About Turkish Coffee and the Most Popular Coffee Shop in Istanbul, Mandabatmaz

*Featured photo by Tolga Ugur

Essentials about Turkish coffee

Turkish Coffee is one of the most vital elements of the Turkish culture. It differs from the other types of coffee we drink every day when it comes to the level of coffee beans are ground and the way it is brewed. The first coffee beans arrived to Anatolia more 500 years ago during the Ottoman era and the method that Turkish coffee is prepared has remained unchanged ever since. In UNESCO’s list of Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Turkish coffee was ranked among the 16 heritages in Turkey.

The place of Turkish coffee in daily life

It would not be inaccurate to say that Turkish coffee has staunchly made its way to the Turkish culture and became an inseparable piece of the daily life in Turkey: brides serve Turkish coffee to their future spouses and elders of family, and the taste of coffee (according to the tradition) shows their bridal skills, moreover, the marks and patterns that are left of Turkish coffee on the coffee cup are interpreted to come up with assumptions about the future of the person who drank it. As the Turks believe, a cup of Turkish coffee drunk with friends has a memory that is worth of forty years.

Coffee in the Turkish is “kahve”, and this word left its mark to the language very strongly: the color brown is “kahverengi” in Turkish which literally translates to “coffee color”, and, breakfast is “kahvaltı” which carries the meaning of eating something before having the first coffee of the day.

How is Turkish coffee brewed?

Despite the current trend of preparing Turkish coffee with coffee machines, Turkish coffee is traditionally brewed in artisanal copper pots named “cezve” that are used for that purpose only. Generally, a table spoon of Turkish coffee is put in the pot and a mug (Turkish coffee mug) of lukewarm water is added. Note that Turkish coffee is brewed in low fire. It is taken out of the stove when it is about boil. Once it is ready, Turkish coffee is slowly poured with its foamy top into the small coffee mug and served.

How to drink Turkish coffee?

Traditionally, alongside Turkish coffee, a glass of water and a piece of a Turkish delight is served. Water is to be had before sipping the coffee to clear the palate of the tongue in order to prepare your mouth to taste the rich coffee flavor fully. The Turkish delight is to balance the bitter taste of coffee.

The traditional way Turkish Coffee is served – photo by Tema

Mandabatmaz Turkish Coffee Shop

Where to have great Turkish coffee in Istanbul? There are plenty of answer to that question. However, there is only one answer if you ask about where to have the best Turkish coffee in Istanbul. Well, as the pretty much all the locals and travel guides say, it is the famous, historical and symbolic coffee shop of Mandabatmaz.

Mandabatmaz was founded in 1967 as a 10M² coffee shop. It has been serving as the most iconic and prominent coffee shop in Istanbul ever since. Ask anyone in the street where to have the best Turkish coffee, they will tell you to go to Mandabatmaz.

For 53 years, Mandabatmaz is where the rich smell of coffee spreads to Istiklal street, the most bustling pedestrian street in Istanbul. The name Mandabatmaz literally means “the buffalo that does not sink” in Turkish. The logic behind it is quite interesting: the foam of the coffee is so thick that even a buffalo would not sink in it. What makes this small coffee shop unique is the way they prepare their Turkish coffee. Adhering to traditional methods, Mandabatmaz uses copper pots to prepare coffee and brews the ground coffee seeds at 86C precisely.

This hole-in-the-wall, offers an authentic and a tranquil atmosphere to its visitors. A couple of stools and tables put alongside the wall, Mandabatmaz still reveres the old Ottoman style coffee shop layout.

A quick guide on ordering Turkish coffee

It does not matter if you speak Turkish or not, however, you should definitely once order Turkish coffee in Turkish. There are four simple terms used to order Turkish coffee: sade (without sugar), az şekerli (with a little sugar), orta (medium sugar), şekerli (with sugar).

A bunch of essential tips on coffee and brewing coffee by Mandabatmaz’s staff

1-Boiling the coffee too much will spoil the taste. Removing the coffee off the heat right before it reaches the boiling point (86 degrees is ideal) is the optimal way.

2-Brewing the coffee in low fire for too long will spoil the taste. In that case, the boiling water absorbs the taste too much.

3-The thickness to which the coffee is ground is essential. Seeds ground too thick or thin might not give the best result.

4-In order to see whether your coffee is freshly ground, put a teaspoon of coffee in a cup of water. After 5 minutes, if the coffee floats on the surface, it shows that the coffee is fresh. If the coffee sinks in water, it means that it is not fresh.

5-Drinking a cup of coffee every day strengthens your concentration. Endorphin and adrenalin induced by coffee increases your energy.

The walls of the shop are covered with news articles about Mandabatmaz – photo by Argun Konuk

Where is Mandabatmaz?

Mandabatmaz is located on the Olivia Pass, which is one of the dozens of small alleys merging with the bustling Istiklal Street. Mandabatmaz has outdoor seating as well with tables placed 1.5 meters apart from each other, so you can comfortably visit here.You  can visit Mandabatmaz every day between 9am and 11pm.

So pay a visit to Mandabatmaz to have the most unforgettable Turkish coffee you’ll have in Turkey. It is a great experience to taste an unchanged flavor that is older than 500 years at Istanbul’s most iconic coffee shop that has remained unchanged for 53 years.

Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a 25-year-old Turkish travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences in Turkey and different parts of the world!

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