Unveiling Istanbul’s Cafes: Savoring Brews, Views, and Turkish Delights

Welcome to the enchanting world of Istanbul’s vibrant café culture, where every cup of coffee tells a story, and every corner echoes with the warmth of Turkish hospitality. Istanbul, the city that connects East to West, boasts a café scene that seamlessly blends tradition with contemporary charm. Did you know that Istanbul is the birthplace of the coffee shop? 

This is a journey through Istanbul’s cafés to find a taste of rich Turkish coffee, also a sip into the soul of this city. Join us as we navigate the cobblestone streets and uncover the treasures that await in the heart of Istanbul. From historic coffee houses steeped in tales of the past to modern gems cafés. 

Table of Contents

Coffee Culture in Istanbul

In Istanbul, coffee is more than a drink; it’s a ritual, a conversation starter, and a symbol of shared moments. The city’s coffee culture seamlessly blends tradition with modernity, offering a diverse range of coffee experiences for enthusiasts.

Historical Cafés: Where Time Meets Taste

In this city that breathes history, the cages are not just a place to enjoy a coffee; they are living chapters in the story of Istanbul’s cultural tapestry.

Istanbul is considered the origin of the coffee shop. The first coffeehouse on record opened in Istanbul in the 1550s. Two merchants from Damascus, who brought beans from the Arabian Peninsula, were owners of the coffeehouse. Coffeehouses in Constantinople were places for people to drink coffee, meet, do business, and discuss politics, arts, and literature. Coffee’s success and integration into Ottoman culture were finally given by the coffeehouses kahvehane. 

İsmail Ağa Coffee House

İsmail Ağa Coffee House, located in Kanlıca, Istanbul, is a historic and tranquil place with a rich heritage. Founded in 1870 by Rize0 based İsmail Ağa, the coffeehouse has been visited by prominent figures such as Mustafa Kemel Atatür and İsmet İnönü. It is known for its famous Kanlıca yogurt and has been modernized to fit the 21st century. The place is also known for its finest Turkish coffee.

Hazzopulo Passage

Hazzopulo Passage, located in Beyoğlu, Istanbul, is a historic arcade built between 1850-1871. It is known for its central courtyard and its connection between Istiklal Street and Mesrutiyet Street. The passage is a popular destination with a rich history, featuring a variety of shops and vendors. 


Mandabatmaz, a small outdoor café located in Beyoğlu, Istanbul, is renowned for serving the best Turkish coffee in the city. Tucked away in an alley from the main tourist street, it offers a substantial menu of coffee and tea selections, making it a lovely old-school spot for coffee enthusiasts.

Asmali Kahve (Firuz Ağa Tea Garden)

Asmali Kahve, also known as Firuz Ağa Tea Garden, is a café located in Firuzağa neighborhood of Beyoğlu, Istanbul. It is known for its outdoor seating area and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The café offers a variety of coffee and tea selections, and visitors can enjoy their drinks while taking in the charming atmosphere of the neighborhood.

Turkish Coffee Experience

Traditional Coffeehouses

Traditional coffeehouses, also known as “kahvehane” have been an integral part of Turkish culture for centuries. These establishments are social hubs where people gather to engage in conversations, play games, and enjoy traditional Turkish coffee or tea. They are often characterized by a relaxed and unhurried atmosphere, making them ideal for socializing and unwinding. 

The coffee, served in a petite cup, leaves a layer of sediment settled at the bottom and beside the coffee. Turkish coffee is typically accompanied by a small sweet morsel, such as a piece of “lokum” (Turkish delight), and a glass of water on the side.

Modern Cafes

Istanbul’s cafe culture is always changing, and contemporary cafes are adding their own unique touch to the classic Turkish coffee experience. With a modern twist on this traditional libation, these places embrace innovation without compromising legacy. Every cup of coffee in this city tells a story, from its creative presentation to its flavorful blend. It’s a story of a city that’s always looking to the future but never forgets its past.

Baristas skillfully blend traditional preparation methods with creative twists, introducing variations of coffee or cold brew. The ambiance in these cafes is often a harmonious blend of modern aesthetics and cultural elements.

