Located only a few steps from the iconic Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv is Nahat, which translates loosely to comfort, or contentment—close to the Yiddish word naches. Indeed, despite being in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the central city, this cafe and micro-roaster, which opened its doors in January 2015, tries to give its customers a feeling of being at home. Viewed by its two co-founders, Dan Urieli and Assaf Bitton, as a “coffee saloon”, their shop is inspired by the 18th-century English coffeehouse tradition. The cafe reflects eclectic influences, including contemporary world specialty coffee culture, older European roots, and the local Mediterranean tastes and laid-back atmosphere.
“I had a plan ready for almost seven years,” says Urieli, while operating the shop's Bauhaus TLV espresso machine, “but had to wait until the local scene was mature enough.” In the past two to three years, a handful of cafes and micro-roasters started to appear in Tel Aviv and the local taste seems to be changing.
Both Urieli and Bitton switch between the bar, roasting, and blending at the rear and waiting the two-dozen tables set inside and outside the cafe. They use a two-kilogram Solar Shop roaster by Coffee-Tech Engineering set beside the bar, spreading aromas across the cafe space—the machine is a common sight in Tel Avivian specialty cafes.
Four single-origin choices and four blends, of which one is decaf, are available. They also offer a large variety of mostly vegetarian small dishes, most notably the Assaf sandwich, named after Bitton, which includes organic cranberry spelt bread, tahini, reduced balsamic vinegar, beet, kohlrabi, carrot, and alfalfa sprouts.
The coffee varies between light to medium roasts, with the latter being more popular. Urieli explains that “roasting and blending is like tailoring. You have to fit the coffee to the local tastes and habits, but there are only specific textiles you would use, and specific stitches you can sew.” Their roasts tend to be full-bodied and chocolaty, with the excellent house blend being balanced but with a distinct delicate acidity.
The welcoming atmosphere Urieli and Bitton have created, along with their excellent coffee, probably makes Nahat the most popular specialty cafe in town right now. As such, it serves a purpose beyond just serving good coffee—it expands the city's cultural, and culinary, boundaries.
Yonatan Berman is a freelance journalist based in Tel Aviv, Israel. This is Yonatan Barman’s first feature for Sprudge Media Network.