My struggle for my first cup of coffee in Moscow

My struggle for my first cup of coffee in Moscow

My Russian adventure officially started September 2010 and lasted a bit over 2 years!

The unknown, the secretiveness of Moscow acted like a magnet for me. Since I can remember I have always been interested in finding out what actually goes on behind the “iron curtain”. I grabbed at the chance to work and live in Moscow and couldn’t wait to start my adventure. Although I was already scared of the cold winters that I knew lay ahead.

I soon found out that Moscow is a city of superlatives. It boasts the most billionaires, the most expensive cups of coffee, at £4 a cup this is definitely true, and the most churches located in one city!  It has also been voted the most unfriendly city in the world, although I have to disagree with that last statement. The more I got to know the Russians, the more I realized they are actually friendly and helpful in their own way. It just takes them a while to warm up to strangers.

Not prepared for KONKOVA, the suburb where my flat was situated.

I knew that I was going to be living in an old Soviet flat but was still very shocked when I actually walked into my flat. The apartment complex looks like it should have been demolished years ago. It is one of 5 identical apartment blocks all a row. It’s going to be easy to get lost was one of my first thoughts. As predicted during that first week I tried to enter the wrong apartment block a couple of times! Personally I think each apartment block should at least have a different coloured door to make finding your apartment a bit easier.

My flat looked like something out of a horrible 60’s movie – brown wallpaper and some squishy orange stuff that covers the doors and the cupboards. The toilet was wallpapered in some yellow and blue 50’s motive that gave you a headache every time you had to go in there. I had no kettle or microwave and my fridge wasn’t working. It suddenly dawned on me that I was all alone in this strange flat and in this foreign country. Causing me to question my sanity for a moment.

I definitely needed a cup of coffee to cheer me up and so my first buying adventure in Moscow started. I walked to the nearest grocery store which was about  15 minutes away and bought some coffee and what I thought was milk and sugar. Seeing as nothing has any English written on it I had to trust that I was deciphering the pictures correctly. Nobody in the store spoke any English so I couldn’t even ask for help. I should probably have studied a bit of Russian before coming over which would have made life a lot easier for me.

My struggle for my first cup of coffee in Moscow
My very shabby looking Soviet kitchen. And if you look carefully you will see we have an outside window fridge box.

 Got home, boiled some water in a pot on the stove and discovered that I bought salt and some sour yogurt stuff. So I headed back to the store, this time I found some sugar in a clear plastic bag and bought some new “milk”. Back in the flat again, I proceeded to make myself another cup of coffee. I soon discovered that yet again I did not buy milk, this time it was something strawberry flavoured. I really did not understand why they have all these flavoured milk. I had picked the white carton with a cow on, you would have thought that it would have been milk.

By this time I really needed some coffee so I took the cup of black coffee and walked all the way to the store with it. I then continued to ask the clerk to help me by pointing at my coffee and the milk rack. I took her to the milk isle and then pointed at the cartons and asked which one I could pour into my coffee, she did laugh at me but at least helped me out.Third time lucky I guess.

Must add that after the milk incident whenever I came into the store the clerk was standing close buy to help me, which I admit helped a lot since my Russian was nearly non existent at that time and trying to decipher what a product is from the pictures on it does not always work.

I quickly made an effort to learn the Russian alphabet and some basic words so things got a little bit easier after my first failed shopping experience.

My struggle for my first cup of coffee in Moscow
Small bedroom with very ugly wallpaper



  1. I like the idea of throwback Thursday:) Maybe I will join next Thursday!

    But anyways, what I was going to say was. That is exactly how I imagined the old apartment buildings in Moscow would look – but that could just be from watching to many movies:)

    I can also fully understand your struggles to do grocery shopping, and I a, a bit surprised of the lack of english in Moscow (but I probably shouldn’t be). I even struggle find what I am looking for here in Canada, and everything is in english! 🙂

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! I’m living at Moscow since 2013 in that kind of apartments. Fortunately, it was completely renovated, so it’s looks very good. I’m very happy living in my soviet building. You didn’t have good luck with you’re apartament.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Janaline! Wow, this is how I felt when I traveled through the Balkans… I was so mesmerized by the culture and longing to know more history, I was always curious, yet confused as everything seems a bit off, but it is what I miss the most! Are you still living in Russia?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Did you ever figure out why those Cold War era apts were so drably fashioned? Was that “look” is style at the time? what does the new construction today look like? And one final qt: how is their coffee?


    • You find great coffee in Moscow and even very tasty ice-coffees!! I think this was sort of the style back then and then nothing got up dated for a long long time…..people are actually starting to renovate and up-date their places now and the new apartment buildings look a lot better on the inside.


Please share your thoughts,I would love to know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.