In one week’s time, Sprudge.com will journey alongside some of the best baristas in the world to Moscow, Russia, for a groundbreaking week of coffee service at the Spasskaya Tower Festival in Red Square.
You might be asking: “What? Really? Is this just more of your guy’s made-up, questionably executed, barely-relevant nonsense schtick?” – To which we must answer, No, friends, we are not making this up. Sprudge is really, totally going to Russia next week. This is actually happening.
First things first, insofar as we can tell the narrative of specialty coffee in Russia is a fascinating one. Long dominated by tea, Russia’s national tastes started trending towards coffee following the fall of Communism, and in recent years a small but fervent specialty scene has been growing in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The vast majority of what’s brewing in Russia these days is of the instant variety, much of it prepared in the Turkish style, but the high-end sector has developed considerably in the last 5 years, as evidenced by a lively national competitions (like the 2010 “Russia Coffee Marathon”, which we covered last March) and the emergence of a few notable boutique roasters.
Among these roasters, the newest and certainly the most high-profile is Soyuz Coffee Roasting. They’re based in Kaliningrad, which, if you’ll remember when you had to learn the “European Nations” map in 7th grade, is that little disconnected piece of Russia that sits between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. From what we’ve read, Soyuz Coffee Roasters are doing some pretty damn interesting work considering where the Russian market for high-end coffee was only a few years ago. We’ve never tried any of their coffee before – you try finding Russian specialty coffee in America – but the people at Coffee Review are all over it, with some pretty nice things to say. They produce several different espresso blends, one of which is specifically cafe-focused, they’ve got a brand new design-minded facility in Kaliningrad, and they’re inviting the world to Russia as often as possible, especially the producers, to show off what they’re up to, learn and improve.
They’re also pretty connected; Soyuz Coffee Roasters is the “Official Coffee Purveyor To The Moscow Kremlin”, and next week they’ll be providing the first-ever specialty coffee service on Red Square, to high-ranking VIPs, celebrities and diplomats, as part of the Spasskaya Tower International Tattoo And Military Music Festival (With Fireworks And “Cultural Displays”). On top of that, Soyuz went out and got themselves 6 national barista champions from around the world to serve their coffees in an outdoor bar (on Red Square!) and give presentations throughout the event. They include:
- Alejandro Mendez (El Salvador) – 2011 World Barista Champion and 2011, 2010 El Salvador Barista Champion
- Francesco Sanapo (Italy) – 2011, 2010 Italian Barista Champion
- Javier Garcia (Spain) – 2011 Spanish Barista Champion and World Barista Championship Finalist
- Olga Melik-Karakozova (Russia) – 2011, 2007 Russian Barista Champion
- Pete Licata (U.S.A.) – 2011 United States Barista Champion and World Barista Championship runner-up
- Stefanos Domatiotis (Greece) – 2011, 5-time Greek Barista Champion
Clearly the whole thing is going to be a real scene. (Here, watch this Youtube, it’s 1000+ people in a marching band at last year’s festival, playing Tchaikovsky’s “Overture of 1812”.) And somehow, as improbable as it may seem, Sprudge will actually be there live from Red Square, alongside Sarah Allen of Barista Magazine and an international gaggle of Offical Press Corps.
Join us, won’t you? Read along next week right here on Sprudge.com for the inside scoop on Russian cafe culture, the best coffee shops in Moscow, high-ranking diplomats and their ordering preferences, plus the sheer culture shock of it all. We’re taking you with us to Russia! Just don’t tell the agents at the airport.