Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

The coffee converts of Kabul

AFGHANISTAN: Afghans in need of a caffeine fix line up at Najibullah Sharyari’s coffee cart in Kabul – converts to the drink that is now percolating in a country obsessed with tea for centuries.


Sunday 1 April 2018, 10:15AM

Najibullah Sharyari (cente), 30, prepares coffee for customers at his cart in Kabul. Afghans in need of a caffeine fix line up at Sharyari’s coffee cart in Kabul, converts to the bitter-tasting drink that is now percolating in a country which has been obsessed with tea for centuries. Photo: Shah Marai / AFP

Najibullah Sharyari (cente), 30, prepares coffee for customers at his cart in Kabul. Afghans in need of a caffeine fix line up at Sharyari’s coffee cart in Kabul, converts to the bitter-tasting drink that is now percolating in a country which has been obsessed with tea for centuries. Photo: Shah Marai / AFP

Standing on a noisy street among vendors hawking their wares, the 30-year-old barista serves takeaway instant coffee from a mobile machine at his New York-style cart for as little as 28 cents (B8.71) a cup.

Coffee is the “best medicine” to cope with the daily grind in the overcrowded, polluted and war-torn city, insists Sharyari, pouring Nescafe into a fake Starbucks cup for a customer as honking cars crawl past his stand.

The uninitiated often ask for tea, he says, before explaining: “We tell them they can have tea at home. There is a big difference between a cup of tea and a cup of coffee – coffee is better.”

Sharyari’s coffee cart – one of several he operates around the sprawling Afghan capital – is an oddity in a city where most people drink tea and cafes are often protected by armed guards and hidden from view behind blast walls and steel doors.

Afghanistan was introduced to tea because of its location on the ancient Silk Road, and today remains one of the world’s largest tea consumers per capita.

The drink is integral to the country’s famed culture of hospitality, with guests offered a cup of green tea – often infused with aromatic cardamom pods, and a piece of sugar on the side – as they enter homes and offices.

It is ubiquitous at the table regardless of whether the meal being served is breakfast, lunch or dinner.

But coffee has the power to pull people out of their daily routine, according to the aficionados at Sharyari’s cart.

“Whenever I go to university I take this street just to drink a cup of coffee while I’m walking,” university student Sayed Millad Hashimi said.

Sharyari launched his business four years ago in the relatively prosperous northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, investing 50,000 Afghanis (B22,562) in a couple of coffee machines from neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Its success saw him expand to Kabul, where he says he has eight machines and serves more than 1,500 customers per day.

The sight of steam rising from the cart and the rich smell brew excitement apart from the impending jolt of caffeine, says a government worker named Mujiburrahman, rubbing his hands in anticipation.

“I am also happy to see our people getting creative and create job opportunities,” the young and sharply dressed customer says.

Selling coffee on the streets of Kabul – one of the deadliest places for civilians in the country, where blast walls and traffic choke the roads – is a different prospect from Mazar, which Sharyari says is relatively peaceful and has a vibrant street life.

But in the capital there are grounds for buying your coffee at a street cart, which is accessible to residents in a way that fancier cafes hidden behind layers of security are not.

Rahim, a taxi driver, pulls up to the vendor and calls for coffee with milk without even leaving his car.

“There is no parking lot in this crowded downtown, we cannot park our cars to go to a coffee shop or restaurant,” the 45-year-old says.

“But (it) is easy here, just slam the brake, stop, pick a cup of coffee and go,” he adds.

Security remains a concern. On January 27 one of the deadliest bomb blasts in the capital since 2001 killed more than 100 people just a few hundred metres from Sharyari’s cart, he says.

“I was shocked but Kabul is such a resilient city,” he muses. “The next day the people were in the streets again and it was business as usual.”



Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters

Rorri_2 | 01 April 2018 - 16:46:56

April Fools joke, or not, it comes under the "World News" section. I know many believe "Phuket", or Thailand, as a whole, are the "world", but, in reality, they are not.

Jor12 | 01 April 2018 - 15:58:16

The story is under "World" attention.

DeKaaskopp | 01 April 2018 - 15:22:50

"And what has this to do with Phuket or Thailand?" Really? Nothing at all.Maybe that's why it was published in the world news section!

moskito | 01 April 2018 - 12:10:31

And what has this to do with PHUKET? or THAILAND? 
yesterday it was reported a bag of rice fell down in south China...thats news
if this is an april hoax its a boring one

Have a news tip-off? Click here


Phuket community
Phuket pharmacists up in arms over Drugs Act

What is so puzzling about what the legislation proscribes? What is puzzling is why a military junta ...(Read More)

American tourist in ICU after Krabi rock climbing fall

As a patient (since deceased) or relative of the deceased, one would be mortified to read comments c...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: The world is watching us

If the Thai basher would only read the article, it was not Thai's worried about international pe...(Read More)

Poor service quality dogs airport ranking

Hire foreign professionals to upgrade Suvarnabhumi airport. Abroad many countries do that a few year...(Read More)

Over 1,000 arrested in Phuket ‘Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner’ clampdown

Question again: Where are these 1463 foreigners hold presently until they get deported? Not in Phuke...(Read More)

New Phuket Provincial Prison reaches half-way mark

Phuket Town prison, built for 750 prisoners. Now holding a total of 3131 prisoners! To say that the...(Read More)

Phuket Vegetarian Festival takes to the streets

I am well aware as would most intelligent people of the implications of the devotees in this festiva...(Read More)

Poor service quality dogs airport ranking

Thailand's bullheaded bureaucracies will ensure that nothing changes. As the AoT continues to m...(Read More)

Cocaine, heroin popular among specific groups in Patong, police play down claim

When a town police chief plays down a Vice Governor we face a Phuket authority struggle. And for the...(Read More)

Phuket pharmacists up in arms over Drugs Act

Well, this whole affair/plan is already off the table, but I was puzzled by the term "health p...(Read More)


Melbourne Cup 2018