Since 1966, Baruir’s Coffee has been opening its door every day except Sundays. While many of its neighbors either moved or closed, Baruir’s coffee remains popular with the locals and visitors. This old establishment on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, across the street from 40th – Lowery Street train station still has many of the old décor except for the big red coffee roaster in the middle of the store.
It was started by Baruir Nersesian, a Romanian immigrant who immigrated to the United States with his family in 1964. In the beginning, Baruir’s Coffee sold Middle Eastern and Armenian products including coffee to mostly Armenian immigrants. It was a meeting place for Armenians.
Today Mike (Migirdici) Nersesian, the late Baruir Nersesian’s oldest son runs the store with his wife Marta and several workers. He pointed out an old photo with the old 25-year-old coffee roaster, which is now ‘retired’ and stored, near his office.
They have been using the red coffee roaster for 20 years. Mike said they needed a machine that can produce more and faster. In the store you could smell the aroma of coffee. It is not a coffee shop but drip coffee is sold ‘to go’ to commuters on their way to work. There are no chairs or tables at the coffee shop. Most, like us, were there to buy half a pound of fresh ground coffee.
Bags of coffee beans from Colombia and Brazil were stacked as part of the decoration in one corner of the wall and a few buckets of coffee beans were positioned beside the roaster for Monday morning roasting.
The Nersesian family had a humble beginning and like many immigrants they have worked hard and passed on the business to their sons and daughters. Mike Nersesian gave us a book written by his father in Romanian aptly named “I went through the Valley of Death,” Baruir shared a brief version of his struggles and successes from Romania to America.
Honestly, with the rise of café culture and the emergence of a new breed of coffee roasters in New York City, we think old establishments like Baruir’s Coffee may not be able to compete in the next decade if they don’t innovate.
We love old establishments and are happy to learn about the story behind Baruir’s Coffee. It’s our hope that Baruir Nersesian’s legacy continues. He said in his book that he was happy to see the Armenian tricolor on top of the store. He was referring to the sign in front.
Freshly roasted coffee is $8.99 per pound. You can visit Baruir’s Coffee at 40-07 Queens Boulevard, Sunnyside NY 11104 or purchase their coffee online.