We’ve seen some quite warm and traditional places among the Best Cafés of Delhi, but now let’s continue our journey to a culture where they put more emphasis on their coffee drinking habits. Even though Istanbul is more famous for its diverse culinary side and many trading opportunities, it can offer a great selection of coffees.
If you enjoy a cup or two of that native beverage, you are going to love Istanbul. Coffee came to Turkey (back then known as the Ottoman Empire) 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.
It was already a vital part of the culture of the Ottoman Empire since even in the court, a Sultan had his own Chief Coffee Maker (a great honor, since he also had to have been loyal and a good keeper of secrets). Often, people would rise through the ranks in the system, from Coffee Makers to Grand Viziers, which is a no small task. 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, even for a city of its size. People there simply love taking their “cezve” (coffeepots) and start brewing this delicious and energetic drink. In this article, we will help you decide which one of the selected cafés suits you the best, so grab a coffee mug and enjoy the ride.
Our top picks:
10. The Bite Coffeeshop
- Address: Tomtom Mahallesi, Yeni Carsi Cad, No:82, Istanbul 34433, Turkey
- Telephone: +90 530 341 9595
- Opening hours: Mon – Fri, 7:30 – 19:00 Sat, 10:00 – 19:00
- More information about the coffee house: http://www.bitecoffeetr.com/
The Bite is a cute and artistic café near the Tophane tram stop. It’s located half way up the climb so it can be a good resting place if you feel a bit tired. It’s in an old and beautiful building, surrounded by a lot of trees and flowers. This café has a small terrace-like walkway with a couple of tables where you can sit, relax and watch the people walk by.
The barista is friendly and can understand and speak the English language without difficulties. Important point if you are a tourist. Their service is so nice that you will see smiley faces in your coffees, which is a great way to start the day.
Interior is artsy, with its mural on the wall of a Koala bear in a Hawaii t-shirt eating a cookie (funny and creative).
They offer a huge selection of coffees in different sizes, from small to who-needs-sleep big. One of the more interesting coffees they offer is Affogato, which is espresso served with scoops of ice cream in it. If you like to drink your coffee sweet, this is the order for you.
Some meals they offer are a great looking and delicious toast sandwiches, and sweet pancakes that go well with your coffee. All of their dishes are made from fresh ingredients and you can really feel it in the taste.
9. Lattas Coffee
- Address: Serdar-i Ekrem Street, No.29/ Galata, Istanbul 34421, Turkey
- Telephone: +90 212 914 1725
- Opening hours: Sun – Sat, 7:00 – 23:00
- More information about the coffee house: http://www.lattascoffee.com/
Settled near the Istanbul’s most famous pedestrian street Istiklal Caddesi, this café is located on a ground floor of the Meroddi Galata Mansion hotel. The street itself is quiet and seems like it’s not near a tourist zone. On the outside, beside the entrance, are two big glass doors that can be open.
Waiters are friendly, professional and the service is fast and pleasant. You can be sure that they are eager to help. Even if you were asking them to give you a recipe for a meal you like, they would do it without a problem.
On the inside, they have a cozy space, with interesting decorations on the brick walls. Their couches are really comfortable and will make you want to stay there all day.
This café has a 3rd generation of brewing technique, that produces balanced espresso blend made of African and South American coffees. Besides that, they offer all the usual beverages like traditional and iced coffee. There is also an option for a takeaway coffee that does not cost extra.
Since they are near the hotel, they also offer tasty meals like pasta and salads. When you are done with them, you can try some of their delicious cookies or desserts. Also, their hot chocolate is made from scratch and has a higher percentage of cocoa butter for a sweeter flavor.
- Address: Katip Mustafa Celebi Mah. Istiklal Cad No:15 / Taksim, Istanbul 34430, Turkey
- Telephone: +90 212 243 7129
- More information about the coffee house: http://en.espressolab.com.tr/
When you see this café from the outside, it looks more like a steampunk museum or laboratory with a couple of outside tables.
But once you go inside, you will be greeted with a modern looking café. It is a lot more spacious than the front will suggest, so don’t worry about finding a table. Since it has more than one floor, you can even sit on the upper one and enjoy the nice view while sipping on your coffee.
Their baristas are well-trained and come from different parts of the world. They can make great coffees and will make them in a blink of an eye, although not as communicative as expected.
Since they own a café chain (they have locations in multiple countries), you can bet that the coffee quality will be top-notch. They offer six types of espresso alone and a variety of different coffees. If you want to try something that is not espresso, go with the cortado or flat white (with organic milk). With a classic brewing process, they will provide a true taste and aroma of a strong coffee.
Besides coffee, on their menu can be found things like hot chocolate, lemonades and sweet cakes that go well with coffee (like tiramisu).
