Istanbul's Coffee Festival
Turkey's celebration of coffee returns to Istanbul this fall
In 1555, after journeying for weeks two Syrian traders, Shams of Damascus, and Hakem of Aleppo, arrived in Istanbul. They settled close to the silver waters of the Golden Horn and opened the city’s first coffee house in the Tahtakale district.
By the mid-17th century, coffee had become an essential part of the Ottoman Court’s elaborate ceremonies, with 40 coffee-makers on hand to prepare a brew for the sultan. The coffee ritual also played a role in marriage customs to an extent that women in the harem received thorough training regarding how the perfect brew was to be prepared.
As such,Turkish men selected a wife based on their coffee-making skills. Even today, when a prospective husband’s family asks for the girl’s parents for her hand in marriage, Turkish coffee is served by the bride-to-be.
Five centuries later, Turkish coffee (Türk kahvesi) continues to celebrated, with an mix ofkahvehans (traditional coffeehouses) and hip coffee bars. Furthermore, this September, the smell of freshly-brewed coffee will take over the capital as the Istanbul Coffee Festival returns to the city for the fifth time.
One of Europe's biggest coffee festivals, the four-day event highlights Istanbul’s rich cultural diversity, bringing together speciality coffee from across the world. Tens of thousands of caffeine lovers and connoisseurs will once again descend to try different blends and brews alongside learning about the latest roasting and brewing technology.
Showcasing the journey from the humble bean to an expertly-frothed cup ‘o joe, there will be different coffee experiences and the chance to take part in tasting workshops and professional coffee brewing sessions. There will also be seminars related to coffee, live performances and talks with coffee experts and the world’s leading baristas.
Global producers and coffee machine manufacturers as well as brewers, retailers, coffee bars, chocolatiers and boutique coffee shop owners from across the globe will be on hand to introduce the latest trends in all things coffee.
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One of the many highlights is the Turkish Coffee Championship. Contestants compete in five categories: Barista, Latte Art, Coffee Brewing, Coffee Roasting, and Coffee Pot Making.
To accompany the coffee, there are stalls aplenty, serving an enticing selection of delicious Turkish delicacies, includingsucculent kebabs, flavoursome mezes and freshly caught fish which are the city's signature dishes. Performances from an exciting line-up of local artists and bands make for excellent entertainment.
The first annual Istanbul Coffee Festival took place at Galata Greek School. Since then, the festival has grown and now takes place in KucukCiftlik Park, which doubles up as a concert hall with the likes of Joss Stone, Enrique Iglesias, and Lana Del Rey.
When festival goers have had their fill of coffee, there is plenty to explore in KucukCiftlik Park and the surrounding areas, which are home to many wonderful shops. Alongside bags of coffee, visitors can snap up fine Turkish clothing, authentic rugs and exquisite carpets that are only made in Turkey.
Either way, when it comes to drinking coffee, the most important part is to channel the Turkish philosophy ofkeyif – taking life easy.
The Istanbul Coffee Festival runs from 20th-23rd September 2019.