Caffeinated Russia

drink coffee hot.jpgThis summer I was invited to Russia. A fascinating journey to the land of vodka, bears and Putin. That’s what everybody thinks.

I was on a mission to discover something else but vodka. Coffee!

I got a few bags of coffee from five different roasters from Australia and head to Russia to visit some of the biggest coffee houses and Russian Barista Association. What did I expect? Not much, because I even didn’t know whether a coffee culture existed there. Well, here is one big snobby thought of mine.

In Melbourne you don’t hear a lot about Russian baristas. Hmmm, not me at least.

But according to BusinesStart analysis the volume of the Russian coffee market reached more than $3 billon US dollars. It is one of the big markets in the world! The supply of coffee in Russia has increased by almost 80% in the last 5 years with 30% of the volume consumed in two main cities, Moscow and St Petersburg. Definitely something to look at.

I arrived in St.Petersburg at midday. My thirty hours journey added up to one very long day in the most beautiful city in Russia. I just had time to get a shower and run to my first cupping.

So many questions raced through my mind: Is the water good here? Can you drink it from the tap? How do they choose a water supplier if they buy potable water? How do they prepare coffee? Which tools do they use? I was also curious to find out whether our coffee tasted anything like it does back home. And on top of this I wanted to find out how established this market is and what growth potential they have.

I was on a mission with the Australian coffee flag in my hand!

Now imagine! A Scandinavian style café inside of an old Baroque building. Sounds like a mad mixture? It is! Mad coffee espresso sits behind the main city streets. Here I met Irina, a Barista trainer and International coffee judge, who was leaving to Budapest the next day where the World Coffee expo 2017 was just about to open. It is 6 o’clock in the evening and the café is full. St.Petersburg doesn’t sleep, it is celebrating White Nights which means that the sun never disappears, so you can drink coffee at any time of the day, especially if you are not planning to go to bed. Definitely not in my case today.

mad coffee.jpgI noticed that the majority of coffee here is from Ethiopia and Colombia. We started cupping. I caught myself thinking that our coffee tasted good, but not as good as back home. I missed the vibrant note and the depth of a beautiful floral bouquet of my favourite Australian roaster. In comparison, their coffee was a bit darker but roasted to suit the quality of the local water. I was slightly disappointed of the performance of our coffee but decided to try their espresso. Well, after a drink I certainly felt better. Espresso in Russia is something not many people drink and I, probably, know why.

After the cupping I asked Irina what did she think about coffee. She seemed to be positively surprised by the variety of beans although I just brought coffee from Indonesia, Tanzania, Colombia and Ethiopia. The Russian coffee market is swamped by Ethiopian, Kenyan and Colombian coffee, so not often she would have an opportunity to try coffee from Sulawesi or Java. She mentioned, that as a judge she would be impressed to see coffee from Indonesia or Tanzania. But, Ethiopian Geisha took the first prize in today’s cupping.

bolshe coffee b&w 2.jpg

My second cupping was with one of the first and most interesting coffee houses “Bolshe coffee” – an unusual name with an unusual interior and one very friendly and professional owner, Nicolay. They do public cupping every Thursday which usually attracts around 15 people or more. The cupping with coffee from Melbourne was announced on their Facebook page and brought in 35 people or so. Not bad for a midweek event.

Nicolay went on to show me “his” St.Petersburg by visiting some amazing coffee places. It was so fascinating to see many alternative brews on every café’s menu and it costs less than the “standard” machine coffee. The main reason behind that idea is to attract the attention of alternative brewing methods and single origins. Some sort of a Marketing tool that promotes additional education. I have to say, it works. Here I saw more people drinking coffee from Chemex or V60 than in Melbourne.

A few days later I had a meeting at the North-West Coffee Company (NWCC) and Russian Barista Association (RBA). Lost somewhere in a forest of warehouses, the North-West Coffee Company shares an office with the RBA. And what an office it is! Run by an immigrant from England – Chris – NWCC is the biggest roaster in St.Petersburg. I brought a few samples in order to try their coffee with our Melbourne water. I call it “Revenge cupping”.

rba office

I have to say, I tried their coffee in a café and was pleasantly surprised. To be honest, even their baristas don’t look much different to ours: tattoos, beards, shaved heads and snobby looks.

We set up for a cupping on the workbench next to the Mahlkönig grinder and Hario scales. I caught myself in a déja vu image. That’s how I know it from Melbourne. We talked about the industry, it’s difficulties and the necessity of education and investment into barista’s training, coffee supplies, the lack of International workshops and about water quality. Unfortunately, no one drinks water from the tap in Russia and it made my life so much more difficult. I was struggling to throw one plastic bottle after another in the bins.

office rba 3

A few days later I head down to Moscow which was such a different experience.

