Tucked away on Sherbrooke street is the coziest coffee shop in Shaughnessy Village. Captivating with it’s warm atmosphere and inviting staff, Cafe Aunja (1448 Rue Sherbrooke O) is buzzing with students and artists alike. Aunja—meaning “the place” or “the coffee shop” in Farsi—is owned by Hamed and Elham, a young, creative couple from Iran.
“Aunja opened its doors on July 27, 2013, and its concept is to create the same cozy and comfortable atmosphere one could feel at home.” The floors are a dark vintage wood and the walls are covered with a soft beige pattern, often enclosed with art from local talents.
Most of the furniture, including the bar, was handmade by Hamed, who is a product designer and photographer. “Each table is made of a different wood, making every table unique and full of character, there’s maple, cherry, oak. No two tables are the same.” The ceilings are lined with patio string lights, attributing to the aesthetics of the cafe; at a first glance, one is immediately enchanted with the warmth of the setting.
Aunja is popular for almost everything they offer, from their delicious daily soups, to their savoury homemade deserts. But some of the most popular items on the menu are their Signature Teasans, each flavour inspired by the many exotic areas Hamed and Elham lived in, such as Bali and Istanbul. “Tea is very popular in Iran; the original inspiration for the teasans comes from Iran.”
Next to the bar is a wall of wonders, there are vintage cameras and captivating books ranging from photography to culture. There is also a huge selection of teas referred to as the mix and match section. “We have a mix and match section where clients can make their own tea without restrictions to the quantity, they are fully trusted to create their own tea.” This is extremely popular, giving cafe-goers the chance to master their individual and unique taste.
Aunja is known for its many art exhibitions—they regularly host live performances like poetry night, theatre and book clubs and they always display art on the walls by local talent. For Nuit Blanche, Aunja had over 40 artists, including visual performances and interactive arts featured in the cafe. Occasionally, Aunja assembles workshops for photography, creative writing, poetry, painting, or virtually anything creative. Some of these workshops can last a whole day, or even two months. (You can inquire about those workshops by email or at the coffee shop.)
In the future, Aunja plans on finding local artisans who craft and make jewelry to display in the store. They have also begun experimenting with some delicious drink combinations.