That’s quite true. “Haykakan soorch”, meaning literally “Armenian coffee” is the spell that guarantees to serve you a truly intense eastern black coffee. However, coffee culture in Armenia spills somewhat beyond this tiny cup of eastern coffee and does not only withhold a recipe - it is a lifestyle.
There is no evidence saying that Armenians did not invent coffee. However, it is true that Armenians had never been involved in its production, but rather popularisation of coffee culture - therefore Armenian merchants are considered to have brought coffee, in a broader sense, from Ottoman Empire to Europe, thus taking part in westernising coffee culture. .
The story goes like this: a man named Mr. Diodato, also known as Hovhaness Astvatsatour, opened the first coffee shop in Vienna in 1685 “following Emperor Leopold I’s grand impression of the ‘pulverized’ form of coffee made by his servants at home.” In 1685 Rotenturmstraße 14 saw the first coffee house in Vienna - Daniel Moser had been serving its guests up until now. Vienna was just the starting point; the coffee scene had since spread all across Europe -- Venice, London, Paris. Coffee shops started opening one after another. Cannot conceal it, diaspora resources claim the founders of coffee houses in those cities to be Armenians too.
Coffee has certainly gained the leading position in Armenian daily routine. No, it doesn’t grow here. There are no plantations spanning across the country, but the consumer culture is simply a fiction that metamorphoses Armenian daily routine. “Soorch khmenk?”, which is Armenian for something like “let us have a break, small and big talk share life wisdom, get distracted from work and enjoy the sip and company.” Soorch, the Armenian word for coffee, either used to represent black water in Armenian (sev joor) or derived its name from the sound soooorshh, which hot liquid makes when hitting the shore of the stiff and cold coffee cup. Pure lyrics.
Imagine this: In a hospital, a nurse is rushing from one room to another with a battered electrical Jazve-coffee maker in her hand - her colleagues are long expecting with a plate of candies and dried fruit cautiously lying around on a table along with papers and neatly folded napkins. A gang of taxi drivers in leather jackets and jeans sitting around an improvised coffee table and enjoying coffee and cigarettes at the loud political discussion. Coffee is a narrative of a break during a busy day, besides, in the eastern culture, it is a symbol of nonchalance instead of assertiveness. It serves a break to everyone, anywhere, from a shawarma place to a fine dinner, in every corner of the city. This is a revitalizing, saturated joy, that is not meant to be an on the go experience to placebate the acceleration of productivity.
Nevertheless, plenty types of coffee live in Yerevan to satisfy any cast of consumers. The coffee business is prospering in its arabica/robusta ratio race and the pursuit of excellence in mixing whatever there is in terms of flavor pleasures. Apart from numerous cafes that serve great espresso shots from quality coffee machines (we will make a list of them in another article), there are quite iconic things to keep an eye on. Yerevan can provide anyone with even most nostalgia things like Nescafe. You can really find Nescafe Gold being treated with absolute respect on the menu. Instant coffee like Nescafe or Maccoffee is still as much preferred, as is a shot of espresso and can be ordered likewise.
“To go” is quite new to Yerevan, the concept of drinking coffee in stress is still not entirely accepted. Yet, coffee stands appear every hundred meters, offering different products under exclusive brand names. Fellas lined up have one eye on the menu while another keeps staring on the far not circumstantially attractive (female) barista. “Coffee House” in front of Moscow Cinema, for example, offers Snickers, Kinder, Bounty coffee along with all kinds of other blends. Constant innovations are a subject of endless seduction of trying something new. The attractiveness of street coffee stands, their looks and concepts seem to be the key mark, the competition is high, so the suppliers do their best to stand out. Loud tunes usually accompany the existence of street coffee stands. It is tasty, affordable and entertaining.
There are not so many people you see walking the street with a coffee cup, but this is changing rapidly. Coffee is of very good quality, made with care and demanding standards, nicely made coffee cups and intense tasty coffee can make you on the go day. Guys from “Perfetto” (their coffee mobile located in front of bookinist bookstore on Mashtots Av) have been drinking so much coffee until they got to their perfect ratio - 30% Robusta, 70% Arabica. There are other several spots with coffee mobiles, in the center e.g in Cascade, in front of the Opera House and Republic Square.
