Dialects of Coffee at Innovate Armenia

For Immediate Release
USC INSTITUTE OF ARMENIAN STUDIES
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California, USA
Contact: Syuzanna Petrosyan, Associate Director
[email protected] | 213.821.3943
Dialects of Coffee at Innovate Armenia
“My ninety-two-year-old mother and I have a ritual of afternoon sourj and 
listening to her great Armenian stories, same as her and her mother once did. I 
cherish these as these are the moments I will live for years to come over a 
simple cup of sourj,” reads Hrag Kalebjian from a folded-up piece of paper he 
keeps in his wallet. 
Kalebjian received this note from a customer, and his viewpoint on Armenian 
coffee was changed forever. Kalebjian runs Henry’s House of Coffee in San 
Francisco -- one of two coffee roasters at INNOVATE ARMENIA. Along with 
musician and activist Serj Tankian’s new venture -  Kavat Coffee - they brewed 
over 5,000 free cups of Armenian coffee for thousands of festival goers.
Organized by the USC Institute of Armenian Studies on May 18, INNOVATE ARMENIA 
featured fifty participants, from six countries, and nearly 4,000 attendees. 
This is the fourth time in five years that this unique festival of ideas and 
action has been staged by the Institute.
The “Dialects of Coffee” space was new to INNOVATE ARMENIA this year. 
“The appetite for high quality coffee has been on the uptick for the past 
decade and Henry’s and Kavat present the age-old beverage to a new generation 
of drinkers,” said Silva Sevlian, associate director of the Institute.
Hundreds lined up to taste free samples of Armenian coffee from Henry’s House 
of Coffee and Kavat Coffee, while journalist Liana Aghajanian talked and 
recorded conversations about the memories that Armenian coffee evoked. 
“Coffee is a big part of Armenian culinary and social life, and it's a great 
example of how all kinds of narratives can be unraveled through one food,” 
Aghajanian said. “Innovate Armenia's ‘Dialects of Coffee’ provided the perfect 
opportunity to record these stories, many of which were touching, surprising 
and sometimes heartbreaking, too."
Aghajanian, an Armenian-American writer, documents the Armenian experience in 
America through food.  
The “Dialects of Coffee” recording space attracted many visitors, one of whom 
happened to be Kalebjian.
Since 1965, Kalebjian’s father, Henry Kalebjian, and his family have been 
roasting and serving coffee - now for three generations. Today, Hrag continues 
the tradition of serving Armenian coffee at Henry’s House of Coffee in San 
Francisco. 
When asked, “What is Armenian coffee?” Kalebjian said, “Obviously it’s the 
technique and preparation, but for me, the more important is the tradition 
that’s passed on from one person to the next.” 
Kavat Coffee, a new Armenian coffee brand, was also brewing their socially 
conscious, premium, ethically sourced and certified organic coffee.
“To have thousands of people from communities near and far taste our modern 
take on Armenian coffee at Innovate Armenia was a wonderful experience for us 
here at Kavat Coffee,” said George Tonikian, manager of operations at Kavat. 
“One of my favorite aspects of drinking Armenian coffee is the communal aspect 
to what is a daily ritual for so many of us.”
Those who tasted the Armenian coffee listened in on Aghajanian’s conversations 
next door. Many of them shared heartwarming and compelling stories about their 
own memories of coffee.  
“Armenian coffee is one of those things you drink that goes way deeper into 
[one’s] memory bank,” said Lara Vanian Green, host of the Armenian Enough 
podcast. 
Aghajanian, whose project Dining in Diaspora traces the intersection of cuisine 
and agriculture with genocide, immigration, and identity, said the global 
Armenian story is perfectly suited to be explored through cuisine. 
"For me, food is the most well understood language through which stories about 
history, politics, immigration, identity and a plethora of other subjects can 
be told,” she said. 
About the Institute
Established in 2005, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies supports 
multidisciplinary scholarship to re-define, explore and study the complex 
issues that make up the contemporary Armenian experience—from post-genocide to 
the developing Republic of Armenia to the evolving diaspora. The institute 
encourages research, publications and public service, and promotes links among 
the global academic and Armenian communities.
For inquiries, write to [email protected] or call 213.821.3943. 

