Sprudge.com recently spent a whirlwind, mindboggling week in Moscow, attending the Soyuz Coffee Roasters pop-up cafe service in Red Square as part of the Spasskaya Tower Festival. It was a joy to cover this event and to get to know the organizers, visionaries, and especially the international team of barista champions. Looking back at our week in Red Square, the numbers are pretty startling:

1. 17,000 espresso shots

2. 1,060 liters of Parmalat Milk

3. Around 200kg of coffee

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4. 61 water tanks (19l each)

5. 40 bottles of flavored syrup

The thing is, those numbers don’t even scratch the surface of how packed and intense this service was during the rush times. There’s nothing, and we mean nothing, like watching 3 teams of barista champions dig themselves out of a mondo rush, only to be buried again, and again, and again, by hordes of Russian high society scions, Kazakh marching trombonists, and hawk-wielding Kremlin guardsmen. It was both a pleasure and a spectacle to behold.

An event of this size, drawing a team from all around the world, is impossible without comprehensive logistics and on-site support. The team from Soyuz was, in a word, marvelous, and our group never for a moment felt unsafe or unattended. To everyone at Soyuz – Drago, Asli, Alexey, Sergey, and Regina – thank you for the chance to see Moscow in such a special light. To the champs – Alejandro, Monika, Francesco, Stefanos, Pete, Olga, and Javier – thanks for answering our questions, clinking glasses with us, and being a part of this awesome experience. And especially to Andrew Hetzel, without whom literally none of any of this event in Moscow would have been possible – thank you all.

We’ll leave you with a story from our last night in Moscow, and to do so, we’ll break with our usual adherence to the impersonal pronoun game. Marriage and timing meant that Sprudge.com was represented in Moscow by Jordan, so let’s have him tell this story in the first person:

Late at night, outside of the VIP tent, and enthusiasm and exhaustion had gotten the best of some of us. I made the executive decision to venture back to the hotel ahead of the group, alone, for a last walk through Red Square and a chance to take a couple of more notes. Just as we started to leave, Sergey, our de-facto body guard and fixer for the week, stopped me for a moment as I started to leave. Sergey works for Soyuz and lives in Kaliningrad with his son and wife; he also speaks very little English, but that didn’t stop us from being friends – the night before, Drago had played translator as Sergey and I told each other our favorite dirty jokes. Sergey gave me a huge bear hug, and in a careful pantomime, made the hand motion for an airplane safely taking off, reaching cruising altitude, then landing safely. “You – okay? You are brother.”

I have this note I jotted down somewhere along the way to the airport, and I’ve thought about it a lot since this trip. It reads: “Russia makes America look like a land of clean lines and obvious conclusions. When Americans try and write about Russia, we can’t help but simplify”. But this moment I shared with Sergey requires absolutely no simplification at all; it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’ll be asking friends at Soyuz to translate this to Sergey, and so my friend, my brother, many blessings to you and your family, and thank you for your kindness.

You can explore our wide world of Moscow coverage, including our exclusive interviews with all 7 national barista champions, by simply clicking here.

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