an oasis of espresso in bukhara, uzbekistan


Regardless of where I travel, my running internal commentary is “hmmm… that would be a nice place for a café.” I am usually thinking this in countries that have little regard for those of us who enjoy an espresso every few hours. This is generally not a problem in Europe or North America, but in Central Asia, Uzbekistan in particular, this was surely the case.

As I roamed the streets of Bukhara, a city of approximately 250,000, my internal espresso narrative was constant. Known as Central Asia’s holiest city, the Bukhara city center is full of ancient fortresses, medressas [schools], and other structures that speak to the more than a thousand years of the city’s complex history. Among these ancient structures can be found plenty of tea, but no proper espresso. Or so I thought.

Enter Gertrud, an enterprising web designer from Germany who, like me, wondered why a proper espresso could not be found in Bukhara. While I am simply blogging about it, she actually did something about it. Like a coffee lover’s Shangri-La, thanks to Gertrud, Café Wishbone appeared to me just when I needed it most.

Café Wishbone can be found on the edge of a small square, a few steps above an as of yet nonfunctioning fountain, with a pleasant view of the square and traditional Central Asian architecture of the Hotel Shaxriston across the way. Gertrud spent considerable time and effort navigating the Uzbek bureaucracy to open this café with a local business partner and to import the finest coffee beans possible from Germany. Her efforts have resulted in much happiness for intrepid coffee-loving travelers in Bukhara.

At Café Wishbone an espresso will cost you 4000 s’om [approx. US$1.50], a cappuccino 6500 s’om [approx. US$2.50], and a latte 7000 s’om [approx. US$2.75]. Paying partial homage to its German roots, there you can also get fruit milkshakes, cheesecake, marble cake and pancakes stuffed with fruit and cottage cheese. Soft drinks and other assorted cakes are also available.

I spent a few hours at Café Wishbone, watching the local Uzbeks walk by and listening to many of the café’s patrons speak German. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the cool early autumn wind was a welcome companion to the traditional Uzbek music that could be heard in the distance. If you are ever in Bukhara, Café Wishbone should be on your “must go” list. If you do, tell Gertrud I said hello.

Note: you can find “Café Wishbone, Bukhara” on Facebook.