Petra Roasting Co. noticed that while coffee had its traditions in Istanbul, in more recent history it still lagged behind in many respects. Petra Roasting was one of Turkey’s first coffee roasters and in our humble opinion, one of Istanbul’s best roasters. Indeed, they were the first to introduce the now vehemently popular third-wave/generation coffee roasters.
In 2013, they opened shop in the middle of Istanbul’s Gayrettepe neighbourhood – a seemingly random location. In fact, when we first saw the “shop” it was like staring at a unicorn: beautiful and rare.
The Gayrettepe location is the company’s headquarters and evidently where the roasting operation is conducted, packaged and delivered to a number of coffee shops throughout the city. It’s a large, open space where guests and kitchen staff are separated by a waist-high repurposed pallet counter. While the cement floors and columns could make the space look fairly industrial, the delicate chandeliers and tables counteract any of the feeling. Anyone walking in can see (almost) everything going on, including the staff ever-so coolly running behind the counter, moving trays of croissants, cracking eggs, assembling sandwiches (that are just the right temperature and height), and more. Moreover, the people behind the counter actually make eye contact and welcome any customer with a smile. They genuinely seem like they want to be there.
Now, for the coffee. Co-founder Kaan Bergsen approaches coffee with his background in mixology. That is, rather than focusing on the perfect the perfect cup (and it is very close), Bergsen says they look for the best bean. Moreover, Petra makes it a point to import the coffee rather than buy it from other Turkish importers. It seems that the innovative team behind the roasting has a hand in nearly every aspect of the coffee making experience, sometimes reaching as far as the producers of the selected beans – much like a chef visits a farm. And, it shows.
They started with the following three 100% Arabica beans: Sidamo, Ethiopia; San Agustin, Colombia; and Brazilian origin. That said, Bergsen and partner Can Duna emphasise a philosophy based on taste rather than name or origin. Meaning the pair has more freedom in choosing and craft a flavour portfolio. So, while origin-based approaches are welcomed, this one allows a more thoughtful and controlled process.
Four years later, Petra has two other locations, all of which are very different from one another. The only thing that remains a constant within these shops is, of course, the coffee. Thank goodness. In the hyper-corporate lands of the very good looking Levent neighbourhood, Petra brilliantly opened a kiosk on the upper ground floor of Kanyon shopping center. The kiosk fits in well with its surrounding; a small, to-the-point coffee station with a couple of display cases for the food. There are a couple of stools to the side of the wood kiosk. And during 8- 9 am, lunching hours, and those following 5.30 pm, the staff behind the counter seem to grow a couple of extra arms, working at the speed of light to get the never-ending queue. It moves fast. These people are in a hurry.
Their third location in Istanbul, like their others, blends in perfectly with its surroundings: Topağacı. Over the last couple of years, the area has attracted a lot of attention from the cool-shoe toting (with all respect) of the food and drink scene in Istanbul. Efendi, MOC, Mom’s, Kozmonot are just a couple of great places to get anything from a cocktail to a great scone. Now joining them is the likes of Petra. However, unlike the headquarters and Kanyon locations, this branch looks nothing like an industrial loft or a small utilitarian kiosk. Rather, when you walk in, I was reminded of the old Inci Pastanesi. The shop is relatively narrow and long. And while it is not decked out with a Inci-like mirror, it does have a bench that runs along the opposite of the **be-au-ti-ful** wood bar. Every marble-topped table is fitted with a folded paper menu and a small dried flower bouquet. If it weren’t for the old-timey whimsical music, the shop could be mistaken for a moment in Nişantası during the 1950’s. It is nostalgic. Yes. But the shop as well as everything that is Petra can hold its weight.
Petra Roasting is a brand, yes, with several branches. Unlike other branding strategies, Petra is not concerned about stamping its image everywhere its name is. The brains behind these operations don’t seem to care about inserting themselves into various neighbourhoods. Instead, it seems as though the company chose to celebrate the mahalle (neighbourhood).
Petra Roasting Co. Headquarters
Hoşsohbet Sk. 1 Gayrettepe/İstanbul
t: 0212 356 10 53
Kanyon AVM Büyükdere entrance
Buyukdere Caddesi No:185 Levent, İstanbul
t: 0212 317 5330
Akat Mahallesi, Murakıp Sk.