Kilims and East Coast Coffee Culture

Caffe Kilim and Market continues on as the rogue pioneers of Portsmouth’s decades-old, vibrant coffee culture.

The year was 1993, and most folks in Portsmouth got their coffee fix at bakeries, diners or other locations whose main focus was not coffee and definitely not espresso. Then, Caffe Kilim and Market hit the scene as the first of five Seattle Style coffee shops to open their doors in Portsmouth that year, caffeinating the city in a brand new bittersweet way. The coffee shop and market is an authentic mom and pop institution, owned and operated by the husband and wife duo Janice Schenker and Yalcin Yazgan, employing three of their six children who, “…literally grew up drinking coffee and steamers.”

Espresso and gillato aka Affogato | Photo courtesy Caffe Kilim and Market Instagram

Espresso and gelato aka affogato | Photo courtesy Caffe Kilim and Market Instagram

According to Janice, there was little to no “coffee culture” in Portsmouth prior to 1993, “
Caffe Kilim’s founding heralded the coffee culture here in Portsmouth….We introduced and decoded much of the terminology which was commonplace in Seattle i.e. latte, cappuccino, macchiato, single short, double tall, velvet foam etc. We posted diagrams on our walls to help our customers understand how and what to order…and of course when the punk scene emerged in Portsmouth with the Elvis Room, that just sealed the deal.”

Photo courtesy Caffe Kilim and Market Instagram

The coffee shop and market’s identity is rooted in many things; quality coffee, ethnic authenticity, and sustainability. As the name implies, Caffe Kilim and Market is more than a coffee shop, it’s a location where you can snag specialty foods from Turkey and the Mediterranean, view varied work by local artists and purchase ornate kilim rugs of all colors and sizes. In addition, Janice and Yalcin keep sustainability in the forefront of their business, which makes them a bit weary of the novel, more energy intensive and sometimes wasteful practices that characterize the so-called “new wave” of coffee shops and coffee brewers. Janice and Yalcin have been around long enough to understand that innovation within an industry does not always equal progress.

Caffe Kilim plans to add another layer to their operations – Turkish style breakfast which, according to Janice will be, “…mostly savory – cheese, bread, olives, different vegetables mostly tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers…also a spinach pie, Börek, which comes in many forms but we’re going to focus on the spinach.”

Kilims for sale | Photo courtesy Caffe Kilim and Market Instagram

Kilims for sale | Photo courtesy Caffe Kilim and Market Instagram

Caffe Kilim and Market is a coffee shop and specialty foods store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for their upcoming breakfast updates and continuing commentary on cold brew coffee. 


John ArvanitisKilims and East Coast Coffee Culture

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