How much do we even think about the taste or amount of coffee we consume, or are we all at the "over caffeinated" level already? What about the exorbitant prices we pay without thinking twice? Can you decipher the different qualities of the beans? Do you know how to do this? Well, these are the questions buzzing around my head every time I walk past the dozens of new, look-alike coffee shops that have invaded every corner of my hometown, Istanbul.
Do people even go home, or have they just settled in the coffee shops overnight? They have become our offices and our playgrounds, both for socializing and work. Personally, I have even become a part of this industry, as well. I call it an industry because it resembles any other fancy fad so far in the 21st century.
What really gives me food for thought is that although they all look like they have
unique ambiance, I get the feeling they have all been "copied and pasted." The same music, similar drinks and gimmicks. You all may be wondering, "What does she expect from a coffee shop?" I actually have very few expectations to be honest. What bothers me is that the "coffee" concept seems to be capitalism at its best. The younger generation, especially students and young freelancers, are the most frequent regulars. They are not finicky. Every few meters there is a new, bustling coffee shop offering the same quality products, maybe even dozens of types of coffee beans labeled with gracefully written stickers. If we are committed to being "coffee zombies," let's be educated about it. You should know what you are drinking. Try different types of beans and take your time getting to know them. Try to focus on the coffee. A lot of baristas offer a wide variety. Coffee beans have interesting backgrounds both in terms of history and variety. Be a conscientious coffee consumer. Believe me, it will be more fun. When drinking different varieties, taste and aroma are key. Try to evaluate it by its acidity, bitterness, salinity, sweetness and umami (soybean) - the five main classifications. Coffee will soon stop being merely a hot beverage and more of an experience.
Kadıköy, Beşiktaş, Karaköy, Cihangir and Galata are home to some of Istanbul's best coffee shops. A "cup of joe" has become so much more than a mere beverage for millennials who also see it as a social symbol. This generation, now around 20 years old or so, started drinking coffee before they were 15, according to National Coffee Association data. It has become socially acceptable for youngsters to grab some coffee, too. No judgment, no offense, they are just enjoying a hot beverage. Inevitably, people will join you for a cup. Pretty soon, hanging out means grabbing a coffee, no matter how much it costs. The artisan side of sector makes it feel more like a purchasable product than something to enjoy; and though the trend does have an artisan aspect, there is no denying that it has turned into a billion-dollar industry that has had political and economic impact worldwide.
My problem is not with the coffee itself, but the industry.
I love coffee, and I start my day with a cup, as well. However, I am confused by the amount of coffee shops and the crowds that rush to them - the "coffee obsessed" customers.
Turks had the same reaction to Coca-Cola and other foreign products. It has become an indispensable activity for all age groups, and a trend that just keeps getting stronger. Coffee looks like the next prize sector of the 21st century.
Third wave coffee shops
The beakers, wooden cups and even the crazy chemistry-inspired kits make it hard to find the brews that are worth their salt. While I appreciate their creativity, making it look sophisticated and imposing usually just leads to disappointment.
I'll let you in on a little secret: Too many cooks spoil t
he soup. I have tested different types of coffees in many countries. People have preferences. Find what you love, and what you don't. Create your own taste scale. Don't be persuaded.
Decide on your own. What third-wave coffee brought into our lives is a showy industry. Here is the reason why I am so skeptical - maybe even pessimistic: They all say that their beans are special; they all think when you put a sticker and write a exotic name, it sounds as rare as hen's teeth, making you believe the coffee will be worth the high price.
I am by no means an expert on the smells and subtleties; however, neither are most of these so-called third-wave baristas.