We take a look at how this innovative café has changed the face of comics and coffee in the capital of Georgia.
BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Photos courtesy of Parsek1
When it comes to coffee and comic books, Japan is a longtime leader in the field. Manga cafés have been around for decades, combining coffee and the Japanese-based comics or graphic novels in one place. This fusion of two cultures has inspired other parts of the world to explore the unique blend of entertainment. One such example is Parsek1—a café/comic book store located in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The café serves various types of specialty coffee while also offering customers access to an extensive collection of comics, manga, and graphic novels from diverse authors around the world. Not only does Parsek1 cater to both comic enthusiasts and coffee connoisseurs alike, but it also serves as a hub for local artists who showcase their work in the café. Today we dive into the world of Parsek1 to discover what it takes to blend together two different cultures.
Coffee & Comics: A Successful Blend
When customers enter Parsek1, they are immediately welcomed into a unique atmosphere of coffee and comics. On one side, you will find a fully stocked barista station with delicious specialty coffee and a menu of both espresso-based drinks and pourovers. On the other side of the café is their extensive library of manga and comic books from authors around the world.
Parsek1 faced the threat of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, former Parsek 1 barista Ani Zedelashvili and her husband stepped up to take over the business. They believed their combined experience in marketing, manga, and the café business could allow them to find success. “My husband and I didn’t want to let this place go. We didn’t want to rob local fans of the opportunity to go to this special place where you can meet with like-minded people and chat about your favorite titles while drinking some delicious coffee. It had a special place in our hearts,” she says.
Things worked out for them, and they have since expanded their library of comics, as well as their menu. In fact, Parsek1 is so far the one and only physical comic book store in the country, having filled a gap in the market for local fans of comics and manga. Ani explains that people mainly visit the store for comics and manga, but leave surprised by the delicious coffee. “A big part of our customers are teens and preteens who come with parents, and for a parent, it’s nice to sit down, have a coffee, and wait while your kid is going through their favorite titles.”
Interweaving Two Worlds
Managing a hybrid store of comics and coffee is no easy feat, but the team at Parsek1 has managed to successfully blend the two. Ani explains that it’s all about how much attention you give to each aspect, especially online. “You can’t just publish social media posts like typical coffee shops do. You need to show a comic book somewhere in the background (so as) not to confuse the customer with what is your main goal. We love coffee, but magic doesn’t happen without comics and manga.”
At Parsek1, it is not only about selling comics and coffee. The café also serves as a hub for local artists who present their work in the café. This has created an environment where comics, manga, and art can be celebrated alongside each other. “The physical aspect of this place is what makes the magic happen. It’s strongly community-driven; we love to sit down with our customers and talk about comics, manga, and art—that’s how you find new talents, partners, and like-minded friends,” Ani says.
The successful blending of a coffee shop and a comic book store requires patience. As Ani points out, you have to take care of two completely different businesses, and having knowledge in both industries is crucial for success. “It’s necessary to know what you are doing, so if you are good at brewing coffee, spend some time researching comics, and vice versa,” she says.
Through the balance of coffee and comics, Ani Zedelashvili and her team have created a unique environment that celebrates both cultures and brings people together. While managing two businesses at once can be daunting, the hard work has paid off for Parsek1.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine, and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.