Turkish coffee may have a long and storied history, but these days, there’s a whole new wave of artisanal and specialty coffee shops taking the country by storm. We sat down with İbrahim Erşad Polat of No48 Coffee in the sunny, coastal town of Fethiye to talk about all things caffeinated.
Having just returned from Istanbul for the Istanbul Coffee Festival, the soft-spoken and passionate coffee shop owner shares how he first got into coffee, favourite way to drink it and the one piece of equipment that makes all the difference in getting the perfect brew.
Where are you from, and what is your background?
I was born in the Eastern province of Siwas but my family moved to Istanbul for my dad’s business when I was young. After finishing high school, I wanted to become a musician but ended up joining a company in 2008 to sell coffee machines and train baristas instead.
How did you end up in Fethiye, what is its coffee culture and how does it compare to Istanbul?
In 2019, I moved to Fethiye from Bursa for the company I was working for, and when they moved back to Bursa, I stayed back. Before us, there was basically no decent coffee shop in Fethiye.
When did you open No48 coffee, and where does the name come from?
We opened this cafe in 2019 on New Year’s Day – 48 is the area code of Muğla province. We’re actually opening a new store near Calis Beach next year, which will have 350 square metres of space including a garden.
What were the major challenges of opening your own place?
Due to Covid, we had all kinds of issues with closures, obviously, as well as staff and supply chain issues. From coffee beans to milk, we were dealing with all kinds of shortages. Luckily, this year has really picked back up and things are looking good again.
Do you remember your first cup of coffee?
I was working for Krispy Kreme when I had my first cup of coffee. I didn’t like coffee at the time, but ever since tasting all kinds of coffee and brews for work, I developed a taste for it.
What’s your favourite way to enjoy coffee now?
Filter coffee, hands down.
And how many cups of coffee do you usually have per day?
Anywhere between one cup to eight or ten! It really depends on the day I’m having.
Best equipment for coffee lovers?
What are some of your favourite coffee shops in Istanbul?
Spada, because they really make specialty coffee (and not just claim to like many coffee shops).
Klar Coffee Co., because they roast their own beans and they also offer workshops on coffee roasting and brewing in Istanbul.
Besides coffee, what are your other hobbies?
I love writing songs, singing and playing my guitar, and exploring the amazing nature around Fethiye with my car, whether it’s going off road, camping or trekking.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m currently preparing for the Barista Championship in Turkey – if I get first place, I’ll move onto the World Championships in 2023. Wish me luck!
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