One of the most important questions for a newcomer to the city – where can I get some good coffee? – usually comes shortly after requests for the nearest supermarket and ATM machine. “Good coffee”, as conceived by a Petersburger, means that after this special coffee the sky is no longer overcast and grey, the wind stops throwing snowflakes in your face, and you begin to notice people’s smiles. We’ve selected five perfect places for making your day better (no cafe chains included!) and asked baristas about their specialities. Enjoy.
Big restaurants look sad and lonely in the mornings; coffee rooms never look sad. For early birds the tiny Smalldouble on Kazanskaya is a perfect place – it opens at 8:30 on weekdays and suggests delectable self-made croissants for breakfast – and coffee, of course.
Maria, barista: Our coffee is made from fresh-roasted beans: we get them green. It influences the taste greatly, because any coffee mixture roasted a couple months ago will be much more bland and at the same time bitter (but less flavourful) than a mixture roasted, lets say, last week.
There are several alternative methods of brewing, where monosort is brewed, coffee beans of one species and of one country, not a mixture. In
this case the barista should keep in mind guests’ taste preferences, what they want – more sour, more mild or something with more pronounced bitterness. We have now three ways of alternative brewing – they are syphon, chemex and aeropress.
We have a line of drinks based on espresso. You ask, which coffee is ordered the least? Espresso affogato. Nobody knows what is this though it’s very delicious. It’s a dessert more than a drink, because the ice-cream scoop is covered with espresso there; and there’s a tiny amount of coffee, only 30 ml. Kind of minimalism: for me it’s the ideal balance of coffee and ice cream.
Where? Kazanskaya street, 26 Black coffee price? “Americano” – 90 rub
Meet Joe / Знакомьтесь, Джо
Space-saving coffee room located in a bookshop called “Subscriptions” (“Подписные издания”). Its three tables had never been a problem for visitors: there are some working places on the shop’s second floor where you can park yourself with your books, laptop and take-away coffee.
Dinara, barista: We have an espresso-machine for classic methods of brewing coffee; there are also some new gadgets, which are simple-to-operate, with the packages for filter-coffee, hario, chemex and aeropress. Often guests know nothing about the alternative, and we need to tell about it. The process itself of making it is quite entertaining. We make also “kahve”, which is “coffee” in Finnish – that’s a classic filter coffee. From the usual ones cappuccino is the most popular drink, not “americano” (espresso with water).
I personally drink coffee at home and here, in “Meet Joe”. When you have a knack for coffee, it becomes difficult for you – I won’t say to cross over to cafe chains, you just stop going there – but it’s not easy to find a good replacement for what you drink.
Where? Litejnyj prospect, 57 Black coffee price? “Americano” – 117 rub
Coffee on the kitchen / Кофе на кухне
“Coffee on the kitchen” is the elder brother of “Meet Joe”, with the same mission (to raise the coffee culture level of Petersburgers), owners and menu written with chalk on the blackboard. It celebrates 2-years-birthday the other day, and I would wish them happiness and prosperity. The only drawback of the place for me is that some baristas can be quite supercilious in terms of professional coffee making.
Vera, barista: From the very beginning we didn’t plan to serve anything but delicious coffee, snacks and desserts appeared because of market requirements. And we pay much attention to the atmosphere, for the person who comes once and wants come again and again.
We suggest espresso of a non-standard volume, 30-40 ml instead of 50 ml, it becomes more acidic, dense and rich-tasted as ristretto. We have a special price policy – when the guest sees that espresso is two times cheaper than “americano”, he orders espresso. It’s pleasant for us. The alternative is ordered more often now, comparing to the times when we’ve just opened. People are getting used to good, begin to understand; we also held cuppings on Thursdays, where our guests can try some new coffee.
Where? Fontanka embankment, 17 Black coffee price? “Americano” – 117 rub
DoubleB / ДаблБи
They know on what altitude their coffee beans had been raised. They have one of the highest salary levels in the city among baristas. They make all the additives (like caramel) for sweet drinks by themselves. In DoubleB they are truly obsessed with coffee and that’s amazing.
Sasha, barista: Before reaching us, coffee of speciality class passes through 50 pairs of hands. I mean, it’s collected, sorted, graded, processed, and dried… everything by hand. The realization of this fact always motivates me also to feel responsibility for it. We have light-roasted coffee, of so-called “Scandinavian” roasting. Light roasting gives the absolute transparency, while dark roasting was created to hide the flaws of beans. It’s hard to work with coffee of this quality, one should have special knowledge.
Guests often underestimate cappuccino, thinking that it’s something ordinary. But in fact cappuccino is one of the most complex coffee cocktails. Like espresso, cappuccino should be drunk quickly; and in Russia there is a “tradition” to overheat the milk, in any place they bring it over-hot. It’s the most delicious until flaking off, for the first couple of minutes. It’s not coffee plus milk plus foam, but one single substance.
People who work here get a kick out of what they do. For us it’s the key factor. We don’t employ those who are not hot-eyed, even if the person is very experienced.
Where? Millionnaya str., 18 + Obvodnyj kanal, 60 Black coffee price? Australian lungo – 150 rub
Bonch / Бонч
Bonch cafe located near to Saint-Petersburg University of technology and design is a place full of air, light and beautiful people. Everybody who has been there, including Sasha from DoubleB, advised me to try their espresso. I couldn’t cope with the fifth cup of coffee this morning, but next time I’ll surely do.
Vika, barista: We have very delicious espresso, one of the most delicious in the city. We make it on the base of Ethiopian bean “welena”; to its acidity the dry method of processing adds strong sweetness. We don’t make “americano” with espresso-machine, using filters instead. Alternative is, as everywhere, hario and chemex. Also like many cafes we don’t use chemical syrups; we serve now pumpkin, gingerbread, rosemary and vanilla latte, and everything is natural. Except black coffee, I would recommend cream-coffee – I think it is ordered too rare for such a tasty drink.
Talking about coffee culture in Saint-Petersburg, I think it became better during last year – people pay more attention now to what they drink, more articles appeared, barista championships are held frequently. The stir began; and it seems to me that in a year lots of people will go to the cafes not for lunches, but just for coffee, for the taste of coffee.
Where? Bolshaya Morskaya street, 16 Black coffee price? Filter-coffee americanly 90 rub