Şile is a great short trip from Istanbul. I wouldn’t say it is worth it if you’re just in Istanbul as a tourist – there is so much to see – but if you do live here, it’s a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of city life. Istanbul, or modern life I guess, strips you of that connection to nature. Şile is an easy way to reconnect.
Simple really: friendly staff, good coffee and fast wifi. Far less pretentious and annoyingly crowded than the other MOC in Nisantasi. Also less barren than the one in Bomonti. Plus the coffee is better too (the Chemex is SO good, and, I don’t even like black coffee). I actually have a bit of a thing against MOC (ever since the Australian partner in the partnership left to establish Federal Coffee, and they continued sprouting themselves as Australian). But oh well. No need to be grumpy. Not when you’re caffeinated. So there you go, I didn’t want to like MOC but I did. I will definitely be back here again. 8.5/10 🙂
One of my favourite places in Istanbul is Maçka Park. Turkey is short of green spaces, and this one is large, inclusive and peaceful. Even on days when it is brimming with picnic-goers sprawled on the grass, and tightrope walkers doing their thang’. It’s pretty crowded in Summer but then, where in Istanbul isn’t. Plus, people aren’t judgemental or obnoxious. I’m fairly sue BBQs aren’t allowed – thank god. Everyone there is generally also super respectful of each other. It is the Nişantaşı crowd after all, so everyone is pretty relaxed and open-minded. It is also great for dog people. I swear on some days dogs outnumber people 2 to 1. I would definitely say it is Freud’s favourite place in the world. The one place he gets to play freely, and despite the occasional death stare, it’s one of the places it’s okay to walk him off-leash.
One of the saddest things is that I know this park will get redeveloped one day soon, and this little slice of green will sadly be a long gone memory. With that in mind, I’ve basically vowed to spend every weekend there when it isn’t raining. I’ve been doing pretty well on that front. I am fairly certain no-one goes there as much as I do 🙂
On a cold, rainy and windy day what is there better to do than to snuggle up and Netflix and Chill. That was the entirety of my plan for this Saturday. I mean, it’s cold outside and Netflix is pretty awesome (loving The Mind of Chef right now). Plus, I have a seven month puppy at home (a French Bulldog, crossed with … something). So really, there aren’t too many reasons I would want to do anything else. However, in the interests of having done something with my day, I thought a quick coffee stop was in order. With this in mind, and with a desire to start trying more new places, my boyfriend and I went to a new cafe called Voi Teşvikiye.
When we first sat down we were feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves. Extensive menu, newly opened, beautiful interiors and friendly staff. That extensive menu? It looked fantastic. We ordered the roast beef sandwich and strawberry & blueberry tartine. Unfortunately, the food is bad. Really bad. And expensive. Do not eat there. I could go on but rather than focus on the negative, I want to focus on the positive. The coffee.
The coffee was fantastic. They have a good range of different types of coffee (Chemex, Hario, Pour Over & Aeropress), as well as some really unusual flavoured coffees. They have the usual culprits (caramel latte anyone?) but also their special in-house blends including Pumpkin, Lavender, Blueberry and Ginger Honey. Supposedly these are house blended with brown sugar and essence. After the food my expectations were pretty low, and we debated forgoing the coffee but oh am I glad that we chose to stay.
I had the Lavender Latte, and it was delicious. The coffee itself was seriously tasty, made by an expert (perfectly blended) with a subtle hint of lavender. My boyfriend had the Blueberry Latte. The blueberry flavour was much more apparent in his latte but not overwhelmingly so. It was still delicious. Honestly, I loved the coffee. I can’t wait to go back here and order a plain latte. If it is as good as the flavoured lattes they make, then I am pretty sure this will be my favourite cafe in Nişantaşı (caveat: for the coffee. The food is crap).
