According to the chronicles of historian İbrahim Peçevi, the first coffee house in Istanbul opened in the 1640s. Today café culture is part of the fabric of life in the city: indeed, the Turkish word for breakfast, kahvalti, means ‘before coffee’. Recognised by Unesco as part of the country’s cultural legacy, Turkish coffee is a must-try during your trip. Made by simmering roasted and ground beans in a cezve pot, the coffee is served black in a small cup where the grounds can settle. Add sugar if you wish, and sip slowly. Istanbul’s cafés offer a variety of picturesque settings in which to enjoy Turkish coffee; here are some of our favourites.
Van Kahvalti Evi
Known for its breakfasts, which feature a delectable array of dishes with an Iranian influence, Van Kahvaltı Evi is also a great place to pause for a cup of tea or coffee. Come early and hungry and accompany your hot beverage with gözleme (flatbreads filled with meat, potatoes or cheese), jajı (yoghurt and goat’s cheese dip), cheeses, meats and aubergine pancakes. The café takes its name from the Turkish city of Van, situated near the border with Iran, and is the best place to sample delicious regional cuisine.
Van Kahvaltı Evi, Kılıç Ali Paşa Mahallesi, Defterdar Yokuşu 52A, Cihangir, +90 (0)212 293 6437
Backyard is a fashionable café and eatery that offers style as well as substance, serving home-cooked food from international brunch dishes such as French toast and eggs Benedict to local favourites. The café prides itself on using seasonal and organic ingredients for the best flavours possible. Turkish coffee is available, as well as a selection of espressos, cappuccinos and the like. If you’re stopping for an afternoon pick-me-up be sure to sample one of the delicious bakes on offer.
Backyard Istanbul, Otlukbeli Caddesi, Bebeköy Sokak 4, Etiler, +90 (0)212 287 1500
White Mill Café
The stunning, shady outdoor seating area at the White Mill Café is the perfect place to escape the midday sun and enjoy a bite to eat and a drink. Be sure to order something from the delectable selection of desserts to accompany your coffee. The strawberry mille-feuille with kaymak (clotted cream) and mascarpone and the warm chocolate cake with sour cherry sauce and ice cream are particular highlights.
White Mill Café, Susam Sokak 13, Beyoğlu, +90 (0)212 292 2895
Pierre Loti Café
For a brew with a view take the cable car up to the Pierre Loti Café in the Eyüp neighbourhood, which boasts stunning panoramic views of the Golden Horn. The café is named after the French novelist who frequented this spectacular spot and the décor and waiter’s uniforms have a 19th-century feel, complete with fez hats. The Turkish coffee here is brewed on hot coals for an added touch of tradition. Snap up a terrace table for the best views.
Pierre Loti Café, Eyüp Merkez, Gümüşsuyu Caddesi, Balmumcu Sokak, Eyüp, +90 (0)212 581 2696