Festival highlights Turkey’s growing love of coffee

By Meryem Goktas

ANKARA (AA) – Coffee lovers converged on the Turkish capital Friday for a good cup of brew.

The Ankara coffee festival, now in its third year, brings together the leading brands and tastes of the third-generation coffee trend, professional baristas from the region, design products, live music performances and seminars and workshops.

With its long history in Turkey, coffee has always had a place in local households.

"Coffee means for me a friendship on sleepless nights while I'm studying," said Pelin, a student who attended the first day of the festival.

With the spread of coffee shops across the country, the society’s taste for coffee expanded from a Turkish cup of coffee to freshly brewed coffees prepared by experienced baristas.

Hulya Aktag, a lifestyle blogger, said coffee for her means addiction, happiness and something that helps her calm down.

"If I don’t drink one or two Turkish coffees per day, I get a headache," she added.

"It’s especially nice to have a cup of coffee before you go to classes, and the chats which come along with it are also very nice," said Ege Polat, a law student.

With different beans from regions across the world, coffee is not only a drink but also an international taste experience.

"I feel like the soil of different countries across the world comes to me when I’m drinking coffee," said Gamze, another student.

-Increasing demand in Turkey

Ihsan Cilsal, co-founder of Kafeingo, an online coffee provider, said demand for coffee in Turkey has risen over the past few years.

Cilsal said Kafeingo is Turkey’s first subscription-based internet coffee sales website.

He said Kafeingo operates as an online platform with nearly 15,000 subscribers and is now in its fourth year.

Customers can personalize their orders by choosing coffee from different regions, the amount and whether they want beans or grounded coffee.

Noting that some beans are directly traded from local farmers abroad, Cilsal said the platform offers beans from a variety of countries such as El Salvador, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Colombia.

While demand for coffee has risen over the years, the barista preparing it plays a large role in how it tastes.

Baristas not only serve coffee but pour their passion into the process of preparing it.

The serving of coffee from the hands of a barista often looks like an art show, which is why coffee lovers often prefer not only their favorite shops for a good coffee but also their favorite baristas.

Sena Turkmen, a medical student from Ankara, said that to get a good coffee, its brewing process plays an important role.

"It‘s not just coffee. It‘s an experience, and having it specially chosen for your taste and the mood you are in at the moment, from a variety of beans grounded and hand-brewed by someone who puts just enough amount of love, passion and effort into it makes it even more special. It makes it automatically taste better, if you ask me," she said.

"Good coffee can have enough impact to make your day slightly better," she added.

Baran, a barista at Petra Roasting Cooperation — who served brewed coffee to guests at the festival — said it is important to be passionate about coffee.

Speaking about the flavor of coffee and the meaning of finding your personal preference, Baran said it is important to taste as much coffee as possible.

Erdem Aksoy, co-founder of Tetra N Coffee Shop, said coffee festivals are important for introducing small businesses to people.

"Coffee festivals are very important for third-generation coffee shops like us who want to showcase themselves," he said.

The coffee industry's finest producers, importers, coffee machine manufacturers and baristas are represented at the Ankara coffee festival with 90 stalls.

The three-day festival — organized by Dream Sales Machine — kicked off Friday.

The festival, which features 90 brands, is being held at Bilkent Station shopping mall.

Around 8,500 coffee lovers attended the 2016 edition of the event, while the festival hosted over 15,000 visitors in 2017.

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