Hidden in plain sight behind an ornate terraced façade of decorative windows and original door of the former Glasgow Society for Musicians, you might not expect to find a Turkish inspired coffeehouse. You would be forgiven for walking past Ottoman Coffeehouse on Glasgow’s Berkeley Street without noticing the venue’s existence. Yet, for the owners – brothers Irfan, 45, and Imran Akhtar, 39 – the inconspicuous location may be proving advantageous.

HeraldScotland:

“We’ve had a lot of support from the people of Glasgow,” says Imran, “especially considering that no one really knows this place exists … people walk past it every day without realising what’s behind the door.”

When walking through the dramatic door customers are led through a narrow passageway before being absorbed by the large Ottoman themed hall.

The Glasgow Society for Musicians building was formerly used as a jazz club, formed in 1884, and the two brothers have managed to capture the building’s old world atmosphere while incorporating a relaxing Turkish aesthetic.

HeraldScotland:

“It’s like an old Ottoman inspired living room, but closer to the 19th century,” Imran explains.

“The ultimate goal is for customers to come in and feel as relaxed as they would on holiday, that’s why we removed all clocks, and we don’t take bookings – we don’t want people to come in and then have to leave because someone has booked their table. They should feel like they’re at home.”

The pièce de resistance however is in the name, and it’s the coffee that draws in returning customers.

HeraldScotland:

After investing in the creation of a Turkish themed coffeehouse, the Glaswegian brothers (already coffee afficionados) wasted no time in researching Ottoman culture and history, and training with tea and coffee experts in Istanbul.

Imran admits the vision for the coffeehouse was first conceived by his late father, but the brothers were concerned they wouldn’t be able to stand out among Glasgow’s many cafés.

Imran points out: “A coffee shop is hardly unique and each place in Glasgow stands out in its own right – we’re just lucky this place took off for us and that people enjoy returning.

HeraldScotland: ImranImran

“We get a whole host of different cultures coming in, some come in for the coffee blends and some come in for the ambience and the escapism.

Imran admits they can spend up to an hour blending the coffee in the mornings – tasting and tweaking it to make it just right. And making an authentic organic chai latte can take up to four hours of prep. Alongside the coffee and tea options is a street food style of menu, offering kebabs and Turkish influenced meals.

HeraldScotland:

“We have a lot of coffee blends and numerous ways of making it,” he continues. “The customers are great, they really enjoy watching the process of us doing it, and it becomes more immersive and interesting.

“The interesting thing is during Ottoman times coffeehouses were banned by different sultans because they were afraid of divided groups uniting and planning to revolt against them. And there is a truth to coffeehouses bringing people and different cultures together in union and sharing a passion for coffee. We love seeing more communities integrated in the coffeehouse.”

HeraldScotland:

www.ottomancoffeehouse.co.uk

 

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