Interview with Elisabetta and Bachir: the founders of AtayaCaffe, a peaceful place combining the best of Italy and Senegal.

The ‘being at home’-feeling often takes a lot of time to grow and settle in the heart of the people, especially for travellers. Yet, we all have these places that quickly make us feel at home and safe. AtayaCaffe is definitely one of these places. Enter, smile, choose your spot, and you very quickly feel like life is sweet and easy. The ability of creating such feeling is rare, but Elisabetta and Bachir did it and told us about it.

Hi! Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?

I am Elisabetta, I am a professionally trained cook coming from Sardinia, Italy. My husband is Bashir, he is a musician and comes from Dakar, Senegal. We are the founders of AtayaCaffe and we work there together everyday.

 What is the story behind AtayaCaffe?

Atayacaffe vegan cafe Prenzlauer Berg BerlinBashir and I met in Sardinia, and we lived there for several years. I was already working as a cook over there and I even opened my own restaurant. Yet, the political problems and the lack of interest for more sustainable ways of living in Sardinia, brought us to Berlin. A city that we had already visited and that inspired us very much.

After taking quite some time to think of the project we wanted to create, the idea of AtayaCaffe came naturally. Creating a place where people could feel at home, where the food is healthy and good, and where sustainability is an intrinsic aspect of the everyday life.

It was not an easy adventure and of course we had a lot of doubts, but our wish to create a place people can connect with and which mixes our cultures, was stronger than everything.

What are the main values and goals of AtayaCaffe?

The first value of this place is part of its name ‘Ataya’. It is the Senegalese word for a tea but it also describes the way people gather and stay together. ‘Ataya’ stands for these moments shared together (drinking tea, discussing, playing music…). And this is what we wanted to create here: a place for Ataya.

AtayaCaffeWe also arranged the place and what we cook here, exactly like at home. We want to welcome every guest in AtayaCaffe as we would in our own home.

Our common passion for food and desire for sustainability, naturally became one of our main values. Good, organic and homemade food only. Vegetarian (almost vegan actually) dishes only and, of course, made with love! Yet, we don’t want to write “sustainable”, “green”, “vegan” everywhere in AtayaCaffe. This is just something natural and logical for us when we talk about food quality.

Multiculturalism is a very important aspect of our personal stories therefore it is also one of our central values in AtayaCaffe.

Which sustainable change do you aim to bring with your project?

First of all, we wish to bring a little bit of our warm and welcoming cultures to Berlin. Make people discover and better understand our cultures. We hope to show how positive and powerful the mix of different cultures can be.

Atayacaffe BerlinWe also aim at bringing more ‘sharing attitudes’ in the everyday life. For example, we offer a book sharing service in AtayaCaffe where people can bring their old books and pick up news ones. We also want to share our love for food and show people that vegetarian/vegan food can be truly delicious.   

We also created our own project in Senegal called ‘La Case della Teranga’, which supports local women. We regularly send money and goods, and hope that one day we will be able to maybe send them a part of AtayaCaffe benefits. We also organize sustainable travels to Senegal. We work with local families to help them but also to show tourists the real life of Senegal.

These projects are still rather small at the moment, but we are developing them slowly. The more AtayaCaffe will grow, the more we will try to do good around us.

How do you think Berlin is doing when it comes to sustainability?

Berlin is a wonderful city when it comes to sustainability and multiculturalism. We could not have created AtayaCaffe in any other city (at least from the cities we know). This city offers a lot of freedom as well as inspiration, and people are very open-minded here.

Do you have any sustainable tips for people that are living in / or visiting Berlin?

If you come to Berlin try to visit the city by walking around or using the bicycle. These are the best ways to discover the real Berlin and its vibes.

My favorite places in Berlin are its parks and its markets. Take the time to stroll along the Maybachufer market in Neukölln (a very interesting multicultural experience) as well as the Markthalleneun in Kreuzberg.

Thanks a lot for sharing this story and great tips Elisabetta and Bachir!!

You can find AtayaCaffe on Facebook!

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