Coffee vending machines do not simply appear at the offices, shops, and institutions, but at every corner in almost every street, at every bus station. AND IT IS GOOD. AND IT COSTS 20 CENT. The variety is killing - remembering brand names can become a hobby, but Lavazza is still winning the business and grasps a big market share. There are also coffee vending machines with TVs installed in them (coffee there is slightly more expensive though). There is also an option of instant coffee too. This makes coffee available at extreme time and space proximity. And it literally costs a dime.
Coffee came to Armenia through the reign of Ottoman Empire, got popular around the 18th century and the recipe of coffee still mainly remained the same throughout history. Armenian coffee (grounds very finely milled) is brewed on the stove in a small pot commonly called a “Jazzve”. It’s usually made of copper or other metal, with a long handle, sometimes wood or metal. In some places, like a cafe chain Jazzve or at Ost Food Court at Saryan Street, they may bring you coffee made on hot sand.
Ordering arevelyan or haykakan soorch would bring you to a very delicate question of huge importance. “How sweet do you want in it? (or in Armenian “Kakhtsrutyuny=sweetness”) It’s hard to think local in this situation, but here’s a little tip. It is hard to add sugar to the coffee that you are going to be served: you will end up a hell of trouble stirring the coffee and bringing all these teeny-tiny sand bits of finely milled coffee beans into a viscous mess of separating liquid from grinds with your lips. To avoid this, the sugar is added while cooking thus determining sweetness. Well, there are three options you may choose from: “dar” - meaning bitter, no sugar added, “normal” which means “a little bit of sugar inside” (assumed like any NORMAL RATIONAL human being may drink her coffee) or kakhcr (meaning “sweet”, but that’s like three spoons of sugar, so “freaking sweet”)
Spicy Chilli Chocolate, Ginger Pumping Latte and many many other lovely specialties with a touch of fantasy and care are offered at Green Bean. No, it is not what Green Bean is known for. In 2012 it opened a roaster - the owners that used to be holding an Italian style cafe serving good coffee, decide that it may not be a bad idea to roast coffee themselves. This is when Green Bean was given a go, in Amiryan Street, 10 the Indonesian and Columbians blends were created and the cafe in the concept of healthy and organic (also vegan) food and drinks was serving its guests. The secret ratio of the coffee is 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta. The fine coffee and the green, environment-friendly atmosphere brought along many locals and foreigners to enjoy the drink and peaceful atmosphere to work in with a laptop.
The savage and very unexpected, interesting coffee experience is awaiting you at Haldi Co with two locations in the city of Yerevan. It is a Columbian coffee house chain, with a franchise around the world (mostly in Latin America). Choosing out of 20 different 100% Arabica premium coffee types, you are getting comfortably enchanted: smelling all the Arabicas from small coffee jars presented by the barista, listening to the story of each specialty, this is an absolutely lovely experience. Beware of getting dizzy, this may happen after losing track of what coffee comes after which, and the names getting mixed up.
Anyways, THEY ALL TASTE GOOD. Every coffee, apart from having a significantly unique taste, also varies in intensity. The most recommended to try out of this crazy list is Anitioqia - called a father of Colombian coffees, a golden coffee. Apart from this, Anitioqia is an area, which is situated in Armenia, a municipality in Columbia. Atlantico, for example, has a 200-year-old history, while Arauca is famous for being very uplifting. Another must try while at Haldi Co Yerevan is the coffee called…Armenia. Having many privileges over the other, intensity and taste combined in a very special blend, it was a favorite coffee of Juan Sanchez. This is something you really have to try, and prove yourself the hype around it as treated with special adoration.
If you cannot try all of them at the place, you can take a pack with you. Armenia (coffee) can also be a fine puzzling souvenir, which is very delicious and has a completely random story. Moreover, the specialty desserts to accompany a cup of coffee do not leave disappointed. My favorite is “almao”, chocolate, which translated from Spanish means soul orgasm. Drop by Demirchyan street 22, and you will also enjoy a beautiful place too: a magical garden or the very cozy inside area of the cafe.
Lucia Kagramanyan lives in Vienna and is currently completing a Master degree in Business Administration at the University of Vienna. During her bachelors in hospitality management, she did a semester at San Francisco State specializing in hotel & leisure management. Her focus, nevertheless, lies beyond a restricted field circle or discipline, rather than concentrated on one particular aspect. With a big interest in liberal arts, fiction, and music while valuing experience and trial N error more than any scholar endeavor, she dives into daily wonders of daily life and sciences connecting bits of information into one entity. She is a DJ and music enthusiasts, doing radio shows and playing on different venues and a big caucasian rugs fan.