Turkey could be considered the home of the very first wave of coffee. Coffee drinking proliferated in Turkey at the end of the 15th century, and Turkish coffee culture is even recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Now, millennia after coffee’s first wave began, the third wave in coffee has reached Turkey. The third wave of coffee is a movement dedicated to producing high quality coffee throughout the coffee-production process, from bean to cup. In the third wave coffee movement, coffee is prized as an artisanal food product on par with wine. These new coffee shops, featuring a variety of bean and brew options, have just begun popping up in Turkey, leaving some wondering how the third wave will impact the age-old Turkish coffee brewing method.
According to Arab news outlet Al Arabiya, American-style third wave coffee shops Drip Coffee Ist and Ministry of Coffee are the first of their kind in Turkey. Both Istanbul-based coffee shops feature a variety of beans and brew methods, and both are proving to be popular. Selcuk Turunc, the co-founder of Drip Coffee Ist, said Arab tourists in particular are "open to new coffee tastes."
It can't be easy making inroads in a country with a centuries-long coffee history, but the proprietors of Istanbul's third wave coffee shops don't consider the new coffee options an alternative to the Turkish coffee tradition. A coffee drinker in Istanbul, Serdar Unlu, told Al Arabiya, “When I was introduced to the third wave coffee I stopped drinking from the coffee chains and drink only third wave-style espresso and Turkish coffee. While I switched from granular coffee to second wave coffee and from second wave coffee to artisan espressos, I never stopped drinking Turkish coffee and don’t think I ever will.”
The two methods of coffee appreciation are certainly not mutually exclusive, though they differ in a few key areas. Historically, Turkish coffee is about the ritual of boiling finely ground coffee in a traditional cezve (Turkish coffee pot) and serving the coffee with something sweet. The quality of the coffee beans usually comes second to the method of preparation and serving. In fact, the Turkish coffee you'll find in Turkey more likely than not uses low quality coffee beans. In clear contrast, the third wave coffee movement values coffee bean quality and the taste of the finished product above all.
Turkey's newest coffee shops can easily find common ground with Turkish coffee drinkers loyal to traditional Turkish coffee by using the high quality beans essential to the current coffee ethos to prepare Turkish coffee in the time-tested, unfiltered brew method. It may be about time that the very first wave of coffee got the third wave treatment.