In Istanbul, drinking Turkish coffee is a journey through time. You’ll taste the history of this beloved beverage, while also experiencing the city’s modern take on coffee culture. Every sip is a celebration of Istanbul’s rich coffee heritage.

Cozy Atmospheres: Rooftop Escapes and Hidden Havens

Rooftop Cafes: A Glimpse from the Top

  • Seven Hills is a rooftop restaurant that offers breathtaking views over the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum, and the Bosphorus. It’s a popular place for enjoying breakfast, and dinner or drinking coffee while enjoying the stunning vistas.
  • Nova şantiye cafe is a cage located below the Suleymaniye Mosque, offering a beautiful panoramic view of the Bosphorus. The cafe is known for its picturesque setting, and this is a great spot to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery.
  • Sarayburnu Çay Bahçesi is a tea garden offering a stunning view of the city. It is known for its charming ambiance and delightful setting. Visitors can savor a variety of teas while taking in the panoramic views of the Bosphorus.

Hidden Gems: Unveiling Quaint Cafes

Kronotrop Coffee Kronotrop is a coffee bar and roastery located in the Cihangir neighborhood of Istanbul. It is known for its specialty coffee offerings and is considered a pioneer in the specialty coffee scene in Istanbul. The cafe offers a variety of coffee blends, equipment, accessories, and subscriptions.

PEOPLE Nişantaşı is a cafe known for its Turkish cuisine, including pies, pasta, fruitcakes, and cheesecakes. It also offers a variety of coffee options. This coffee offers a perfect view of Nişantaşı neighborhood. 

 Espressolab Roastery is Europe’s largest coffee experiences center. It combines a coffee shop, roasting workshop, and bakery operations under one roof. 

Petra Coffee Roasting  in Gayrettepe is a prominent coffee roastery known for its commitment to sourcing and roasting high-quality coffee beans to provide a unique coffee experience. This place is renowned for its espresso and 3rd generation coffee like Cemex and Hario V60.

Turkish Desserts and Pastries: Sweet Symphony

Join in the deliciousness of Turkish desserts and pastries at Istanbul’s cafes. Istanbul’s cafes offer the country’s rich cookery, each of them telling a story of tradition and craftsmanship.

  • Baklava: A rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.
  • Turkish Delight (Lokum): A confection made from starch and sugar, often flavored with rosewater, mastic, or lemon.
  • Künefe: A traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with thin noodle-like pastry, soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, and layered with cheese, often served hot.
  • Şekerpare: Small, sweet, and tender cookies made from semolina and drenched in sweet, fragrant syrup.
  • Revani: A semolina sponge cake soaked in simple syrup, often flavored with lemon

Bosphorus-Side Cafes

Some of the best coffee shops beside the Bosphorus in Istanbul include:

  1. The House Cafe: This cafe is located in Ortaköy and offers a beautiful view of the Bosphorus. It is known for its great coffee and food, and it has received positive reviews from visitors.
  2. Nevmekan Sahil: This cafe is located in Üsküdar and is considered a hidden gem in Istanbul. It offers a lovely vibe and a beautiful view of the Bosphorus.
  3. Espressolab Roastery: This coffee shop is located in Bebek and offers a unique coffee experience. It is known for its artisanal approach to coffee roasting and its commitment to quality.
  4. Chado Tea Shop: This cafe is located in Beşiktaş and is known for its great food, amazing drinks, and lovely vibe. It offers a unique cafe experience and is a must-visit coffee shop in Istanbu

Practical Tips: Easily Navigating Istanbul’s Cafe Culture

  • Seating Arrangements: In some cafes, you might find tables that are shared by multiple people. Don’t be afraid to sit at one of these tables—it’s pretty common and a great way to meet new people.
  • Respecting Space: Istanbul cafes are often small and crowded, so you might be closer to other people than you’re used to. Don’t be weirded out by it, just embrace the close quarters and enjoy the company.
  • Mobile Devices: While some modern cafes supply to digital nomads, in traditional settings, it’s respectful to keep your phone usage to a minimum, especially in crowded spaces.
  • Tipping: Tipping is appreciated, but not forced. It’s customary to round up the bill or leave a small percentage for excellent service.