On Virmenska Street, which is one of the oldest in Lviv, in the house at 19, there is a cult cafe - Virmenka. Since 1979, residents and guests of Lviv have always come to a place without which it is difficult to imagine the profile of the street. Coffee in a cezve with a branded liqueur and a platform are the associations that attract here and remain on the taste map of memory.
Virmenka is a combination of habitual senior visitors, informal in the past, and artists by vocation with students of culturology and tourists of sarafan radio, eager to validate the stories of acquaintances about coffee in Lviv.
Here you will not find Chemex, Kalita, Aeropress, etc. However, it is worth noting the traditional Turkish coffee in the institution, recognized as "the best cafe in Lviv" according to the Lviv coffee festival 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Location and territory
It is difficult not to get on Virmenska Street while in Lviv. Next to the coffee shop, there are postmodern art spaces Dzyga, Zelena Kanapa, Pravda, IconArt and others, which sporadically appear and disappear as well as trends in contemporary art.
The context of the institution's existence is connected with its visitors of the 80s and 90s: hippies, artistic youth, historians, artists and musicians. Today, they drink nostalgia for 100% Arabica from Ethiopia, cooked in a cezve on sand (sometimes a liqueur, or even a liqueur without coffee).
Book presentations and literary evenings are arranged in some places in the cult institution.
Taste coffee on the small terrace outside will be a good place to contemplate the street, of course, if it does not rain, hail, snow, or the desire to hurry.
Design, concept and tradition
A few years ago, the building was restored by Mark Savytskyi (SAVYTSKYYdesign) and received an even more attractive wrapper of the traditional concept of the old cafe with the main emphasis on detail. Therefore, the '80s can be seen only in old photos located on the walls of Virmenka, or feel in the stories of once active and unusual youth.
Coffee "on the sand"
Coffee in a cezve (Turkish), brewed in the sand, is sold on Virmenska Street from the first morning open and is still popular. After all, Lviv coffee shops do not do the third wave "like at home".
You will be waiting for coffee in front of the bar while Uncle Myron is circling the cezve among the heated quartz sand on which it is prepared. The choice of coffee beans is optional, you will be surprised, but with speciality - everything is fine. Espresso-based coffee is also available. Do you want to order Americano?
Do not be surprised if you are asked in such a tone as if you ordered a non-canonical recipe at the espresso bar in Naples. You will not find pate, macaroons, or croissants here but branded cakes, cheesecakes and almond cookies. It is appropriate to drink coffee in Armenia not with orange juice, smoothie or distilled soft water but with something stronger, such as branded liqueur "Old Lviv".
History, hippies and Alik
Without special colours in the same palette as other establishments left from the past, Virmenka would not have been able to become a cult cafe in Lviv. What happened for almost half a century?
1979 - the doors of the coffee shop opened for the first time. Thanks to the good location, good coffee and a small offer of establishments, artists and young people came here in a wave. In the 80s, Virmenka became a favourite place for Lviv hippies, so that space of less than a dozen tables was not enough. Therefore, those who disagree with the consumption of cocoa from the canteens and the red regime "hung out" from the outside, on the curbs.
In 1987, a few days before the city day, the first peaceful political demonstration in Ukraine during the "perestroika" period took place spontaneously in Virmenka. One of the initiators was Alik Olisevych, who can often be seen at one of the tables in the cafe. By the way, do not be afraid to come and talk: he will tell like no other about the cult cafe, but already in the interior with an updated design and 100% Arabica.