Istanbul has been bursting with speciality coffee shops recently, and one of the places leading this charge is Petra Roasting co. in the Selenium apartment residence, just off Barbaros Bulvarı in Gayrettepe. Located inside the Muse Collective art gallery and shop, the space itself is just beautiful. While you enjoy your freshly roasted coffee, you can wander about and marvel at all sorts of cool objects, including an antique Mercedes Benz and a sailboat, along with many art pieces, most of which are for sale.
Kaan Bergsen founded Petra about a year ago, though his background in coffee started when he lived in New York after university. According to Bergsen, the idea of doing something in the food and beverages sector came to him when he drank a cocktail near his apartment in Brooklyn. Although the smell was stunning by itself, the taste of the beverage was completely different, but still very pleasant. He was hooked by the experience and that barman is still a very close friend of his. Speciality coffee had begun booming in New York at the time, and Bergsen wanted to see if it would be possible for him to achieve similar experiences in coffee.
Bergsen worked for Stumptown Coffee for a short time and then at Toby’s Estate, looking after quality control and wholesale accounts. It was also at Toby’s where he got most of his education in roasting. Working at Toby’s he realized that it’s not just about roasting great coffee, but sustaining its quality at wholesale partners who brew that coffee, by educating and supporting them to make great coffee too.
After returning to Turkey, Bergsen decided to start his own business focusing solely on roasting and wholesale. His goal from the beginning was to be the best at sourcing and roasting coffee to support his wholesale customers delivering in it in the best way. He underscores “we don’t want to be in the cafe business—our focus is roasting”. Which helps explain why the Petra shop is mainly a production facility, with only two long tables for seating.
Bergsen says his passion and plans are starting to bear fruit, with an expanding network of hotels, restaurants, and cafe clients. His talent for roasting also brought him 1st place at the SCAE Roasting Challenge in Turkey and 4th at the 2014 World Coffee Roasting Championship in Rimini, Italy.
In Petra’s shop they serve espresso prepared on a La Marzocco Strada—the first in Istanbul—along with Chemex and Hario V60 for filter coffee. Since the emphasis here is on roasting and tasting, they want to focus on a clean, clear brewing approach. For grinding; they use a Mahlkönig EK43 for filter coffee and Anfim grinders for espresso, with Petra recently becoming the official distributors for Anfim, Chemex, Baratza and Keep Cup in Istanbul.
Roasting is done on a 12-kilo Probat with modified burners inside and a 1-kilo roaster for sample roasting. Bergsen says his favorite coffee region is Ethiopia: “you can find totally different tastes from one farm to the next within the same region, and the variety is so rich that there is a lot to experiment with”.
Beyond roasting coffee, Petra is also about educating people about coffee, whether that’s a wholesale customer or a coffee enthusiast who wants to brew better. Recently they arranged a workshop at the Selfestate boutique on brewing techniques for people to enjoy the coffee experience at home, and they plan to continue arranging such events.
With big expansion plans, an international sensibility for coffee, and a striking production and cafe space, Petra is helping define a new generation of coffee in Istanbul. Pulling up a chair, or hanging out at the bar chatting as they roast, should definitely be on your to-do list if you visit Istanbul.
Gökçe Yildirim is a photographer living in Istanbul. This is his first piece for Sprudge.com