Iranian Coffee Culture: From Traditional Brews to Modern Cafés

Experience the Evolution of Iranian Coffee Culture, from Age-Old Traditions to Trendy Café Scenes.

Coffee, as a pleasant and energizing drink, has always had many fans around the world and among Iranians.

Coffee drinking culture in Iran has a long history and you may be interested to know that unlike today where tea is a popular drink in the country, coffee has a longer history than tea and it was considered a commonly consumed beverage when it entered Iran.

Below, we will cover the history and the method of preparing traditional brews and modern coffee in Iran.

History of Coffee Introduction to Iran

According to historical research, Iranians discovered a beverage called “qahveh” during their pilgrimage to neighboring countries around the 1600s, during the reign of Safavid.
A book was also written around this time about the benefits and harms of coffee.

As a result, the Shah of that time, Shah Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty, decided to import coffee into Iran.

The Establishment of Coffee Houses in Iran

Traditional Coffee Houses In Iran
Traditional Coffee Houses in Iran (photo by Apochi)

With the introduction of coffee to Iran, the first coffee-serving place in Iran called Coffee Houses (Gahveh-khaneh) was established in the palace of the Safavid kings.
Initially, coffee was the staple food consumed in these places, mainly by royalty.
These cafes were managed by a person called “qahvehchi” and officials met there to discuss important political and economic issues.
Interestingly, traditional coffee shops (Gahveh-khaneh) still exist in Iran but they serve tea instead of coffee. After a while, Coffee Houses were also formed in cities and coffee became a popular drink for people.
Rituals such as poetry reading, dancing and singing became popular in coffee shops.

Importance of Coffee for Muslims

the consumption of alcoholic beverages is not permissible and therefore, Muslims need a permissible beverage to give them enough energy.
This is why coffee became popular among them.

Traditional Coffee
Traditional Coffee (photo by Comunicaffe International)

Important Uses of Coffee in the Past

At that time, coffee was also used to treat certain diseases, such as depression.

Sufi Muslims and religious individuals also used coffee to stay awake at night for worship purposes.

Interestingly, in ancient times, Iranians also drank coffee during funeral ceremonies.

Traditional Types of Coffee in Iran

In ancient times, due to Iran’s proximity to Arab countries, the consumption of Arabic-style coffee became popular.

Besides Arabic coffee, Turkish and Yazdi coffee was another coffee preparation method at that time.

Here we will introduce you to the preparation methods of traditional coffee styles from ancient Iran, which are still popular today in some cities in Iran.

Yazdi Coffee Preparation

Traditional Yazdi Coffee In Iran
Traditional Yazdi Coffee in Iran (photo by Iran Front Page)

To make Yazdi coffee, first roast the coffee powder.

Then, for every teaspoon, add three teaspoons of sugar (you can also make it without sugar) and a small amount of water (about a small cup).

Pour the mixture into a copper or aluminum pot and heat it over heat until the coffee begins to boil.
Then reduce the heat and let the coffee boil for about forty minutes to an hour.

If you want, you can add a little rose water, cardamom and cinnamon, then let the coffee brew for an hour.

Finally, pour coffee into a small cup and enjoy.

This type of coffee can also be served at funeral ceremonies.

Turkish Coffee Preparation

Turkish Coffee
Turkish Coffee (photo by Önder Örtel)

To make Turkish coffee, mix water with coffee.

If you like it sweet, you can add sugar from the beginning.

After the coffee is mixed well, place the pot on low heat.

As soon as foam begins to form and before the coffee boils, remove the foam with a spoon and distribute it evenly among the cups.

Then pour the remaining coffee into the cup.

Arabic Coffee Preparation

Arabic Coffee
Arabic Coffee (photo by Kier in Sight Archives)

The amount of grind and powder in Arabic coffee is equivalent to Turkish coffee.

However, it is of course best to use coffee with a high proportion of Arabica.

This type of coffee is traditionally brewed in a special coffee machine called “Dallah”, but today you can also use coffee makers for Turkish coffee such as “Cezve”.

1 or 2 teaspoons of coffee (depending on your preference) need a cup of water.

Mix the coffee and water thoroughly, then set the coffee maker on low heat (traditionally it is placed on hot coals). let it come to a gentle boil.

Afterward, remove the pot from the heat for about 30 seconds to lower the temperature.

Add one or two heaping teaspoons of coffee to the Dallah or coffee pot, then put it on very low heat for 10 to 12 minutes to steep.

When the foam is placed on the coffee, it is ready to be served.

If desired, after removing it from the heat for a minute or two, you can add some cardamom, cinnamon, cloves or saffron and return it to the stove for a short period to allow the flavors are mixed together.

History of Importing Tea instead of Coffee

Iranian Tea
Iranian Tea (photo by Abolfazl Ranjbar)

Around the 19th century, the British spread the culture of tea drinking and tea growing by penetrating neighboring countries such as India and China.

Iran, facing a shortage of imported coffee, found that tea was readily available in neighboring countries and therefore had to import tea.

Gradually, Iranian people got used to the method of making tea and a device called “samovar” was introduced to make tea.

Tea eventually replaced coffee as the popular beverage.

The Creation of the First Modern Coffee Shop in Iran

Modern Coffee Shop In Iran
Modern Coffee Shop in Iran (photo by sun Akbari)

During the Qajar dynasty and the reign of Mozaffar ad-Din Shah, a modern trend emerged among the youth.

Gholamhossein Khan, a wealthy man who studied in France, brought the idea of ​​building coffee shops from Paris to Iran and created the first modern coffee shop.

This cafe is called “Loqhanteh” (Derived from the French name of coffee shops), which is also the current name of a cafe in Tehran, in a similar style.

With the rise of coffee shops, coffee consumption has become popular again among Iranians. At first, only men frequented the cafe, but after a while, women also began to frequent the cafe.

Coffee Consumption in Iran Today

Cups Of Coffee
Cups of Coffee (photo by Justin Bhalla)

After the Islamic Revolution and the start of the Iran-Iraq War, coffee consumption decreased. however, in the 1990s, we again saw the promotion of coffee in Iran.

With technological advancements, people’s knowledge about different types of coffee has increased and as a result, consumption of different types of coffee gradually became popular in Iran.

In recent years, coffee has become even more popular among Iranians as a popular beverage.

Today, many different types of coffee, including Turkish coffee, French coffee, espresso, cappuccino and instant coffee, as well as various coffee-milk combinations, are available in Iranian coffee shops.

Each type of coffee has its own fan. It is worth noting that in Tehran and most cities in Iran, you will find many cafes in every neighborhood where you can have a good time.
It is important to mention that in most cafés, in addition to coffee, you can also enjoy other drinks such as tea, herbal infusions, cold drinks, as well as many dishes and salad.
We look forward to welcoming you to Iran.

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Zeinab Khadivi

Hello, I'm Zizi Khadiv. I love traveling and socializing with people, and I really enjoy introducing the beauties of my country and the hospitable people of Iran to people from other countries. That's why I love being a tour guide.

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