorned with large chandeliers and a white interior, the cafe is divided into two parts: The bar above the basement, which is used as a wine cellar and hosts special events, and a quieter corner with small wooden tables scattered by large windows. The cafe is one of the most glamorous cafes in Instanbul which offers a stunning view of the Bosphorus, great food and friendly staffs. It’s a cosy place to wine and dine and located in the heart of Ortakoy. The cafe also offers a great menu for food and an amazing place to drop in for a Sunday brunch.
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