When the Espressoul Café coffee truck opened in the late summer of 2021, to nearly immediate praise, I knew I had to hunt this thing down. When we featured them in July of 2022, that only sparked my fevered feat to sample their goods even further.
Then, our social media manager kept posting about them on her online and that threw my need for caffeine in a right tizzy. So, where oh where is this Espressoul Café truck to be found? It was at least a half-hour drive from the house.
Now, I love delicious lattes and smoothies just like anyone else out there, but driving 30 minutes to get to it? At the core, I am a very good and curious man, but I can also be a procrastinating one as well. Fused together, I would make plans to travel to the reaches of the east side to see what all of the internet hype was all about, but then the cat would jump on my lap and I’d “get to it later.”
Then a very unfortunate happenstance happened: Espressoul Café shut down (temporarily). My chance to test out their amazing coffee concoctions, matcha lattes, and those smoothies seemed to have passed — like dust in the wind.
Thing is, during the time Espressoul opened in September 2021, they gained quite an immediate and dedicated following. So, why shut down during the heyday of their high standing?
Espressoul owner and operator Eris Movahedi wanted to take her business to a whole new level. To attempt that venture could only mean one thing: to travel, to discover what coffee means, and to see how it is processed and appreciated abroad. So, she packed up and made the sojourn to the mecca of coffee culture and where espresso was born and perfected.
Lodi, New Jersey.
No wait, I got that wrong.
Coffee itself can be traced back to the forests of Ethiopia, while the modern practice of drinking ground beans filtered through hot water appeared around the 15th century in Yemen among monks in Sufi territories. It wasn’t until the 19th century that coffee became big business in Europe. Italians began to grind the coffee beans to its silty essence and squeeze it through machines which produced a much more effective and efficient product. A cup of coffee before the invention of the espresso machine could take about five minutes to brew, if not longer. A whole five minutes! A day at the office must have been very tense in the mornings back then.
“I really wanted to expand my knowledge and obviously Italians are the OGs,” said Movahedi on a beautiful late morning parked in front of Midtown Vegan Deli. “It was such a beautiful experience. My dad lives in Europe so I went and met up with him and we hit up all the coffee shops in Germany, Netherlands, and of course Italy. I was only there for three weeks but I learned so much and came back with so many ideas.”
Movahedi is from and grew up in Persia (another big factor in modern coffee culture as well) but moved to Chicago with her family in late 2008. She relocated to Arizona to study medicine and, like all good people who like to follow their dreams, she moved to Tucson and started a mobile coffee truck.
“I did not know what I was doing. I was just like, popping up and doing this coffee truck thing,” Movahedi admitted with a laugh. “I don't know anything about marketing. I just popped up super scared. I sold my first coffee in front of the beer house after we got invited. That's when we opened and started. I just jumped in and started swimming.”
There are a good amount of coffee carts dotting the Tucson landscape and each one is fantastic with a unique take on the product itself. What sets Espressoul apart is the vast amount of culture that goes into the drinks they offer.
Espressoul’s signature latte is an ode to Movahedi’s home turf. The Persian Persuasion is a mix of saffron, almond, rose, cinnamon, and cardamom. Made with either oat, almond, or coconut milk, this one along with the Blueberry Lavender, Mojito, Golden, and Shokolat lattes are all 100% vegan.
The Persian Persuasion is like drinking a caffeinated bastani or halva, two popular desserts from the region, and is so smooth and tasty that, even though you got that jump start to your day, you may have to call out and take the day off to take it all in.
There is also a Baklava Latte that I was privy to preview although it isn’t officially on the permanent menu yet. Yet! Although, while we were hanging out, that was the number one thing people ordered. Word gets out quickly in this town.
Of course, you can get a regular cup of coffee — of course — and it’s a thumping good cup of coffee.
If the morning happens to be coming down particularly hard, then grab a Matcha Latte. Why? Because matcha tea has like twice if not three times the amount of caffeine per square inch than regular coffee. Yes, even espresso. The best part is that all of the matcha lattes, except for the Honey Rose, are vegan. All of them are a delicious delight and, man, do they all mean business. Just three sips into the Chai Matcha and I was ready to run a marathon.
The pure complex flavors in each one of the drinks from Espressoul mean a lot, and the focused energy put into them is meaningful in their own manner. Movahedi also makes her own soft tops and vegan sauces in-house, such as caramel, mocha, and other flavorful combinations — all from scratch.
Did Movahedi need to travel to Italy and beyond to make her business grow? Yes, because just like the fresco painted on her wagon, done so lovingly by her mom, an artist needs to see the world before moving onto exciting new avenues. It took Picasso decades to go from boring still life to painting square horses with both eyes on the side of its head.
“This is a truck where its main focus is catering, meaning we would love to just be here for the community, serve the community, create new drinks for the community, and just give Tucson something new because I am always coming up with something new,” Movahedi noted, whipping up something new and inventive on her truck along with partner Derek James. “I just want to be the truck that provides something unique and to bring something inspiring. So, I’m trying not to make it a sweet coffee place that serves sweet coffee drinks. Because I’m not that sweet! Although, I will say, everything I make I make with love.”
Aww, isn’t that sweet?
Don’t forget to order her PBN, which is a banana, Nutella, peanut butter, and espresso treat — almost like a s’more that grew up and decided to travel abroad. It pairs really well with the Espresso Banana Smoothie. Or the Cocoa Matcha Latte. The Nutty Nutella Latte is a fine companion as well. Okay, all of it.
I’m glad that Movahedi went to Europe but, man, I am so glad she decided to come back. I’m pretty sure we all are.
For more information, follow Espressoul Café on Instagram and Facebook.
Mark Whittaker began his journalism career in San Francisco around 1997. It was for a small Northern California music magazine that segued into contributing to numerous magazines, websites, newspapers and weeklies throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. Mark interviewed bands,...