Some about qahve(h)xâne(h)

In Iran and Afghanistan, going to a café is an almost recent activity. We usually prefer to get together in our houses or parks, and prepare food together. Traditionally, we have teahouses, qahve(h)xâne(h) in Persian, which are mostly places where men get together to drink tea and smoke hookah. Teahouses are very different from what we can call a café. People sit on the beds which are covered by carpets and lean against big traditional cushions, called pošti in Farsi. As it comes to everyone’s mind, the word “qahve(h)xâne(h)” refers to a place in which “qahve(h)”, coffee in English, is served while in reality no one can find “qahve(h)” in “qahve(h)xâne(h)”.  Although going to a café in small towns and villages is still rare, teahouses these days are giving their place to cafés and coffee shops in big cities like Tehran, Yazd, Kabul, etc.

A Brief History of Café in Iran

The establishment of the first modern cafés in Tehran dates back to Reza Shah Time, in late 1930s but it took almost seven decades for coffee shops to become common places for gatherings especially among younger generation. So, cafés and coffee shops in Iran and Afghanistan are almost same as the ones you can find everywhere around the world with slight differences. Here our focus is mostly on coffee shops.

  •  In Iran, you cannot find the chain cafés like Starbucks. Everything is local and there is no specific brand with more than a couple of branches. Therefore, the menu and the taste of coffee and tea can totally vary from one place to the other. Some coffee shops serve only coffee and tea with cakes and cookies. But in most of them, you can find various types of herbal tea, damnuš in Persian, or sweet traditional drinks called “šarbat” in Farsi.
  •  Iran is a country with tea culture, so drinking coffee is used to be considered as luxurious and also symbol of intellectualism. Drinking coffee is more common among Armenians who brought it to Iran while immigrating. So the best café are owned or managed by Armenians who are usually respected minorities in Iran because they have brought modern painting, music and new cultural perspectives to this country.
.jpg - Café in Iran

In Iranian Cafés

Since coffee culture associates with something non-Iranian, coffee is usually expensive compared to other edible stuffs. For instance, a cup of cappuccino, not necessarily as good as an Italian one, is more than 1$ while a big portion of “qorme(h) sabzi”, an Iranian dish with rice, a large amount of herbs, beans, meat and five hours of cooking, costs just 2$. So if you are a coffee addict, you’d better be prepared to pay unreasonable prices for coffee or to travel throughout Iran as a chance to quit your addiction and drink Iranian tasty herbal teas.

Alcohol is another thing you can stop drinking in Iran. Serving alcoholic beverages is forbidden in this country. However, you can find modified versions of alcoholic drinks in most of the coffee shops. As far as we know, the most favorable ones among non-Iranians travelling in Iran are non-alcoholic bear, mojito and cocktail.  Moreover, you can enjoy drinking traditional drinks which are made of fruits, herbs and seeds.

Menu and Orders in Persian

English Pronunciation Farsi Sound
menu meno مِنو
bill surat hesâb صورتحِساب
tea čây چای  
coffee qahve(h) قَهوه   
sugar šekar شِکَر  
milk šir شیر
herbal tea damnuš دَمنوش
sweet (cold) drinks šarbat شَربَت
water âb آب
fruit mive(h) میوه  
juice âbmive(h) آبمیوه  
apple sib سیب  
orange porteqâl پُرتِقال  
banana moz موز  
strawberry tut-farangi توت فَرَنگی
mango anbe(h) اَنبه
peach holu هُلو
pomegranate anâr اَنار
melon tâlebi طالبی
watermelon hendevâne(h) هِندِوانه
carrot havij هَویج
cakes keyk کِیک
cookies kluče(h) کُلوچه
biscuit biskuit بیسکوئیت
ice-cream bastani بَستَنی
chocolate šokolât شُکُلات
cup fenjân فنجان
glass livân لیوان
spoon qâšoq قاشُق
fork čangâl چَنگال
knife čaqu چاقو
tissue dastmâl دَستمال
salty šur شور
sour torš تُرش
bitter talx تَلخ
sweet širin شیرین
with …. bâ …. با
without …. bedun-e ….. بِدونِ
excuse me! bebaxšid بِبَخشید
I want a …. man ye ……  mixâm من یه …… می­ خام
I eat ……/ I drink …. man …. mixoram من …… می ­خورم
I need a ….. man yek … lâzem dâram من یه …. لازم دارَم
can you bring me…. miše ye ….. barâ-ye man biyârid می شه یه ….. برای من بیارید
can you change this … miše in …. ro avaz konid می شه این …. رو عوض کنید؟
I want a coffee with milk man ye qahve(h) ba šir mixâm

من یه قهوه با شیر می­خام

can you bring me the bill miše surathesâb-e man o biyârid میشه صورت­حساب من رو بیارید