Turkish coffee by Fazil Bey, photo copyright 2014 by Nick Rossi
Fazıl Bey'in Türk Kahvesi, Kadıköy, Istanbul, photo by Nick Rossi, 2014
But the Turkish coffeehouse occupies a very special place in history. Dating all the way back to the 16th Century, it has provided the template that is still closely followed in current times. The coffeehouse was established in Istanbul as a public place of gathering, where art and politics were discussed, leisure was pursued, and - of course - coffee was sipped. It is a grand tradition and one that nearly every culture has co-opted to some extent over the subsequent 500 or so years.
Exterior shop detail, photo by Nick Rossi, 2014
Interior view of the first floor looking out at the entrance, photo courtesy of the Fazel Bey website
All that said, there do exist some lingering examples of Istanbul's rich coffeehouse tradition. It takes some looking for sure and even then it takes some additional digging to find the good stuff. Fazıl Bey'in Türk Kahvesi roughly translates to Fazil Bey Turkish Coffeehouse in English and has been roasting, grinding, and serving its own coffee - in the Turkish manner - since 1923. And while that provenance may not seem much for a city that reaches back centuries, it is a very long time for coffeehouse in Istanbul that is still in operation. The arabica beans are imported from Brazil, which makes some sense as 1920 reflected Brazil's peak in supplying the world coffee. Roasted an arm's distance from where the coffee is prepared and just a few feet from where it is served, this simple 2-floor building is a modern marvel of efficiency. It somehow manages to be both cluttered and crowded as well as clean and inviting at the same time - it's clientele a mix of students, businessmen/women, more adventuresome tourists, and wizened old-timers.
View of the cashier (right) with the roaster visible in the background, photo courtesy of the Fazel Bey website
The roaster and grinder, photo courtesy of the Fazel Bey website
Photo of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, c.1930, the father of modern Turkey enjoying his coffee and cigarette; a copy of this photo hangs on the wall in Fazil Bey's