A venue filled with people of all ages and types, the smell of splendid coffee blends when you step in, the indistinct sound of coffee roasters in the crowd… This is the perfect image of a dreamlike place for coffee lovers like me. You may assume that this is a coffee house with a beautiful atmosphere. But it isn't. It is Küçükçiftlik Park where the Istanbul Coffee Festival (İCF) has been organized for the past six years.
Located in the center of the city, Küçükçiftlik Park serves as a multipurpose event space. On arrival, you will step into the best open-air event venue in Istanbul. Hosting the flagship coffee festival, the venue surprises its visitors with its large area with a capacity of 17,000, which makes every event more attractive. In this comfortable environment, the park is primed to present the sixth edition of the İCF, one of the two biggest coffee events in Europe, to Turkish and foreign visitors who have set their hearts on coffee between Sept. 19-22 this year.
Held by the imaginative team of Dream Sales Machine, which also organizes the Ankara Coffee Festival (ACF), Istanbul Comics and Art Festival (İCAF), Ankara Comics and Art Festival (ACAF) and Reformist, the İCF is a distinctive event built on the feelings that coffee arouses. It offers a different experience to consumers by combining quality coffee and lifestyle with the pattern of the metropolis. Enriched by the attendance of thousands of Istanbulites since its first edition, the event is the driver of a growing culture. Its program includes various workshops, seminars, new experiences in activity areas and concerts by popular musicians.
When you pass through the huge door of Küçükçiftlik Park with your festival ticket, you wear a wristband that shows you are a festival attendee. The more you walk around the surroundings here, the more you become mesmerized by the magical world of coffee. The venue is filled with booths serving people with various products. As you can imagine, there are booths that introduce different coffee beans and offer tastings. You turn around and see another stand presenting coffee brewing equipment. Just then, you recognize a workshop that teaches how to brew your coffee some blocks away.
For a short moment, you can feel lost among the crowd as the festival draws great attention both from Turkey and the world. However, it is no surprise that the city, which is one of the most significant representatives of intercultural dialogue, gathers different people around coffee, which has a 500-year history in these lands.
Hosting the most-loved local coffee houses in addition to world-renowned coffee shops, the festival is an amazing chance for those who want to be a home barista as well. That is, dozens of coffee lovers come together with professionals in this sector at the İCF. Besides, it also presents a cultural space where quality coffee touches on life practices by carrying its experience area one step further every year.
You can watch coffee roasting practices of famous brands, taste different coffee beans from local coffee shops and then learn coffee brewing methods from workshops here. While you will be satisfied with the variety of beans and brands, you will both have fun and learn at the workshops. You will recognize that the festival combines individual experiences with a journey into the realm of coffee.
Digging down deep
What about what happens backstage? To have insight into such a big event, Daily Sabah spoke to Alper Sesli, the Chief of Dream Sales Machines, the organizer of the festival. Sesli said that the İCF is a uniting experience by including the process of coffee from its source until it reaches the consumer, and the people who are coming together at the end of coffee's journey.
Coffee brewing workshops will teach how to be a home barista to the attendees.
He said that the festival, which puts quality and experience-oriented communication as its main focus of approaches, is preparing to celebrate its sixth anniversary with its strength gained from the professionals and creators of the coffee industry and all of the consumers who are supporting the continuation of coffee culture. Aiming to support small enterprises, the festival will break ground by hosting the best cafes across Europe this year. Noting that the foreign attendee numbers rose 15%-20 % at the event, Sesli explained the importance of the economy that coffee brings.
Sesli thinks that coffee has become an important element for the new generation as it has provided the social environment that they need. "People, especially youth, need something new that will be an excuse to socialize for them. Coffee, revived with its 500-year history in these lands, has come at this moment. New brewing methods and techniques brought a fresh take to it," he continued.
Sesli emphasized that people need to recognize the economy that coffee creates. "As coffee has become indispensable in the lives
of people, it provides a huge economy as well. However, what coffee sellers should notice is that this culture will sustain in neighborhoods. Everyone plans to open giant enterprises with a lot of customers. Instead of such dreams, they should focus on providing good and quality coffee to their clients accompanied by delicious refreshments in small coffeehouses. In this way, they will both attract coffee lovers chasing good coffee and keep the economy alive in their neighborhood."
For Sesli, the İCF has become a landmark for the city while this drink is gaining importance day by day. "People need something to make them ready for a new day. Even if they cannot
have breakfast in the rush of their daily lives, a fresh cup of coffee will be enough for them. For this reason, we thought that this drink should be honored with an event. Then, the idea to organize the İCF occurred. Now, we have many visitors of all ages. Young and old attendees come to the festival to witness the coffee experience. While this culture grows, we cannot ignore it."
As mentioned, the İCF is a scene of various activities. Along with coffee tastings and workshops, you will have a chance to buy various products from badges to cookies, kerchiefs, cups, pens and books here. But you will notice that they are all coffee-concept goods if you pay attention.
You will certainly feel tired after all the tastings and shopping. In the large field of Küçükçiftlik Park, you do not need to worry. There is also a rest area where huge pillows cover the green field. You can lie down and listen to the quality music performed by famous musicians or read a book there. Fresh drinks and tasty foods will be on offer to help you relax and enjoy the day out.