7. Noir Pit Coffee
- Address: Mesrutiyet Cad No:109/A AsmalImescit, Beyoglu, Istanbul, Turkey
- Telephone: +90 212 245 8086
- Opening hours: Mon – Sat, 7:30 – 22:30
- More information about the coffee house: http://www.noirpit.com/
As you get close to the Noir Pit, you will notice its modern design. There are small trees planted in front and around the café giving it a unique look. It manages to blend a fresh mix of urban and natural styles.
Inside of it is done in same fashion, from hats hanging on the walls to ceiling lights that look like golden drops. The whole café is on two floors and have a nice cheerful vibe to it. Unfortunately, the staff is not as helpful as some of the other ones, so that is why this café is not a bit higher on the list.
They can make a good coffee but seems like they lost interest in the job they are doing. The great thing about the coffee is that you can choose alternative methods of brewing. They have a good selection of coffee beans like: Sumatran (Slowly roasted to a deep color to develop its rich chocolaty flavor and velvety aftertaste), Ethiopian (Roasted to create a heavy, strong brew with rich flavor and smooth aftertaste), Colombian (Washed in fresh water and prepared using traditional methods) and Colombian Decaf.
You can discover a combination that suits you the best and because it is not mass produced, this coffee’s flavor is always fresh and delicious.
6. Turk Alman Kitabevi & Café
- Address: Istiklal Caddesi, No: 237, Istanbul 34421, Turkey
- Telephone: +90 212 293 7731
- Opening hours: Sun – Sat, 9:00 – 22:00
- More information about the coffee house: http://www.tak.com.tr/
If you enjoy reading books while drinking coffee, this is the right place for you. On the first look, you would think that you are in Paris since the wooden tables with decorated metal chairs give a strong European vibe.
Interior is done to look like a cozy library with hundreds of books. You can sit in a chair or find a comfortable sofa and sip coffee while reading something. There is a great fireplace in the center of the room that makes this whole café seem like home.
Staff working here is really friendly and speak English, Turkish and German since it is a multicultural café. Service is faster if you go to the counter to order yourself. Plus side is that you will not be disturbed while reading or working on your laptop (yes, there is free wi-fi).
Their greatest beverage is traditionally served black Turkish coffee, with a square of Türk lokumu (Turkish sweet delight) that adds to its taste and charm. If that is too strong for your taste, you can find a variety of different coffees like espresso or cappuccino.
Other notable things to order are different kinds of smoothies, teas, cheesecakes and even sandwiches.
5. Cinili Cafe Grand Bazaar
- Address: Halicilar Caddesi, No:97 / Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
- Telephone: +90 212 520 9504
- Opening hours: Mon – Sat, 9:30 – 19:30
- More information about the coffee house: https://www.facebook.com/cinilicafekapalicarsi
As you walk through the crowded Grand Bazaar, you will notice this piece of heaven. With its colorful windows and neon lights, it is the example of the traditional Turkish café. There are more than enough tables in front of it, and they are all nicely decorated.
Inside is filled with different kind of items that add to the charm of this little cozy café. Walls of the interior are made of rock and give the feeling of a mystical cave filled with secrets. There’s also a lot of cloth pieces from all around the world to add to its atmosphere.
Two of the people who work here are actually a couple that will give you a warm welcome. Their service is fast and you just might end up with a friendly chat about the history and some of the city landmarks.
As it is a traditional Turkish café, you should try their delicious black coffee. You can expect strong and distinct traditional flavor, that coffee fans will adore. Of course, there are also tasty cappuccinos with nice details like hearts and plants made of foam in the cup.
Beside meals that are presented beautifully, you can try homemade baklava that will make your mouth water just by seeing it. All the other sweets are also tasty and of the highest quality.
4. Coffee Brew Lab
- Address: Kuloglu Mahallesi, Yeni Carsi Caddesi no. 5B, Beyoglu, Istanbul
- Telephone: +90 212 244 7089
- Opening hours: Sun – Thu, 7:30 – 22:00; Fri – Sat, 7:30 – 00:00
- More information about the coffee house: http://www.coffeebrewlab.com/
Outside of the café has a simple and modern design. There is a small terrace with a couple of potted plants for aesthetic reasons. It is open even during the winter since it can be heated.
Interior is spacious and well organized. Chairs are comfortable and you can find modern paintings on the wall that fit perfectly with the whole theme of the place. Don’t let the simplicity of this café fool you because inside you will find a huge selection of coffees. They probably have all the third wave coffee brewing options, from syphon to chemex.
Among them is not so popular First press coffee, which is made by slowly dripping cold, filtered water through the lightly roasted ground coffee. It takes a couple of hours to be prepared, but it retains the flavors of coffee beans without the acidic oils that can be typically found.
The whole staff is professional in every aspect related to coffee. Probably because the manager of this café is Ozkan Yetik, three times Turkish Barista Champion. Beside their professionalism, they are always friendly and cheerful.
