Many good-looking places that have sprung up in our charmingly seedy quarter – Zucca, Ada, Oplevelse are among just a few names. But, Karl’s Coffee separates itself from the rest. Here, you will find no wood panelling of third-wave aesthetics and very few man-ankles (you know the kind). The shop looks tiny. And, too be fair, it is tiny when you consider all that is going on beneath the surface – Kurtuluş’s own coffee roasting operation.
Unlike so many store fronts pulling you in with deafening colour and/or intimidating customers, Karl’s hand-drawn Star Wars greetings by the window is nothing but welcoming. Step inside and you’ll immediately notice the giant graffiti of the old man smoking and hanging with his pooch. Opposite the mural is a great, framed poster-like rendition of Star Wars. Straight ahead, passed the few tables, is a tiny book exchange and the coffee bar. More than likely that is where you will find Rafi, Karl’s founder and show runner.
At the beginning of 2016, Rafi found himself working in one Cihangir’s many coffee shops. It was his time spent there that truly brewed his interest in the ways of the Coffea. Like so many others that year, the shop closed six months later. But, this young coffee enthusiast took advantage of the free time to hone his coffee roasting skills and decided to set up his own operation. Rafi started the search for the venue, which happened to be the empty spot underneath his apartment. As he explains it, sometimes people have difficulty seeing what is in front of them. His first aim was to get his roasts on the market. And, with every passing day it seems that his blends and brews are reaching a wider audience. So much so, he is even thinking of targeting an international market.
If you are in Kurtuluş and in need of some beans, Karl’s Coffee is your place. Indeed, the operation here is heavily focused on the coffee. There are few, albeit delicious, snacks – and most of the time they are served alongside your coffee order. If you are hungry, Karl’s may not be right for you in that moment. Grab a bite and top it off with a coffee and a sweet. Order a barista drink and it will be perfect. Have a filtered coffee and Rafi will give you a well calculated “pour-over.” Also, perfect. What Karl’s lacks in grub, is certainly compensated in its coffee. And isn’t that the point?
Alone or with a friend, it seems that all types from the neighborhood are popping in from the teyzes to the gym buffs to the unworthy blog writer. That said, Karl’s is sincerely all about the coffee.
Have a chat with Rafi and ask about his latest roasts. He knows his stuff and he’s never steered us wrong.
So, having said all this, who the hell is Karl West?
Karl’s Coffee Roastery
Bilezikçi Sokak No. 54
Pangaltı, Şişli, Istanbul
t: 0530 065 94 63
Hours: Everyday, 11am-11pm (sometimes midnight)