I used to hate drinking coffee; My friends at school know I love Diet Coke, but while I have been in Moscow the past two months I have found myself drinking and enjoying coffee more than ever before. My new coffee habit might be because I have not seen a single Diet Coke since I have been here, but it might also be a result of the cold weather that is still present in early April. Moscow also has an abundance of anti-cafes which do nothing to help my growing love of coffee (an anti-cafe is a unique place where a person pays for his or her time rather than the drinks and food he or she purchases). For example, one of my favorite anti cafes in Moscow only costs 350 rubles and you can stay for as many hours as you want and get free unlimited coffee and cookies (disclaimer, this café doesn’t have the best coffee, but it is my favorite because they have at least 20 cats that roam the building). There are also other anti-cafes in Moscow which have better coffee for free as long as you pay the price for your time there.
While coffee is everywhere in Moscow, I have had a hard time finding soda that I like. There are cans and bottles of soda all over Moscow but I have always preferred to drink soda from a fountain machine, like at a fast food restaurant. Unfortunately, my best option here is a McDonalds Coke Zero, which is never served with ice and does not compare to a Diet Coke from home. Other than the fact that I would rather enjoy soda from home, this difference contributes to my love of coffee because I would rather spend my time in a local cafe than a McDonalds. Clearly, there have been many factors contributing to my newfound appreciation of coffee: Moscow's climate, the abundance of anti-cafes, and the lack of good soda. Beyond these factors, however, lies the truth that I simply like the idea of being a coffee drinker because I feel slightly more sophisticated with a cup of coffee or cappuccino.
My coffee appreciation may seem unimportant compared to other factors of life in Moscow, but it is actually representative of my personal attempt to adapt to the culture and react to this new environment. Back home I used to enjoy my early morning trips to the McDonalds drive-through for a cold Diet Coke but now when that is not an option, I have adapted and I find just as much enjoyment from a different morning routine. Going into the city to study in a cafe rather than staying in my dorm is also a simple way to get outside and see Moscow while still being productive. Finally, the atmosphere of anti-cafes is something I have never seen in America. It’s all about the little things in life and living in Moscow has pushed me to appreciate the small joy of coffee which I could never bring myself to appreciate in America.