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Vefa Bozacisi

Vefa Cad. No: 66, Fatih, 34134 Istanbul

Metro: Vezneciler. On foot: 10 mins from the Kapalıçarşı, 5 mins from the Süleymaniye, 3 mins from the Şehzade Mosque

This immaculate 1930s café with glittering mosaic columns serves two mildly fermented drinks: sira, from grape juice, in summer; boza, from millet, in winter. You can buy Vefa’s vinegar, 3 degrees proof rather than the usual 6, a secret of good Turkish cooking.

Cornucopia 61

Café Come Home

By Andrew Finkel

If it’s Wi-Fi you yearn for, if you know the difference between a grande and a venti – or, even stranger, care – and if your idea of an adventurous afternoon is sinking into the not-quite-as-comfortable-as-it-looks pastel-coloured velveteen cushions of an overstuffed armchair, then you are better off in your local Starbucks than the often quite austere surrounds of a Turkish coffee house.

There are fancy ones, of course, but be prepared for chipped Formica tables, straight-backed wooden chairs and even knee-high wobbly stools. It is a hardship worth enduring. Starbucks and its ilk are essentially places to don headphones and tune the world out. People do meet to converse – but in the hushed tones of a cocktail-lounge booth in a suburban mall, not to be overheard. A coffee house is a public place (like the “pub”), the heart of something, a place to speak to the world and find out what is going on.

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
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