The history of drinking coffee in Iran goes back to the ninth century AD when the Sufis used the drink to help them stay up for overnight rituals. The drink became very popular in Safavid era in the 16th century when a well-known pharmacist wrote a treatise on the characteristics of coffee, presenting it to one of the Safavid rulers.The popularity wore off over time as coffee was only drunk in certain cafes and by certain people. However in recent years, coffee drinking and going to cafes have picked up again in Iran, especially among the youth. Nowadays, different types of coffee are professionally served in hundreds of cafes in Tehran as well as other Iranian cities.One of the first people who professionally worked in the coffee business in modern times is Farhad Za’fari who established the first institute in the country to train baristas and café staff. He is also the author of a number of books on food, drinks and café management. One of his books is currently on the curriculum of Iran Technical and Vocational Training Organization. He is also the founder of a chain cafés with 44 branches across the country.Before coffee was known in many countries, the Iranians drank it. Despite the fact that the drink has been popular in our country for centuries, Iran’s share in the multi-billion-dollar global trade of coffee and coffee industry is almost nil, said Zafari in an exclusive interview with Financial Tribune. “Although tea is a more popular beverage in Iran, coffee has its own enthusiasts. I and my colleagues are working to enhance the quality of coffee served in the country,” he said.According to Za’fari, since the coffee regained its popularity and thousands of coffee shops mushroomed across the capital and other big cities, a multitude of jobs have been created in the industry pertaining to import and maintenance of coffee machines, decorating cafes and barista training courses.Today, when someone with 1-2 billion rials (30-60 thousand US dollars based on market rate) in capital refers to an investment consulting company, they will often be advised to open a coffee shop, which according to Za’fari, has a guaranteed high return on investment.Za’fari, the founder and owner of Sadaf Coffee Shop, emphasized that if the industry is seen as a whole, thousands of related jobs have so far been created. “Since 26 years ago, when I started training baristas, thousands of young talented people have been trained here and hundreds of them are now the owners of famous cafes with high incomes, he said.”Zafari said he has also registered companies in Turkey, the UAE and Azerbaijan, adding that increasing the number of chains in other countries could generate considerable revenues for the country.