Leave a Reply

Dialects of Coffee at Innovate Armenia

For Immediate Release
USC INSTITUTE OF ARMENIAN STUDIES
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California, USA
Contact: Syuzanna Petrosyan, Associate Director
[email protected] | 213.821.3943
Dialects of Coffee at Innovate Armenia
“My ninety-two-year-old mother and I have a ritual of afternoon sourj and 
listening to her great Armenian stories, same as her and her mother once did. I 
cherish these as these are the moments I will live for years to come over a 
simple cup of sourj,” reads Hrag Kalebjian from a folded-up piece of paper he 
keeps in his wallet. 
Kalebjian received this note from a customer, and his viewpoint on Armenian 
coffee was changed forever. Kalebjian runs Henry’s House of Coffee in San 
Francisco -- one of two coffee roasters at INNOVATE ARMENIA. Along with 
musician and activist Serj Tankian’s new venture -  Kavat Coffee - they brewed 
over 5,000 free cups of Armenian coffee for thousands of festival goers.
Organized by the USC Institute of Armenian Studies on May 18, INNOVATE ARMENIA 
featured fifty participants, from six countries, and nearly 4,000 attendees. 
This is the fourth time in five years that this unique festival of ideas and 
action has been staged by the Institute.
The “Dialects of Coffee” space was new to INNOVATE ARMENIA this year. 
“The appetite for high quality coffee has been on the uptick for the past 
decade and Henry’s and Kavat present the age-old beverage to a new generation 
of drinkers,” said Silva Sevlian, associate director of the Institute.
Hundreds lined up to taste free samples of Armenian coffee from Henry’s House 
of Coffee and Kavat Coffee, while journalist Liana Aghajanian talked and 
recorded conversations about the memories that Armenian coffee evoked. 
“Coffee is a big part of Armenian culinary and social life, and it's a great 
example of how all kinds of narratives can be unraveled through one food,” 
Aghajanian said. “Innovate Armenia's ‘Dialects of Coffee’ provided the perfect 
opportunity to record these stories, many of which were touching, surprising 
and sometimes heartbreaking, too."
Aghajanian, an Armenian-American writer, documents the Armenian experience in 
America through food.  
The “Dialects of Coffee” recording space attracted many visitors, one of whom 
happened to be Kalebjian.
Since 1965, Kalebjian’s father, Henry Kalebjian, and his family have been 
roasting and serving coffee - now for three generations. Today, Hrag continues 
the tradition of serving Armenian coffee at Henry’s House of Coffee in San 
Francisco. 
When asked, “What is Armenian coffee?” Kalebjian said, “Obviously it’s the 
technique and preparation, but for me, the more important is the tradition 
that’s passed on from one person to the next.” 
Kavat Coffee, a new Armenian coffee brand, was also brewing their socially 
conscious, premium, ethically sourced and certified organic coffee.
“To have thousands of people from communities near and far taste our modern 
take on Armenian coffee at Innovate Armenia was a wonderful experience for us 
here at Kavat Coffee,” said George Tonikian, manager of operations at Kavat. 
“One of my favorite aspects of drinking Armenian coffee is the communal aspect 
to what is a daily ritual for so many of us.”
Those who tasted the Armenian coffee listened in on Aghajanian’s conversations 
next door. Many of them shared heartwarming and compelling stories about their 
own memories of coffee.  
“Armenian coffee is one of those things you drink that goes way deeper into 
[one’s] memory bank,” said Lara Vanian Green, host of the Armenian Enough 
podcast. 
Aghajanian, whose project Dining in Diaspora traces the intersection of cuisine 
and agriculture with genocide, immigration, and identity, said the global 
Armenian story is perfectly suited to be explored through cuisine. 
"For me, food is the most well understood language through which stories about 
history, politics, immigration, identity and a plethora of other subjects can 
be told,” she said. 
About the Institute
Established in 2005, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies supports 
multidisciplinary scholarship to re-define, explore and study the complex 
issues that make up the contemporary Armenian experience—from post-genocide to 
the developing Republic of Armenia to the evolving diaspora. The institute 
encourages research, publications and public service, and promotes links among 
the global academic and Armenian communities.
For inquiries, write to [email protected] or call 213.821.3943. 

Leave a Reply