Kahve Cafe: A Hidden Gem in Downtown Salt Lake


Andre M

The Wise Dragonfly on 57 S and 600 E houses several local businesses, including Kahve Cafe, April 7, 2023. (Photo by Andre Montoya | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Andre Montoya, Arts Writer


Tucked away on 57 S 600 E in downtown Salt Lake City is The Wise Dragonfly, which houses several local businesses including the charming and eccentric Turkish coffee shop, Kahve Cafe.

The Victorian-style home was built in 1905 and lived in by seminal Salt Lake City resident Minnie A. Adams Boxrud, until it was later sold as commercial property after her passing. It’s a microcosm of the city’s history and now serves as a gathering place for its residents. As for Kahve Cafe, owner Elif Ekin says it is infused with her personality in “every nook and cranny.”

A Risk Rewarded

A cozy nook in Kahve Cafe on April 7, 2023. (Photo by Andre Montoya | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

After her baklava businesses took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ekin decided to take a risk and take her business ventures elsewhere, opening a new cafe. “It was a huge leap of faith. It was literally jumping into the abyss of the unknown,” said Ekin. “I always said if I was going to open a cafe it needed to be in a home and people thought I was crazy. It just had the right atmosphere because Turkish hospitality begins in the home.” During the pandemic, people were isolated and stuck at home with no way to connect with other people, so Ekin knew exactly what approach she had to take with her new business. “People had lost the ability to connect because they were isolated so much and then I thought about creating a cafe in a home so everybody can feel part of it,” said Ekin. “That has created this community where customers become like family and get to know each other because they come in all the time. So it really is a unique kind of flow of in organizing a coffee shop.”

The cozy cafe legitimately does feel like walking into a residence. On the walls are pictures of Ekin’s family, an eclectic collection of vinyl records, various knick-knacks and in the air is the smell of brewing coffee or baking pastries. 

Were it not for the occasional chimes of the register, you might be mistaken for having regressed back to your childhood home.

Turkish Traditions

“It was a huge risk to kind of try to tap that market but people have been interested and they loved it,” Elkin said. “They love the uniqueness and the whole concept. They love that they can come with their friends and tell each other’s fortunes when they finish their cups. There’s just a multisensory aspect to it.”

Of course, the staple is the traditional Turkish coffee. The grounds are mixed in a small pot with water and then sifted through a sand machine that can reach up to 350 F. The grounds dissolve in the water and it begins to bubble up, indicating that it is ready. After it is done brewing, there are a variety of spices that can be added to the coffee along with a side of baklava or borek, a savory pastry. After finishing the cup, someone else, never yourself, can “read” your coffee grounds. It’s a form of fortune-telling known as tasseography.

Tasseography, fortune telling from coffee grounds, at Kahve Cafe on April 7, 2023. (Photo by Andre Montoya | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

As for my own, it seems there is a contentious conversation is to be had between a man and a woman, though what that may be about remains to be seen. Whatever portent you may leave Kahve Cafe with will also be accompanied by the feeling of wanting to return and bring along someone new for the experience.


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