After visiting a few cafés, the famous and biggest chain Double B, Drinkit and a few others, I had a clear understanding that coffee culture here is definitely on a rise and people are prepared to pay premium for a better quality, cup of coffee in Russia costs around 300 Rubble, what’s equivalent almost to $8 AUD.

Water in Moscow was closer to Melbourne’s, yet in Terrefacto – one of the biggest roasters in town – they took a decision to buy a potable water in big 19 litres bottles. It gives them consistency and provides filtered, good quality water.

torefacto.jpg

I definitely was expected in Moscow. In the office of Terrefacto we had one of the biggest blind cupping sessions together with the whole team plus some International guests. Australian roasted coffee was on offer directly next to the coffee from Copenhagen and coffee roasted in Moscow, some of the samples were even from the same region. It was a great experience where I got to know not just new talented people but passionate coffee professionals from different countries.

You might wonder, what does coffee in Moscow taste like? Great! Our coffee tasted better in Moscow too, it was fruitier and rounder than in St.Petersburg, though slightly “tired” from travelling. During the blind cupping we were guessing the origin and the roaster of the coffee, and to be fair few times I was confused where was our coffee and where was a coffee from Moscow. Light roasts, juicy, mouthful coffees from Ethiopia and Kenia were a few of my favourites. But for home I took Moscow roasted coffee from Yemen. That’s something I look forward to cup in Melbourne soon.

I spent more than 3 hours there and we were sharing news from the coffee industry, deciding to keep in touch and, hopefully, make this an annual experience.

Overall, this Russian experience was very positive. There is a lot to improve and develop as Russia is a vast land of opportunities. But as it happens in any young market, it’s often starts with a few passionate fanatics and that means curiosity and fast development. Next year, it might be a completely different story. Hopefully, I will be back soon with a news from a Russian Coffee Forum.

Advertisements

Ministry of Manpower…or… Power of Man in Ministry

20170709_172333 (3).jpgIn former times I used to think that Governments and legal institutions around the world are alike. That there are always a Ministry of Finance, Culture and Sport, Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Science and Innovation, Ecology and Environment… what else is there? May be Tourism, Employment and Social services.

But the older I grow and, hopefully, the more I know the more I notice a few differences.

For example, I didn’t know that in Australia there is a Minister for Women (strangely, but this time it is a woman who curates it. If I would be a man I would talk about discrimination…), a Minister for Indigenous Affairs (white person, of course) and no more Ministry for Climate Change (that’s been cancelled, may be due to a fact that we found out that climate stop changing. Bad news… or, may be a good news?).

I wrote once that in the UAE there is a Ministry for Happiness, which probably gives orders on how citizens have to feel and live. Looks like Ministry of Happiness needed in a country where women have no rights at all. That’s probably why they need it – to control their happiness.

I even got to know that in Bhutan they created a Gross National Happiness Index similar to a GD, as indicator of the country’s economic development. But this one is based on Buddhist principles, so they decided to create a Secretary of Gross National Happiness too. Well, I wonder if my happiness would be measured in percentage or days equivalent, or will it be just a dry number? The government probably sends you a happiness slip with this text: “This year you were happy for only 180 days, which is lower than the average. Please ensue you make yourself happy due to reflecting our policy” or so. Let’s assume that I’m an absolutely happy person (which is quite close to the truth) and my neighbour is the complete opposite. On average our neighbourhood is 50% happy. I guess, that’s a positive number, which makes us all so positively equal…. At least they don’t have a Ministry of Truth, like in the famous book “1984”.

India, for example, created a Ministry of Yoga. Their Minister is probably sitting in the lotus position for 14 hours a day to ensure that the whole Ministry enlightens. Or is he stressed from trying to relax people?

I recon, we also need something like this. I said it long time ago that we need a Minister for AFL (and let it be a pretty woman….please? She probably will find a common ground with every player.)

This time in Singapore I saw a Ministry of Manpower. I don’t know what it means, but surely it must be something that human beings do the best. What could it be “A power of a man”? Where is it? Is it in words, art or construction? Or is it a power of negotiations? Yes, that’s probably it. We are human and we are known for the ability to THINK and WRITE. That’s what puts us aside from animals. So, my guess is that the Ministry of Manpower is a Ministry for Art and Science or in the worst case scenario is the union for trade or labour (how boring!). I couldn’t stop thinking and tried to search the Internet. It is a Ministry “…which is responsible for the formulation and implementation of labour policies related to the workforce in Singapore. The ministry oversees matters related to immigration, issue of Employment Pass to foreign talents, student pass, passport, visa, grant of residency/citizenship etc. The Ministry was known as Ministry of Labour until 1998.”