Their own handmade porcelain gives this whole place a lot of character. Not a lot of food on the menu, but that is okay because after all, this is Coffee Brew Lab.
3. Brew Coffee Works
- Address: Hobyar Mah. Hamidiye Cad. No: 64/16 | Fatih, Istanbul 34112, Turkey
- Telephone: +90 212 512 1986
- Opening hours: Sun – Sat, 7:00 – 22:00
- More information about the coffee house: http://www.brewcoffeeworks.com
Located near the Grand Bazaar and Galata bridge, Brew Coffee Works is one of the most popular and oldest cafés in the city. It has adorable blue wooden frames, old fashioned store windows, and a chalkboard with adverts about espresso styles they make. It just makes you wanna take a newspaper and read it inside while slowly sipping your coffee.
The first thing you will notice about the interior is that the main theme of the place is in colors blue and white. Everything from tables, chairs to the counter is in the appropriate color. It is all done with care and attention to details. On the shelves, you can find different kinds of coffee brewers to help add to the charm.
Since it is old-school, you can expect a friendly welcome into the café. Baristas are talented and well trained, so don’t be surprised when you find a foam shaped dog or an elephant in your cup of espresso.
They offer many different coffees and are all prepared with care. Like most of the cafés, they as well use third wave coffee brew (like chemex and aeropress). They are proud about their superb flat whites and lattes. Their Turkish coffee is served in authentic Turkish sets, which is a nice touch.
Additionally, you can order a variety of snacks like pastry and cheesecakes.
- Address: ArpacIlar Caddesi No 4, Istanbul, Turkey
- Telephone: +90 212 522 6177
- Opening hours: Sun – Sat, 7:00 – 21:00
- More information about the coffee house: http://www.coffeetopia.com.tr/
Even though Coffeetopia is an Australian brand, it has gained a lot of popularity in Istanbul. It is located, near the Galata bridge and is easily accessible.
It’s bright red brick walls and a row of red flowers on the first floor give this café a certain homey feeling.
Inside the café, you will find shelves with brewing stations on them and description about the processes of making certain types of coffee. They also have some shelves with books and if you think that it is too much, you are wrong. Everything inside this place looks like it belongs together.
The staff is superb and well-trained. If you are not a usual coffee drinker and doesn’t know what to try, just ask and they will give you the best advice. Even if you are a coffee lover and have a specific request, they will be happy to lend you a hand. Service is not the fastest, but that has to do with the high traffic of people going to the café.
Their coffee products are of the highest quality and will satisfy all your energetic needs. On the roster, they have all the classic types like cappuccino or espresso. While you are there, try one of their specials like the Black Eye (it is made by putting two shots of espresso into a filter coffee mug) or an even stronger option, the Dead Eye.
This place is a true coffee junkie paradise and should not be missed.
- Address: Olivia Gecidi No: 1/A, Beyoglu, Istanbul, Turkey
- Opening hours: Sun – Sat, 9:30 – 00:00
- More information about the coffee house: www.tripadvisor.co.uk
This café is the true jewel of the Istanbul and is positioned in the Istiklal Caddesi street. It has survived for the past couple of decades, which is a no small task.
It is a small place, with a number of outdoor and indoor tables, with ashtrays set up. There is not a lot of décor, a couple of pictures, but it is not necessary. The aroma of fresh coffee is the only décor you will need, and there is no lack of it.
This is a family owned café and is probably the main reason for its great success. Very friendly people who run their business traditionally. The owner Cimil Pilik knows his coffee well and should be listened when giving related advice. After so many years in the business, it is no wonder that he knows everything there is to be known about Turkish coffee.
In Mandabatmaz, you can see the traditional preparation process of the Turkish coffee. Cimil uses “cezve” to create the unique Turkish coffee flavor. They do not serve other types of coffees, but you can find them in a lot of other places, while true Turkish Kahveh is hard to come by.
If you do not drink coffee, you should try famous Turkish black Tea, also served in this amazing café.
It can be considered a great landmark of Turkish culture that offers great insight into Turkish beverage culture.
Cafés in Istanbul have become more than just a place to drink coffee. In its own way, they have become part of the tourist attraction since coffee is an important part of the Turkish culture. Most of the cafés manage to create an excellent blend of modern and traditional design.
In combination with natural Turkish hospitality and production quality, you get one memorable coffee experience. Some cafés have been open for many years and now also give us insight into the country’s trade history.
In Istanbul, you can find all kind of different coffee sorts, but traditional Turkish coffee will always be the most popular one. It can stay on par with the rest of them, because of its specific aroma and easy to learn, hard to master style of preparation. Currently, it has become integral and highly sought after, not just in Istanbul or Turkey, but the rest of the world as well.
If you are interested in other cultures and different coffee shops, we recommend you to read our Top 10 Cafés of Manila article, where our journey reaches the Philippines.