Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What, no Starbucks?

Coffee was a big deal in St. Petersburg. I think it maybe had to do with the heavy italian influence. Moscow does not have the coffee addiction yet that St. Petersburg had. Case in point: they still use the word "coffee" when referring to instant! There are quite a few "cafes", which do seem to serve espresso based drinks, but the chain coffee shops have not made it and you cannot find Starbucks or Peets coffee (now available at Shaw's!) or Seattle's Best.

There is one exception: McDonalds. Yes you read that right: McDonalds. First they are everywhere. I mean everywhere. Second, many have something that does not exist in the states: McCafe. When you look inside a McCafe, it looks exactly like the coffee shop you find in Barnes and Noble. It is very similar to, but not exactly, a Starbucks. They even hand out punch cards for frequent buyers. I'm going to try it today.

I have found one good latte, at a chain italian restaurant. It is unique in that they put a layer of dense milk foam on the bottom, then the espresso layers into the middle, and finally the less dense foam on top. It creates a pretty cool presentation as the espresso cascades to the bottom (think of a Guiness beer).