Opening Night at the Spasskaya Tower Festival, and we’re briefly enjoying the calm before the storm. There’s some untold thousands of people outside the gates of Red Square, but here we are, lounging at the Soyuz Coffee Roasters outdoor cafe, which if you were to obscure your line of sight, or squint your eyes, would look much like your average sidewalk cafe in any old European plaza – nice, but not particularly outlandish or remarkable (save for the enormous coffee cup):
But when you view it from the side…
Those are the famous onion domes of Red Square. This is all actually happening – for the first time in human history, spanning nearly a millenium back to the 12th century, there is public coffee service happening right smack dab in the G.D. middle of Red Square. Don’t believe me? Here’s another:
Yes, that’s an oversized Soyuz Coffee Roasters demitasse, writ-large against the backdrop of the State Historical Museum. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe this setting – mind-boggling, amazing, eyeball-goggling, stunning, ridiculous, jaw-dropping, incomprehensible…not even close. Also, I mean, if you happen to be a member of Russian High Society attending this event tonight, here’s your crew:
To wit: that’s Pete Licata, (United States Barista Champion), Alejandro Mendez (El Salvador Barista Champion, World Barista Champion), Monika Palova (Slovakian Barista Champion), Stefanos Domatiotis (Greek Barista Champion), Javier Garcia (Spanish Barista Champion), Olga Melik-Karakozova (Russian Barista Champion) and Francesco Stanapo (Italian Barista Champion). Serving three distinct blends of Soyuz Coffee Roasters coffee, they encourage group applause for simple espresso orders, and do their best to keep up with the growing throng of Russian High Society patrons qeued patiently in a night club-esque line that stretches damn near the length of the Square. And when I say High Society, I mean it; an event like this in Russia is every inch a promenade, make no mistake, and the layers of security and bomb sniffing dogs and blue camo clad Judo armed Russian military strongment are not for us, the tourists / journalists / baristas, they’re here for them, the very highest upper echelons of Russian Society, movers and shakers who’ve payed thousands of dollars to be here.
Here! Red Square! This is where we are! Check this ridiculous building out again!
Ok, well, the line is dying down, because the giant fireworks / marching band / cultural display part of the festival is getting ready to start beneath the onion dome. I’m gonna go check out the falconry gendarme display happening a couple of yards away. That’s right, falconry. All my coffee has been delicious so far, and man, this place is beautiful.