Iranians Warm Up to Coffee

Auto & Tech Desk
Iranians Warm Up to Coffee
Iranians Warm Up to Coffee

Dublin is set to host in June the World Barista Championship -- an international coffee competition that is held every year to promote excellence in coffee.

Champions representing more than 50 nations each prepare espressos, milk beverages, as well as signature drinks to exacting standards and present them in 15-minute performances set to music.

Certified judges from around the world evaluate performance on the taste of beverages served, cleanliness, creativity, technical skill, and overall presentation.

One of the baristas to compete this year in Dublin is Iran’s Mansour Ehsani who came first in Iran’s Barista Competitions (IRIBC 2016) held in late April.

This will mark the second time that Iran will have a representative in an international barista event.

The 24-year-old finalist is studying optic and laser engineering, but has been in the coffee business for over two years.

He refers to himself as a coffee student and currently works at one of Tehran’s popular cafes 'Graph'. According to Ehsani, IRIBC 2016 was very stressful and the competitions tough but “we were able to harvest the seeds sown nine months ago.”

This is his second time in the national barista competitions. He is happy and excited, but at the same time "the responsibility of representing my country in WBC 2016 is a heavy burden.”

"I want to be a role-model and an ambassador of Iran's coffee community and at the same time try and learn more about coffee.”

He hopes Iranians will be able to drink and understand good coffee. This will happen in the near future, all that is needed is “passion and dedication in the coffee community.”

Another barista Saeed Abdinasab, 23, started out from washing dishes in a café and now teaches coffee preparation courses at the Taxi Coffee Group. IRIBC 2016 marked his fourth time in barista competitions.

“The competitions have improved from earlier times, resulting in higher levels of competition due to a general betterment of Iran's coffee industry.

Café Taxi Group is a holding that covers a range of areas including the distribution of coffee gear and accessories, “pretty much everything needed to equip a coffee shop,” Houman Amiri, the business owner says. The group has recently launched an application named Coffee Taxi that allows users to shop for coffee and coffee related accessories online.     

Iran’s coffee scene has rapidly evolved in the past few years.

Safa Haratian, 34, a coffee specialist, researcher and instructor launched the website in 2012 that is now the most comprehensive media outlet and database on coffee and is published in Persian.

An application was later added and the iCoffee app is now also available for devices running on iOs and Android. It includes a directory of cafes and offers educational courses for aspiring baristas.

Haratian is also the technical and sensory head judge of the national barista competitions in Iran in the category of Turkish coffee brewing methods known as Cezve and Ibrik.

He has attended several courses at the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) and is a contributor to Sprudge which publishes features highlighting coffee culture, news, and events since 2009.    

A total of 20 sensory and technical judges as well as three head judges including Teija Marika Lublinkhof from Zambia, oversaw the five-day contest in which 30 baristas participated, and six made it to the final round.

Haratian says the event "showed us that specialty coffee is becoming popular in Iran" and more baristas are warming up to the idea of specialty coffee, including women.