When I first accidentally moved to Istanbul (yep, I mean that literally), I found the lack of good coffee a hard blow to deal with. I love good coffee. I love going out for coffee. I love sitting in cafes. I love talking about how much I love coffee and cafes. I also get obsessed with routines and rituals, and my daily morning walk to my job, with a coffee in hand from one of my favourite coffee stops, was one of my favourites. So yes, not having my morning coffee ritual was a pretty sad affair. When I first moved to Istanbul, I was living in Moda. The Sydney of Istanbul (by which I mean the cliche best of Sydney, relaxed, open-minded and energetic). I did manage to find some really great coffee there eventually, but it took me a while. So I was mainly living off milky turkish coffees.
When I made the “official” move to Turkey, I moved across the bridge, to a tiny apartment in Nişantaşı. I think my second favourite suburb in Istanbul (after Moda, before Cihangir). A cute, European-esque, posh little suburb. Not as relaxed as Moda but still, by far and above one of the best places you would want to live as an expat and as a woman. This suburb loves its “western”style cafes. I think cafes are a bit of a prestige thing to some people in Turkey but you can still find great, unpretentious little coffee shops. Actually, you’re more likely to find a latte here than a turkish coffee. Great news for me! So luckily I still get to enjoy my rituals.
By what I’ve written so far, you might think that I’m not satisfied with the coffee in Istanbul. That isn’t true. There is some great third wave coffee in Istanbul. Pretty good anyway. The problem is, I can’t compare it to Sydney. Coffee in Sydney is next level. Our milk works well and froths well, we have good soy options, and now even Almond Milk and beyond. I guess we can thank the Italians for that (just another example of the endless list as to why multiculturalism is a good thing, ehem Trump).
I don’t know what the exact science of good coffee is. I put it down to beans (freshness & quality), for milky coffees – the ratio of coffee to milk, the quality of the machine and the quality of the barista. The last one I care about a lot, because for me a perfect coffee is a milky one. A latte or cappuccino shouldn’t be like dishwashing water with a blub of foam on top (by the way, the dishwashing water reference is my Mum’s, and think about it … it’s very apt). It should be perfectly textured and thick. It shouldn’t be bitter but I want to taste the coffee; I didn’t pay for a glass of warm milk.
So, whilst I have been to many cafes in Istanbul (and abroad … because quite literally, I will walk for hours if I must to find good coffee), and there is much to review, the first one I’ve been to since randomly deciding to write a blog, is Petra Roasting Co. So that is what this review will be about. This cafe chain is known for being good. Heck, the flagship cafe in Gayrettepe is beautiful. And good. Seriously delicious chemex coffee and the most crumbliest carrot cake ever. When a friend took me there, I absolutely loved it. Ambience, food … everything.
Well, today I am at the Topağacı branch, which is not the flagship. And you can tell. Definitely not as cool as the flagship but still a great little concept. A bit saloonish, with marbled floors, wooden kitchen tops and brass fittings. This music is saloon-style too. I love that concept. Saloon. It’s definitely a concept cafe but still unpretentious. And I love that! The coffee is good but it is expensive. Super expensive (not when you convert it to aussie dollars, then it is pretty decent but when you consider what the average weekly wage is in Turkey!? It’s exxy). I mean coffee is generally expensive in Turkey (I think because the market is still relatively new, and it is quite expensive to produce still. These cafes, even the ones that do end up doing well i.e. MOC, take quite a big risk in the beginning) but Petra is even more so. The coffee is good. It’s not Sydney good but it is definitely as good as you get in Istanbul. If I was having a black coffee, I would probably say it was perfect but I am not a fan of the milk they use here. The milk they use is very …. milky. Very buttery. I purchased some coffee beans to try with our home filter, so I’ll let you know how that goes. I think this is a great place and the coffee is objectively really good, it is just not totally to my liking.
The staff are absolutely lovely by the way and that isn’t always a given in Turkey. I would definitely recommend checking this place out and making it part of your regular rotation, even though it wasn’t my best of the best. By the way, I sat here working for hours working on my own business (I have a small legal & immigration agency), and didn’t feel awkward at all.