Kensington. Beverly Hills. The Upper East Side. Every city has a neighborhood that denotes wealth, privilege, and luxury. Although Istanbul’s upper crust has left the city center in droves in recent decades, the historic Nişantaşı neighborhood, with its fashion houses and Art Deco apartment blocks, still occupies a certain place of distinction in the Istanbul landscape. But there’s more to Nişantaşı than Range Rovers driven by private chauffeurs idling outside the Louis Vuitton store (though you will see Range Rovers driven by private chauffeurs idling outside the Louis Vuitton store). The neighborhood is also home to perhaps the highest concentration of specialty coffee shops in the city.
Specialty coffee, after all, is a luxury good, a fact felt more acutely in a country like Turkey, where the going rate for a pour-over or espresso is almost identical to Western Europe or America, but the median income is considerably lower. But these cafes are not simply the haunts of the bored bourgeois. Much like any specialty coffee shop hub, Nişantaşı’s booming specialty coffee scene provides a place the city’s growing creative class can find a place to work, or take a cheeky break with a cortado and a slice of cake.
From hair salons to coworking spaces, Petra Coffee is everywhere in Istanbul, and for good reason. The roaster/retailer was one of the early champions of quality, and has slowly created one of the strongest brands in Turkish specialty coffee. But visit their Topağacı location and you don’t need to know any of that—you’ll just find a great neighborhood cafe.
Whether it’s the wooden newspaper holders or the century-old antique bar, the interior of Petra feels timeless, perhaps more Parisian than Turkish. Marble and cast iron tables line a bench that runs the length of the shotgun-shaped space. Baristas wear Petra’s trademark striped shirts and white lab coats, and ring a bell every time an order is up, short-order-diner-style.
House-baked pastries are shuttled over daily from Petra’s Gayrettepe headquarters, along with, of course, an extensive selection of single-origin coffees, including famed estates like Finca Tamana in Colombia. Espresso, always a single origin, is prepared on a La Marzocco Strada EP and Mazzer Robur grinder. Petra is also one of the few places you’ll find doing a full size batch brew on a FETCO brewer, a luxury in an espresso-centric specialty coffee scene.