O.K. now I know that the greatest of all powers that us human being have is the power of Labour. Socrates was wrong.

20170709_171917 (2).jpg

Day number 3

20170629_105634 (2)Today we are at almost 3000m altitude. My bum is on fire and the rest of the muscles are on strike. That path with a steel wire wasn’t quite straight (photo).

Reaching the peak I see…snow. Some sort of a Christmas in July. It certainly feels that way for me and I’m celebrating every second. Mainly because there is no more walking for today. But Champagne wouldn’t hurt. I’m sweaty, standing in snow in my short pants. Hot and cold «feelings» mixed together.

20170701_120653 (2)

Tonight we are staying in a hut on top of the mountain. It is busy here and we are too early. Bedtime is a few hours away and to be honest I’m looking forward to sleep, especially knowing that I gonna share a room with 11 other hikers. What could be better than a room of farting and snoring people? Oh dear! I find this thought is too disturbing to keep in my head. I need a help.

No book in my bag, only a phone with empty battery, so we decided to play cards for the rest of the day. It is not that kind of reward you are waiting for after a long and painful climb. But I quickly change my mind when I look at the snow and wind greeting newcomers. Anything is better in comparison. My mind, body and spirit are getting numb at that point. I’m reaching my summit. Looks like in altitude the air does become thin and less concentrated so do my thoughts. But there is always a reward when you least expect it.

20170701_173340 (2)

Clouds are gone and we can see that we are on the top of the world with a breathtaking view over Dolomites. The sun is visiting the peaks for the last time today to kiss and say “Good night”. It always does this way. Every day. For million of years and nothing changed. Time stopped. This feeling is worth millions. At this point nothing else matters, even not a few snorers.

20170702_054412 (2)

20170702_054356 (2)

A cold invitation

20170701_111007 (2)Cold skin. Very cold. I touch my cheek again and to experience this feeling once more. It doesn’t feel like mine anymore. Rain and hail kissed my cheeks million times within the last hour.

Now it’s time to dive into a cloud.

Uncertainty disturbs. Especially on 2000 meters above the sea level on a sharp rocks.

I feel a brush of cold air on my lips, hairs and arms. Finally this milky universe swallowed me and there is no way back any longer. I even don’t know where is that «way back». Everything is white. Everything is the same.

Don’t stop.

20170701_124903 (2)

Now I can’t efford this luxury. I just look straight ahead and follow the marks on the track while I still can see something.

Fear. Joy. And curiosity. All mixed in a cocktail that I’m drinking now.

But the thought that I’m walking with a cloud makes me smile. A scarf of thick wet air thrown around me to protect from the cold.

I’m feeling strange here. I feel like I got invited for an event by mistakes.

This experience is impossible to forget. What a treat!

20170701_110057 (2)

 

Drug test or Painful question

mmm.jpgI haven’t been here in WordPress for a long time, but I gave myself a word as soon as I find a new job I will write at least once a week. Life a bit too hectic at the moment. Talking about hectic life and relaxation.

This week I was in Sydney. And while I was strolling through the streets of the biggest Australian city I saw this:

“Who are we hurting?”- said a shops signage. You might ask me what is this shop about?

If somebody didn’t get it yet – it is about giving love, sun and care for the plants. And I’m assuming people are waiting that those plants gonna “pay” them back. If they not gonna give them sun, they might provide some love and TLC.

And a restaurant next door got an extra traffic. It would be funny, if in a restaurant instead of the question: “What are you gonna drink today, guys?”, would ask: “Which drug are you gonna take today?”. Or something like: “We don’t supply marijuana, there is a shop next door. We are B.Y.O only”.

After all I guess there is no answer on the question “Who are we hurting?” apart from:  ourselves. But saying this, many people think this “pain” has to be legalised. We need to be free to choose our life, our death, our pain and our drug too.

20170421_084007_resized

Среди повседневной беготни, где- то в Сиднее, я прочла такую вывеску магазина: “Кому мы причиняем боль?”. Приглядевшись, я поняла, о чем вопрос.

Посреди самого большого города Австралии люди выращивают марихуану, надеясь не только получить желаемый урожай, но еще и социально взбудоражить общественность.

