Looping the Black Sea clockwise from Istanbul, you cross into Bulgaria, then Romania, Ukraine and Russia, before the final leg through Georgia and back into eastern Turkey at Sarpi. If you ride this loop, a challenging one, you cannot help but notice how far the Turkish Coffee culture has spread through the region - and beyond. Learning that Turkey in fact has no coffee plants, not one, and never has, simply stunned me.
It also triggered my curiosity and quest to understand this coffee, and find the absolute best version of it I could. Where do the beans come from? How are they roasted? How is the cup prepared, and what is the culture and history around this coffee? I decided to return again to Turkey in spring, and dedicate myself to the cause.
I arrive back in Istanbul in early May. I collect my bike at the storage garage near the old airport, dust it off and check the tires, oil, and chain, and ride immediately into the city, parking just off İstiklal Caddesi, the famous walking street. It was already hot but the air was clear and the city was teeming, as usual, a vibrant mix of people from everywhere, it seemed, but at this time with a large contingent of Syrian refugees and European tourists, who by near equal proportions were crowding out the locals and filling the narrow streets with energy.
(to be cont’d)