The Hospitality of Armenian Coffee
The World is Just One Big Cup
No matter where you’re living in the world, what’s the one thing we can all agree on?
Coffee, right? (duh, Mary, that’s obviously what you’re writing about today). It’s one of those similarities that we as humans share with the rest of our species.
But seriously, who saw a supple green coffee bean and thought I’m going to roast this, grind it up, steep the powder in water, and then drink the bitter remains… Probably a loony.
But whoever that loony was, give them a medal and a clap on the back because they are in fact, my hero. Seriously, I think I have eight different methods to brew coffee in my kitchen alone. You may take this time to stow your judgment in the overhead compartment.
Whenever I pick up a cup of coffee, I get an immediate feeling of growth, of pause, of betterment. It’s comforting and versatile, able to be prepared in so many ways.
Traveling allows a great opportunity to see the global varieties of coffee and explore the local coffee culture. And my recent stint in Armenia was no different. You can check out my guide to the best coffee shops in Yerevan here!
Like many other cultures in the world, Armenia has their own take on coffee. If you would like to know more about Armenia, check out this post!
The Armenian word for coffee is “soorch”, or to be specific, “haykakan soorch”, meaning literally “Armenian coffee.” The style is similar throughout the Mediterranean and is served usually with only sugar added, no milk. It’s concentrated and powerful, almost like a shot of espresso.
Armenian coffee is brewed on the stove in a small pot commonly called a “Jazve”. It’s usually made of copper or other metal, with a long handle, sometimes wood or metal. The coffee pots come in many different sizes and ornamentation, with many different capacities.
The brewed coffee is then served in adorable little coffee cups. Perhaps one of the biggest changes for me while living in Armenia was having to check my big, beautiful, cozy American coffee mugs at the door. If I was going to caffeinate like a local, I needed to go small.
How to make Armenian Coffee
While it seems simple to brew, there is definitely a refined method.
First, the water is measured into the pot. Filling a (small) coffee cup to the brim, measure out the amount of water into the pot. The pot is then placed on the stove burner and coffee grounds are added, about one teaspoon per cup of coffee being made.
Fun fact: Armenian coffee grounds are different than what you would normally find in the grocery store. They are milled much finer than espresso ground and feel more like a powder than granules.
Stir the water and the coffee while it heats up. Oh, and it is SO important to remember to never ever leave the stove while the coffee is brewing! This is because the coffee can boil over quickly and then you’re left with a hot mess on your stove and the whole house smells like burnt coffee. I know this because a friend told me. Uh huh.
Add sugar to taste. Usually, half a teaspoon per cup is sufficient. Allow the coffee to simmer over medium-high heat. When it starts to foam and rise to the top, quickly take it off the heat. Try not to let it boil!
Pour into cups and serve. According to some Armenians, the best cup of coffee still has some foam on top and that it is bad luck to spill onto the saucer when serving. Which tbh is nearly impossible because the cup is filled to the absolute brim.
Sip slowly because it will be very hot and make sure not to drink too deep in your cup or you’ll get a gritty surprise from the collected grounds at the bottom!
The Armenian Way of Life
Coffee is routine for Armenians. Several cups are consumed throughout the day. In the morning, during work breaks, after meals, in the evening.
Whenever you are being hosted by someone, first there is coffee. It’s a social drink and symbolizes bonding and hospitality. As opposed to a cappuccino, which is made as a single-serving, Armenian coffee is shared and therefore comes the experience.
There’s an intimacy that is shared over coffee. I hold so many wonderful memories of sitting in my kitchen with my good friend Naira, who also happened to be my children’s nanny. We would share the coffee and just talk.
But here is exactly my point: the fact that each tiny corner of the world has their own take on the wonderful bitter brew is one of the basic similarities that connect us as human beings.
Coffee is global. It is a human connection. Coffee (may not always be good) but it always is good.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, make sure to share and check out these other posts on Yerevan:
- Best Cafés in Yerevan
- 10 Things You Have To Do On Your Trip To Yerevan
- The First-Timer’s Guide to Visiting Yerevan
- Get to know: Armenia