Общественность взбудоражилась, трафик пешеходов увеличился, ресторан по соседству поучил все дивиденды. И мне стало интересно, если все же марихуану легализуют, то, например, в ресторане будут спрашивать: ” Вы пить будете или курить? По сути дела, посетители будут отличаться только скоростью выхода из ресторана и прямотой ходьбы.

It’s a sign!

img_4123-2

We stopped on the road to check a direction and discuss whether to drive to the beach for a breakfast or go inland. I turned and seconds later understood that we are standing on the wrong side of the road. “STOP AND CHAT” – was written on the sign opposite where we stopped. I thought that there is a new sign system on the road. But apparently it is mum friendly signage created by the local school.

I don’t know about mums, but I found it is very efficient especially for kids. Imagine you tell your kiddo: “I’m waiting for you over there” or “I’m waiting for you at the WAIT A WHILE zone”. In the first scenario you explain where you are in the second case your kid knows where you stand and that HE HAS TO HURRY UP!

Sadly there is no express lane, something like “SORRY, WE ARE LATE”, otherwise it would be mine.

img_4126

Где-то за Мельбурном, мы остановились, выясняя дорогу и свои намерения на завтрак. Напротив меня я заметила надпись “Поцелуй и поехали”. Я поцеловала.

– Поехали! – говорю я.

– Что? – спросил меня муж.

– Мы на неправильной стороне дороги. Вон там знак “ОСТАНОВИСЬ И ПОБОЛТАЙ”, а чуть дальше “ПОДОЖДАТЬ НЕДОЛГО”, а мы стоим на “ПОЦЕЛУЙ И ПОЕХАЛИ”.  Так что либо здесь, либо там…

– …либо продолжаем целоваться, -перебил мой муж…и мы продолжили.

“Хорошие знаки, однако, возле этой школы,” – подумала я.

img_4122-2

Art bees

_mg_3744

One more wonder of the last trip: art bees.

Is it possible that bees could be arty and modern? Here they are, hidden in the middle of Salzburg, in the garden of a local museum.

Another example: somewhere in the middle of Melbourne, somewhere on the top of one of the high buildings, there is a hive. It’s called the “Urban bees”. Apparently there are a lot of flowers in the city which need pollination and city bees are in demand. But what is interesting is that the honey from those city creatures is clean and non-toxic without pesticides and heavy metals in it.

I think museum bees are definitely more modern. So next time when you see a bee on your balcony in Salzburg, don’t kill it. First of all it is property of a museum and second of all it might bring art to your life and may be a bit of honey too.

•••

Где ещё можно увидеть пчел, как не в саду музея современного искусства? Современных пчел, не каких-нибудь! В Зальцбурге мы наткнулись на арт пасеку. И порадовались.

Вспоминая дело пчелиное, Мельбурн тоже может составить конкуренцию. Сити пчелы живут на крыше шестиэтажного дома в самом сердце бизнес квартала. Как оказывается, в городе растёт много цветов, и пчел-то на них и не хватает.

И вопреки ожиданиям, мёд городских пчел был чист, без пестицидов и тяжёлых металлов. Ну, а если вы всё же в Зальцбурге, и увидели пчелу, то не убивайте ее, она может принести вам не только мёд, но и внести немного современного искусство в вашу городскую жизнь.

 

My black for their gold

img_2778-3

I was talking to my mum yesterday and she said that it is -15°C at the place where she is now. I do remember how it feels to be in the cold, but I prefer not to.

This European winter was kind to us and Germany showed its landscape from the best side. We had a chance to visit a few castles and eat a lot of würstel (sausages) and drink a lot of bad coffee. To be honest I took great Melbourne coffee with me in order to place it next to my legs, take a photo of this impressive scenery and sip on a steaming cup of yummy  morning drink and remind myself about great winter. But the coffee was bad so only the landscape deserves to be here.

I couldn’t believe that my coffee didn’t taste the same as in Melbourne. I discovered that it was purely because of one thing – the water. This water is too soft for coffee, but perfect for beer. So after all I had to change my morning drink: black for gold. And I didn’t take a photo, cause it will be a definite proof why I gained 50kg over my Christmas break.

img_2745-2

Вспоминая свои каникулы, я решила просмотреть фото с Германии. Германия открылась нам своей удивительной красотой, не зря немецкие короли строили в этой части страны свои замки. Я спланировала, что одним из моих уютных зимних воспоминаний бүдет фото заснеженного ландшафта  на заднем плане и кофе в моих руках впереди. Для этого я даже взяла мой любимый кофе из Мельбурна.

