Vegan, Fairtrade, Sustainable, Organic Coffee in Tehran
So anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge coffee person! When I travel, I love getting my work done in nice, cosy cafes with a big, steaming soy cappuccino. However, I feel it would be hypocritical of me, given my non profit work, to drink conventional coffee. I know this sounds super elitist and pretentious, but coffee is one of the most unethical trades in the entire world — and my opinion is that if I can’t afford to pay for the fair trade stuff, then I can’t afford to buy it, period. If buying organic coffee from workers who are paid fairly is too much, then think about how it is for the people who make it. The conventional coffee trade is glorified slavery.
Some people spend money on alcohol – I don’t so for now, Ill be happy to dish out a few extra dollars for a luscious cup of organic, fair trade coffee! If you want to know why I choose not to consume dairy (and why you should consider plant-based options too), check out my blog post here.
In Iran, the movement for ethical/organic coffee is fairly new. Moreover, because of sanctions, American companies aren’t permitted to operate in the country. Most of the businesses are homegrown. But given the age of the population (70% under 30 and 50% under 25), this scene is growing rapidly. So I’ve compiled a list of the best sustainable or organic coffee shops in Iran for all of you travelers and locals looking for a cup of Joe!
1) Lamiz Coffee
Lamaze is my number one pick! I went to Lamiz on both my last two trips to Iran. There are seven branches in Tehran, and I also visited quite a large one in a shopping centre in Qom – a very pleasant surprise.
The first time, soy milk was a regular offering. The second time, I was told that not enough people asked for it so they have discontinued it for the time being. If you’re in town, ask them for a non-dairy option. If the movement grows enough, more and more cafes will start to accommodate.
Lamiz does excellent cappuccinos but their cold brew concentrate is exquisite–notes of vanilla and lavender acquiesce to create a stunning, aromatic brew.
2) Sam Cafe:
Sam Cafe is one of the most popular franchises among students. You will see a lot of youngpeople studying, working and socializing there. However, note that some of the branches have nicer environments than others. This branch in Shahrake Gharb has a nice modern and minimalist environment — perfect for working.
When I asked about vegan options, this is the response I received:
“We currently do not offer soy milk or any non-dairy options, but we serve the highest quality coffee which you can enjoy black (or as an americano, espresso, etc). We have some cold drinks that are vegan. You can make modifications to our salads (ie removing the cheese) to make them vegan. We do not have vegan deserts at this time, but we are aware of the increasing demands for vegan options, and are in the processing of adding vegan friendly items to our menu.”
3) Cinema Cafe
This cafe is located in Cinema Museum — a site that I highly recommend for both locals and tourists in Iran! The Museum itself has so much to see and is fun for anyone. It is located on a complex, along with a few shops selling ‘cultural’ items and souvenirs, as well as two cafes (the Cinema Cafe is the one located indoors). They serve organic food and they even have a delicious, vegan apple pie! There are tons of smoothies, herbal drinks (with a Persian flair — think saffron, rosewater, Persian herbs, etc), and other Persian classics, such as the drink pictured below made with chia seeds.
4) Roberto Cafe
Roberto cafe was founded in 2009 as a tribute to Roberto Galperti for all his “support and guidance generously provided to all 100 employees here”. The motto is “no strangers here, just people we’ve never met” — and that pretty well sums up the vibe. Think colorful, vibrant and friendly. Like many of these new, hip cafes, eco-consciousness, sustainability, civic engagement and creativity are major themes. The cups are recyclable and the walls are covered with information about sustainable/organic coffee and environmentalism.
The cafe encourages patrons to cycle and keep their bike in the cafe while they sit back and enjoy a quality coffee. They source their beans from RAW Coffee Company. RAW is an amazing, ethically traded and 100% organic company we have in Dubai as well.
Their social media game is on point! If you follow @secretsquirrelfood on Instagram, you might have seen that she came in and did a demo here as well!
There are plenty of seats for studying but I highly recommend coming here for brunch. For the non vegans, you will find typical brunch fare such as waffles, panini and poached eggs.Vegan options include chia pudding with fruit and granola, bircher muesli as well as fresh smoothies and juices. The Espresso Balls below are raw vegan – but if you want to make some at home you can try my fat-free, raw vegan and sugar free choco-date bliss balls or neurogenetic chocolate chia seed pudding!
There is a blackboard on the wall with lots of pictures, mantras, quotes, and a note saying “welcome to our comfortable, happy + full of love cafe”. A must-see!
5) Espriss Cafe
Espriss is famous for its pretty amazing architecture and design — but it also has great quality coffee (Segafredo) and a nice offering of Italian food. Personally, I prefer the newer, organic eco-coffee brands (e.g. Raw, above), but the classic Italian brands, such as Lavazzo or Segafredo, are good. As for vegan options, I don’t think there is much other than smoothies. Notwithstanding, this place is a must visit for the design alone. It was granted an Architectural Award in 2015, and you can see why. I have no doubt that in the future they will start to accommodate veganism, as long as demand continues to grow.
Espriss is located in Nejatollahi street in centre of Tehran surrounded by Iranian handicrafts shops.
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