prefer making coffee over a flame, in a metal
Even though Armenia's claim to fame is not coffee
cultivation, Armenians are famous for their love
of the drink. A typical Armenian family begins
its morning with a steaming, tiny, cup of coffee.
Fifty-two-year old pedagogue Gayane Gevorgyan
says, "Every morning I run to the gas-stove
with half-closed eyes to make coffee, and this
moment seems to last so long. Then I bring my
coffee to my bed and sip it slowly. I feel how
all parts of my body awake with every sip."
Just as many people find it necessary to start
their day with coffee, others find it necessary
to drink throughout the day.
During the years Armenians have adopted this
drink as their own, making it more Armenian and
Parisian Coffee representative Vazgen Asatryan
has made his living in the world of coffee for
18 years. He says, "For the first time coffee
was brought even to Paris by an Armenian named
Pascal in 1710. In Armenia people have been drinking
coffee for at least three to four centuries."
Historical sciences candidate Armine Stepanyan
says that in ancient Armenia women used to grind
barley and drink it.
In Armenia there is a traditional eastern (oriental)
way of making coffee. With slight differences
of personal taste, the way to prepare it is: Take
one teaspoon of coffee, half a teaspoon of sugar
and add one demitasse of water. Of course this
simple way of making coffee has its secrets that
very few people will uncover.
"For me the composition of coffee is the
most important. What kind of coffee it is, what
kind of water? I would tell that many things depend
on water. I don't accept using sugar. The real
coffee drinkers drink it without sugar,"
Many people prefer bitter and cold coffee. Gevorgyan
says, "I drink bitter coffee to feel its
real taste. But cream of coffee is more important
Then she notes that coffee made on a gas stove
is very tasty. She says that one should remove
the coffee from the gas fire before it starts
In Armenia it is very popular to make coffee
in cheap plastic pots that heat water instantly.
The pots brew the drink fast, but purists prefer
more traditional means.
Svetlana Sargsyan, a 30-year old housewife, says,
"If my guests are waiting and I should make
coffee quickly, I use a coffee-machine. But usually
I make it in an aluminum coffeepot. It tastes
made quickly in a plastic pot, or patiently
over fire, Armenian coffee is dark, rich,
Stepanyan says coffee penetrated the Armenian
market in 1946-48, when many Diaspora-Armenians
from Iran, Syria and France returned to Armenia.
"Native Armenians learned drinking coffee
from them, though at the beginning they refused
to drink coffee and called them bitter water drinkers.
But that resistance was short," says Stepanyan.
Stepanyan says that the real coffee-drinkers are
"For us it is important that coffee is made
by a family girl. They are taught to make coffee
since childhood," says Syrian-Armenian (ArmeniaNow
photographer) Shant Khayalian. "We make coffee
in a little bit different way. We wait til water
boils and then add coffee and sugar. We don't
mix. We wait til it boils so that the cream on
Khayalian says Syrian-Armenians don't like drinking
coffee with cream and use very little sugar. Syrian-Armenians
drink coffee in special coffee-cups called 'pinja'.
They make their favorite drink in red silver coffee-pots,
because it makes coffee even tastier, especially
when prepared over coal.
Gayane Gevorgyan assures that coffee will be
even tastier if you make it on hot sand, a practice
of a few cafes in Yerevan.
How much coffee do Armenians drink per month?
"Every month 300-350 tons of coffee are
imported to Armenia," Asatryan says. "Our
company alone imports 18 tons of coffee every
three months; the other 14 companies import 5-10
He says that the greatest demand in markets is
for Arabika, which in fact doesn't correspond
to the type of beans used in traditional Armenian
coffee. The main part of coffee sold is a low-quality
Robusta that is being imported from Vietnam, Indonesia
and Asian countries.
However, it is possible to find high-quality
coffee beans in Armenia. The Parisian Coffee shop
sells three classical types of coffee ranging
in price from 4,400 drams (about $7.50) to 16,000
drams (about $27.50) per kilo.
Having a cup of coffee isn't always just having
a cup of coffee.
Gevorgyan says, "When we tell each other
'let's drink coffee', it means let's have a pleasant
chat. After having a chat, we say 'I wonder what
will happen in future?' and tell fortunes by reading
the coffee grounds after turning over the cups."
According to Armenian tradition, to read coffee
grounds, you turn your coffee cup over from the
side opposite to the one you were drinking from.
You then turn the cup over from three sides to
get interesting images. The most desirable and
awaited images are balls that symbolize presents
in the future.
"I always tell nice things when telling
fortunes by coffee ground. I see images and start
interpreting them," Gevorgyan says. "Coffee
cups usually give wings to people. They believe
in predictions. And the strong faith makes all
wishes come true."