Baku, Azerbaijan. The city in which the paths of the East and West cross. A blend of Europe and Asia, where tea and coffee cultures meet.
For centuries, the capital’s residents have sipped on sweet black tea, typically served with pastries and desserts. Today, however, specialty coffee is increasingly common and the Old Town boasts several third wave cafés.
So, when you visit our fairy-tale city, take the time to stop by my four favorite specialty coffee shops.
You might also like: A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Istanbul
The path from farm to cup in United Coffee Beans. Credit: Elmar Mustafazadeh
Why These Four?
The specialty coffee market in Baku is fairly new, but it’s vibrant. In fact, a new café opens almost every month and they’re all unique in some way. This makes it difficult to pick just four favourites, and impossible to say which are the “best” coffee shops in the city.
However, as a local, I love every single place that made it onto my final list – and I’m sure you will, too.
United Coffee Beans, an Australian roastery and café. Credit: Elmar Mustafazadeh
1. United Coffee Beans (UCB)
United Coffee Beans has only been open since January, but it has already become popular with Baku’s coffee lovers. Settle down into a chair with a specialty latte or pour over and take the time to look around. Handmade decorations, wooden detailing, and pot plants add a charming touch. And the homey vibes make it the perfect place to spend an hour or two, whether you’re reading a book or hanging out with friends.
The Master Roaster’s Choice, a cold brew cocktail served at UCB. Credit: Elmar Mustafazadeh
|Where||Yusif Mammadaliyev Str. 6|
|Atmosphere||Young, fun, and welcoming|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco Linea AV|
|Grinder||Espresso – Mazzer Super Jolly & Mini
Filter – Baratza Encore
|Roaster||Parviz Dadashev roasts in-house on a Has Garanti HGS 5|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso – Blend or single origin
Filter – Single origin
|Must-Try Drink||Cold brew bar specialties|
|Retail Offerings||Coffee beans|
|Food & Other Drinks||Sandwiches, salads, pastries, cookies, and teas|
|Nearby Sights||The National Museum of History of Azerbaijan|
2. 95 Degrees Coffee & Bruschetta
The name might be the temperature of a perfectly brewed coffee but this place is decidedly cool. Its stylish interior combines Azerbaijani historical heritage with a cosy design.
When you walk in, you’ll be struck by the distinctive paintings on the wall. They’re an homage to Gobustan Rock Art, a series of 12,000-year-old rock carvings that have UNESCO World Heritage Site status. (Feeling inspired? The site is just an hour from Baku, so you can easily make a day trip out of it.)
But even if prehistoric rock art isn’t your thing, you’ll still love 95 Degrees. The comfortable atmosphere and smell of freshly brewed coffee is a recipe for a great day.
Craft style with a Gobustan touch at 95 Degrees. Credit: Elmar Mustafazadeh
|Where||Fikret Amirov Str. 1|
|Atmosphere||Friendly and cosy|
|Espresso Machine||Nuova Simonelli Aurelia 2|
|Grinder||Espresso – Anfim Caimano
Filter – Baratza Sette 270
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso – Ethiopian blend
Filter – Single origin
|Must-Try Drink||Salted Caramel Latte and Black Tonic|
|Food & Other Drinks||Bruschetta, pastries, wine, and teas|
|Nearby Sights||House of Government and the large Azadliq Square, which over the years has been the site of several protests, demonstrations, and even revolutionary concerts|
95 degrees’ distinctive style is recognizable even when the Gobustan paintings are out of sight (hint: look to the bottom left). Credit: Elmar Mustafazadeh
3. REA Coffee
REA Coffee’s minimalism is a welcome break from the city-centre bustle. Its simplicity and light colors leave you instantly soothed as you walk through the door. But it’s not just the decor that’s great. Take the time to enjoy a cup of delicious coffee, roasted by Azerbaijani small batch roasers Kofetetarea – it’s the perfect pick-me-up on a day of sightseeing and shopping.
Inside REA coffee in Baku. Credit: REA Coffee
|Where||Zeynalabdin Tagiyev Str. 27|
|Atmosphere||Friendly and peaceful|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco Strada EP|
|Grinder||Espresso – Mazzer Super Jolly
Filter – Mazzer ZM
Retail – Baratza Encore
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso – Seasonal espresso blend from Kofetetarea
Filter – Single origins, also from Kofetetarea
|Must-Try Drink||The AeroPress or Chemex|
|Food & Other Drinks||Pastries, cookies, and teas|
|Nearby Sights||The delightful Fountains Square, sometimes called Parapets by locals|
4. Vinyl Gastro Café
This atmospheric spot is known for its Russian and Azerbaijani specialty coffee roasts. But although it’s a great place to enjoy an espresso or pour over, Vinyl is far more than just a third wave coffee shop. European food, creative cocktails and mocktails, and the sound of vinyl records playing in the background – it’s the perfect harmony.
Oh, and did we mention that you can buy some of those vinyl records, too?
Retro vibes meet modern design at Vinyl Records. Credit: Elmar Mustafazadeh
|Where||Uzeyir Hacibeyov str.62, Marine Plaza|
|Atmosphere||Cozy and intimate|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco Linea Classic|
|Grinder||Espresso – Mahlkonig K30 Air
Filter – Mahlkonig EK43
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso – Square Mile espresso blend
Filter – Single origins from Brew Russian Family Coffee Roasters and Square Mile
|Must-Try Drink||Their signature non-alcoholic Raf Beer and Immersion Martini|
|Retail Offerings||Vinyl records|
|Food & Other Drinks||Cocktails, food, and pastries|
|Nearby Sights||Marina Plaza and the striking Port Baku Residence|
Filter coffee for two at Vinyl Gastro Café. Credit: Elmar Mustafazadeh
Baku is full of great cafés, but these four coffee houses have become my personal favorites. Give them a try – they might also become yours!
Written by Timur Lyapin. Feature photo credit: Elmar Mustafazadeh
All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, who is a local of Baku, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance.
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