Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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F O A M : N E W S + T R E N D S A TASTE OF IRAN'S COFFEE- BREWING MICROBUSES IF YOU CANÕT GET TO THE COFFEE, then the coffee will get to you. This is the premise behind the 1970s-esque coffee trend rolling through the streets of Iran capturing the fancy of a traditionally tea-loving populace. Two years ago, inspired entrepreneurs took to colorful Volkswagon microbuses to serve high-quality espresso drinks to Iranian coffee consumers and tourists alike. Though the buses are all independently owned from one another, their style and concepts are strikingly similar. Sporting bright paint jobs ranging from me- tallic fuchsia to sky blue, the buses have light chains strung along the side doors, and colorful chalkboards displaying the drink menu. Inside the trunk, which acts as the coffee bar, Polaroids of bus owners—and the buses themselves—are typically plastered along the walls. Some also have yarn tassels dangling from the ceiling, with the ones farthest back disappearing behind the steam clouds whenever milk is frothed for an upcoming latte. The aesthetic is about bright col- ors and trinkets, leaving the traditional Iranian patterns behind for something bohemian. The drinks, too, are anything but typical. The handwritten chalkboards offer coffee concoctions as alternative as the buses themselves. Along with some fellow journalists, I visited the Shazdeh café bus—the one that allegedly started it all. The vehicle is bright orange, and has an identical toy version of itself placed on the bar next to the espresso machine, which is often featured on the Instagram account dedicated to the bus. "The fi rst time I saw this car, I liked it very much, and I thought I could only have my business in this one, not any other," says Mojtaba Seteyesh, coffee enthusiast and owner of Shazdeh. He has a thick, well-groomed mustache curling at the tips, and perfectly circular glasses, tinted a slight purple. Mojtaba used to own a coffee shop catering to artists and musicians, which was closed by the government. So for the past two- and-a-half years, he's been taking his passion for coffee and all things boho to the streets. The chosen street today is near the entrance steps of the small bazaar in Kashan, a desert town with growing tourism. Although Kashan's center is farther up the steps, it's here that people are gathering. They drink coffee, smoke, and converse with the strang- ers next to them, sitting on the low wooden stools around the bus, surrounding Mojtaba. The idea for the bus came to Mojtaba when he was living as a pilgrim with his family. They lived near the holy shrines for some time, and he remembers watching cars transporting people from courtyard to courtyard. "I thought it would be a good idea to have such a car take coffee to people, instead of taking people from place A to B," says Mojtaba. "That was how the idea originated." Soon after, he installed an espresso machine in his car so he could travel without compromising the quality of his coffee, as well as share it with those he met on the road. The more people he met on his pilgrimage, the more people tried his coffee, and the more positive feedback he got. Eventually, Mojtaba bought the bus, and the opera- tion became Shazdeh café. As for the brew he's peddling, Mojtaba recently gave up on an Italian coffee in favor of experimenting with something fresher. He now imports his own green coffee and roasts it right there in the back of his van. "I take the quality of the coffee very seriously; I'm very sensitive to it," he says. The new roasting process is more pricey and time consuming, and has resulted in more working hours for Mojtaba, as well as—tempo- At top: Mojtaba Seteyesh poses in front of the coff ee service area of his vintage Volkswagen microbus, which he drives around the country as a mobile café. Mojtaba, who calls his bus Shazdeh, is one of many Iranians operating coff ee microbuses in Isfahan, Kashan, Rasht, and, of course, the capital city of Tehran. Below: Journalist Lise Coermann discusses which coff ee to buy with Shazdeh café's night-shi barista. Besides traditional coff ee, iced coff ee served from a hip fl ask is among the most popular orders. PHOTO BY EMMA BORK PHOTO COURTESY OF VALLEKILDE FOLK HIGH SCHOOL 22 barista magazine

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