Mertkan Kılıçcı‘s story is a journey of passion transcending the bounds of a typical career path. It begins in the classrooms of an engineering college in Turkey, where Mertkan, a student of mechanical engineering, grapples with a profession he respects but doesn’t love. His true calling whispers to him not in the hum of machinery, but in the rhythmic sounds of a bustling café where he works part-time. Here, among the steam and aroma of coffee, his heart finds its beat.
“I could learn new things every day, every moment, like an endless well. I was feeling that I got married to the woman I love,”
Mertkan reflects. His fascination isn’t just with the drink but with its entire culture – the rich, deep flavors of natural beans, their tantalizing aromas, and the artistry behind each cup. This newfound love prompts a bold decision: to leave behind the predictability of engineering for the vibrant world of coffee.
Transitioning into the coffee industry, Mertkan’s professional journey is marked by a pivotal moment: his encounter with a Colombian lacto-fermented coffee at a festival. This coffee, with its pronounced fruity notes, becomes a beacon, guiding him deeper into the coffee sector. His passion for experiencing new tasting notes and exploring diverse beans becomes insatiable, leading him to acquire certifications in barista skills, sensory analysis, and brewing.
“If your goals are strong and you work hard, these challenges will remain as beautiful memories,”
he muses, acknowledging the late start in his career but also the intense joy and satisfaction his new path brings. Despite the challenges of breaking into a new industry, Mertkan dedicates all his free time to his craft. He climbs up from the bottom, eager to inspire others and share his journey.
Mertkan Kılıçcı’s dedication culminates in a significant achievement: securing the 3rd place in the 2023 Turkey Barista Championship. This triumph is the result of countless hours of training with seasoned champions and his coach Koray Erdogdu. It’s a testament to his relentless pursuit of excellence and a stepping stone towards his next big goal – winning the World Championship and gaining international recognition.
As he forges ahead, Mertkan enters the world of roasting, driven by the evolving techniques in fermentation and aroma profiles. His role at Coffee Manifesto in Kadıköy, Istanbul, is not just a job; it’s a continuation of his journey in coffee. Every morning in the roastery, he meticulously plans the day’s roasts, selecting beans from around the world, each with its unique story and character.
Mertkan, in his own words, shares,
“I would be delighted to share something about coffee with anyone who inquires.”
His story, from engineering student to competitive barista and now a roaster, is a narrative of relentless pursuit, continuous learning, and the joy of following one’s heart. Want to learn more about Mertkan’s coffee journey? Follow him on Instagram.