Ashuri Baklava and Cafe, a new coffee shop in downtown Bellingham, is introducing Bellingham residents to the traditional Turkish coffeehouse experience– strong coffee, decadent pastries, and a place to enjoy good company.
On Oct. 2, 2021, the cafe’s doors first opened to the public. The owners, brothers Kristofer and Lukas Konutgan, were both born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. They opened the shop as a way to create a space that felt a bit like home.
Just six years ago, Kristofer moved to Bellingham from Istanbul, and his brother Lukas came soon after. They missed the coffee houses of Turkey, where people gather — day or night — to socialize, drink coffee, and eat snacks. The brothers longed for a similar spot, so they decided to create it.
Two stained glass chandeliers bathe the space in warm, welcoming light. There are several tables as well as a pair of lounging chairs to sit back and relax in, and a large shelving space in the middle of the storefront boasts a wide variety of imported goods. There are lamps, jewelry, Turkish coffee cups (or demitasses), and glasses available for purchase in addition to a wide variety of imported rugs.
Kristofer said the coffee and pastries are all imported from Turkey as well.
“The roast and the grind is true to the original thing,” Kristofer said. “Our baklavas and our Turkish bread and pastries — börek, poğaça
The method of brewing Turkish coffee is completely different than what most of us are used to. It’s not espresso, nor is it a pourover. Rather, the coffee is mixed with cold water and sugar, brought to a simmer, and then poured into a demitasse unfiltered. The method is known to be one of the oldest forms of coffee making, and is still one of the primary ways to drink coffee in much of the world.
With every new customer that comes in, the brothers introduce the drink and food menu and share small stories and descriptions about the food and coffee– little tastes of culture passed along. Kristofer said he always talks to new customers about the differences in the coffee, as most people in Western culture haven’t tried anything like it.
The coffee comes served in a small, elegant cup. It’s warm, strong, and perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the sugar. Accustomed to a different form of coffee, I had to withhold myself from taking the whole cup down in one delicious gulp. Thankfully I didn’t, and the experience was more delightful with every sip.
The cafe is open Monday, Thursday, and Sunday from 10 a.m.-8.p.m, Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., and is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Kristofer said there is a lack of options for an evening coffee in Bellingham, and they are hoping to fill that absence. He said in Turkey, having an evening coffee after a meal is commonplace; it acts as a mild stimulant for the rest of the evening and a good digestive for full bellies.
“I’m super excited just to be able to be myself and introduce where I come from, introduce the foods that I come from, and the culture that I come from,” Kristofer said. “Just that alone will be very fulfilling to me.” 103 Grand Ave., Bellingham, 360.318.3030, ashuri.co