Red Corner: Moscow Cafe Culture

For those of you who still imagine Moscow as a poverty-stricken, Cold War backwater of breadlines and borscht-slurping malcontents, I invite you to check out the following website.

Coffee Mania is a chain of coffee shops which has become quite popular in Moscow. When I first started visiting the city in the early 1990s, coffee came black or not at all. Cups of Joe could be purchased in the few food establishments around the city, but there was no café culture where one could leisurely enjoy a drink and chat with their friends (Allowing the discontented a venue in which to collectively express their anger is never a good idea for a dictatorship).

But, with the fall of communism, café culture has come back to Moscow. In addition to Coffee Mania, there are at least half a dozen other coffee chains and numerous independent cafes in which to comfortably sip away one’s time in the capital (although I can’t promise the same for areas outside of Moscow).

Please take a moment to check out the amazing site from Coffee Mania. Not only will its virtual tour make believers of Cold War stalwarts that there is capitalist normalcy in Moscow, but the site is amazing itself (albeit a bit slow to upload). It is simply the best virtual tour I’ve seen to date on the web (which also says quite a bit about the progress of Russian programming).