Но кофе был “несъедобен”, точнее нехорош, и поэтому не удостоился места на фото, так что только ландшафт вместо натюрморта. Я поняла позже, почему свежайший кофе не получился – во всем виновата вода. Мягкая вода не подходит для крепкого кофе, зато подходит для вкусного пива, так что мне пришлось сменить свой утренний напиток. Черный на золотое. Естественно, фото я делать не стала, дабы не напоминать себе о разбитом вкусным пивом сердце и экстра 50 кг на бедрах.

img_2758-2

Green and new

bambooBamboo. We definitely know that it is strong, fast growing and it is a natural and sustainable material. But what I didn’t know was that all of Hong Kong with its 50 stories buildings is built by using scaffolding from bamboo. To be precise: bamboo and material from Hong Kong’s shopping bags.

Bamboo was another thing which completely changed my mind in building construction. And as engineer of health and safety I never heard that it is widely used especially in the construction industry nowadays. Do you think it is properly standing on a platform or equal surfaces or fixed with cable ties? The answer  is “No” to both.

– Why do they use such and old method? It must be working though, especially if they still use it for such tall buildings?

– It is not old, it is new, -answered my partner.

He must be right. I recon we just come back to an old thing just with a new price tag. Because for an apartment on the 39th floor with less than 40 m² you pay very a fresh and green and very bamboo like million dollar.hong-kong

Мир Азии полон сюрпризов.

Строительные леса для небоскёбов обнимают всё здание, делая издалека  иглу высотки пушистой (редкая картина на Западе, так как мы уже не возводим леса на всё здание), но самое интересное, что эти леса сделаны из бамбука и из материала челночных рыночных сумок.

Бамбук- легкий, натуральный и экологически чистый материал. Но если вы думаете, что его устанавливают на сбалансированные платформы, с помощью специальных фиксационных механизмов, то вы ошибаетесь. Как срубили, так и стоит и черные тряпочки вроде изоленты – это “связующие звено”. В Гонконге некогда медлить, 50 этажей ждут строителей, а их ждут уже новые жильцы, заплатившие за квартирные 30 м² такой зеленый, как бамбук, миллион американских долларов.

bamboo2

 

365 seconds and 100% guarantee

img_3817-2I had a look at my photos and realised that Hong Kong is much more interesting than just a phenomena of a dog’s public toilets. I ll try to write more about this megacity tomorrow.

Well, it is understandable that while we are travelling, we pay attention to the odd things. For example, in this trip I found the most unusual pizzeria ever. In this café pizza cooks just in 100 seconds and you even can eat it while standing. As advertisement said – if you are not happy -money back guarantee. Sounds like fun? To top it up I just add that this place is open 24/7, and you even can make a selfy, post it on Facebook and view it on the big tv screen in just a seconds.

I found this spot in Upper Austria: pizzamat with coffeemat and drinkomat… and tvmat – all in one spot. Automatic life. Kinda if you want to eat – “mat” yourself. But the most interesting thing is that in the rules of that empty serviceless café says: “No singing, No laud talking and No music making”. What is this life if I can’t even have fun in-between soulless machines? They want me to became one of them?!! Sounds like I should have a pizza in 100 seconds, eat it in 200, make a photo in 5, make a coffee in 10, drink it in 50 and be satisfied in 100 (%).

img_3819-2

Перечитав свой вчерашний пост, я хочу заметить, что Гонконг интересен не только (и не столько!) публичными туалетами для собак; Гонконг – это мега сити, о чём я постараюсь рассказать завтра.

Похоже, когда мы путешествуем наше внимание естественным образом задерживается на всём необычном. Вот, например, на этот раз мы увидели в Австрии самую нестандартную пиццерию. В ней пицца готовится всего за 100 секунд, её можно есть даже стоя. Ещё в этом кафе можно сделать фото на телевизоре и опубликовать его сразу же в фейсбуке и, плюс ко всему, это пиццерия работает 24 часа 7 дней в неделю. Звучит заманчиво? Если качество пиццы вас не устроет, то деньги обещают вернуть.

Пицца готовится в пиццемате, а закуски в автомате рядом, в кофемате выдаются чай и кофе, тогда как напитки в холодильнике напротив. В общем, жизненный автомат. Захотел есть – “отсамомать” себя по-австрийски: сготовь пиццу за 100 секунд, съешь за 200, сфотайся за 5, свари кофе за 10 и выпей его за 50. А главное, не забудь 100%-но порадоваться.