Cafes and Cafe Culture in Iran
A cafe isn’t merely a place for eating or drinking. Cafes have always been places to get together and chat and also a place to make new friends. It was about 100 years ago that café culture replaced traditional teahouses, cafes became a relatively open environment for discussing political and social issues of the day. Accordingly, many well-known writers and artists of this land had made cafes, their hangout and spent time there with their fellow writers. In Iran, before cafes become popular, traditional teahouses and diners were quite popular and many people nowadays are still rather fond of these locations. About 300 years ago however, these places were more commonly used by men in order to chat, smoke a hookah or dine. But with the appearance of more modern-style cafes, women also attended these locations and a fresh era of Iranian night gatherings was born amongst Iranians.
Cafes aren’t considered as merely places to talk however; a person might go to a cafe and spend an hour or two there for a number of reasons. Everybody needs a quiet place with a relaxing atmosphere to get rid of the exhaustion of a tiring and bustling day at work. Having a hot cup of coffee in a cafe seems like an ideal alternative. One may even enjoy the traditional Iranian herbal teas or a simple cup of traditional Iranian tea . The Book cafes may also be found in many cities in Iran that are the perfect hangouts of reading enthusiasts who often gather in a book cafe in order to discuss the most recent book they have read. Cinema cafes have also found their way into the lives of many Iranian youths and have turned into favorable hangouts for movie enthusiasts and art students. You can watch newly released movies and later, discuss and evaluate it there or even spend a couple of hours watching a live performance playing by art students. For video game fanatics, gaming cafes (also known as game-nets) are the best place to shut out and stay away from the real world and get submerged in the virtual world of computer games. Cafes are also an ideal place for young musicians to perform live music and thus, become seen and known; so, most cafes have live musical performances as part of their daily schedule. Many young people have started to organize and hold parties such as birthday parties or graduation parties in cafes too. This trend has become extremely popular with those who are in favor of organizing surprise parties for others. The interior design and decoration of Iranian cafes is highly varied. Although there are still plenty of cafes that have rather traditional Iranian interior designs and light Iranian cuisines and desserts on their menu, but most modern Iranian cafes have adopted their interior designs and decorations based on famous international books or TV shows and movies such as “Friends” or “The Harry Potter Stories”.
Most importantly, it seems impossible not to visit an attractive cafe in a city to spend some time to relax in, once you travel to that city. Seeing the beautiful sunset over the ancient city of Kerman or listening to sound of the waves from the Persian Gulf or warming up beneath a Korsi, (which is a kind of transitional Iranian heater used in the winter), in a cafe while sipping on a cup of hot tea on a snowy day in Tabriz would undoubtedly be enjoyable.
In addition to being a good place to drink these days, Iranian cafes have also become a great place to host a variety of group activities such as parties, celebrations and even watching an important national football play. Remember the next time you come to Iran, be sure to visit one of the thousands of different cafes in Iran according to your taste.

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