Like many other cultures in the world, Armenia has their own unique take on coffee. Armenian coffee is an exquisitely flavorful, strong brew, ideal for even the pickiest coffee connoisseurs.
The art of producing an authentic Armenian cup of “gavat” has been perfected across generations of Armenians. The Armenian word for coffee is “surj”, or to be specific, “Haykakan surj”, meaning literally “Armenian coffee”. The style is similar throughout the Mediterranean and is served usually with only sugar added, and no milk.
It’s concentrated and powerful, almost like a shot of espresso. However, the Armenian coffee is milled much finer than espresso ground and feels more like a powder than the granules.
The coffee powder is mixed directly with carefully measured water and sugar, then heated over a flame, or coals in a special coffee pot called a “Jazzve”’ until the crema rises. If it over-boils, the crema will dissipate, and the taste will be off. So, you must get that sweet spot where it boils, but not too much.
The “Jazzve” coffee pots are usually made of copper or other metal, usually with a long wooden handle. These coffee pots come in many different sizes and ornamentation. The large variety of the “Jazzve”s is sold at the Vernissage, the largest open air market in the capital city of Armenia, Yerevan.
Then, the brewed coffee is served in adorable tiny 3 oz cups - its bold, full-bodied taste is indescribable, and any true coffee lover will tell the difference in quality of the Armenian coffee. The consistency of this coffee is thicker than most other types of coffee, and because Armenian coffee is unfiltered, one must wait for the grounds to fall to the bottom before drinking (this is what leaves the residue for the coffee reading).
Though the centuries-old coffee reading tradition isn’t as popular as it once was, people today still wish to carry on the tradition and have their fortunes read through their coffee cup. Before you wash your cup, turn it upside down on the saucer, and let the residue drip down on the sides of the cup for a few minutes. This triggers the creation of various shapes and symbols, which appear to be helpful for foretelling of your future!
Coffee is routine for Armenians. Several cups are consumed throughout the day. In the morning, during work breaks, after meals, and in the evening. Whenever you are being hosted by someone Armenian - first there is coffee. It’s a social drink and symbolizes bonding and hospitality of Armenian people, it is a chance to relax and have a good conversation.
If you’re ever traveling in Armenia, visit one of the popular Yerevan’s coffee shops with their waft of the most heavenly smell, selling freshly roasted coffee beans daily. This unique experience will leave you with unforgettable memories from Armenia!