Kiev Street Coffee & Hot Wine
My bus arrived around 5 a.m. It was early but I was ready. I took a step out of the bus and into the freezing temperature outside. Welcome to Autumn in Kiev! I needed something hot to drink as soon as possible! As I was thinking about this I realized I was lost. I didn’t have a legitimate map, I couldn’t read any of the signs, people couldn’t really speak English to help me and I don’t know if giving them a hostel address would have helped anyway. I was a few miles away from where I needed to be. I started to see vendors selling coffee on the street. Being such a huge fan of street food I began to wonder – is Kiev street coffee a thing? I wondered.
I didn’t have any of the local currency so the ATM was my first stop. Thankfully my bank allowed me to withdraw money without issue. I couldn’t find free WiFi anywhere. I had become spoiled on free WiFi in other parts of Europe. I had a nearly blank Google Map of Kiev queued and luckily it had the Metro stops. So there I headed. My hostel had sent me directions on how to get there from the Metro. I eventually figured it out. The best part? The Metro cost a mere $0.20. Yet another reason to travel to Kiev.
Speaking of affordability, every Kiev street coffee and hot wine I came across was only $1-$2!
As I continued my freezing walk, for which I was clearly under-dressed, I walked by something I had never seen before. A double-decker bus turned coffee shop! Kiev street coffee is real! How cool is this?
READ MORE: Kiev Street Food
Started in 2009, Coffee Bus describe themselves as good people who serve great coffee. Their retro converted buses allow for you to stop by and order from the street to-go or you can sit inside at one of their tables and enjoy your coffee indoors. Citing how difficult it was to find quality coffee beans in Ukraine when they opened, the owners traveled across Italy before finding the coffee beans they would use to make these special brews. With all of their locations across Kiev you won’t have to wander far before finding one.
I ordered a double espresso with a splash of milk and sugar for just under $2.
The full Coffee Bus story of how they began making street coffee can be found here.
Each of their eight locations can be found here.
One of the most noticeable street coffee vendors you will see in Kiev is Magic Snail. They are commonly cited by locals as a favorite and tend to almost always have a line, even here in the rain as I observed. Making espresso, lattes, cappuccino and other specialty drinks, they’re one of the most popular options for street coffee. The drinks I saw were around $1.50-$2.
Although they don’t currently have a website, you can find them on Facebook.
For an interesting story about how Kiev tried to shut them down and how they protested by bringing more than a dozen of their vehicles to City Hall click here.
Independent Street Coffee Vendors & Kiosks
A number of vehicles that sell street coffee have minimal branding on their vehicles and mostly just have signs listing what they sell and their prices. The menus may not be in English so make sure to download the Google Translate App with Ukrainian to English when you can. Some of them speak a little bit of English while others do not. I was able to order espresso for around $1 by just pointing to the machine but ordering a latte versus a cappuccino may prove more difficult.
Pierogi bread is also available at many kiosks and makes a wonderful quick breakfast option on the go. The one I ordered here was stuffed with spinach and cheese. Yum!
I have to confess I was in a hurry, didn’t translate the menu, and had no idea what I was ordering. I just saw it had cheese on top and it looked good.
Another one of the advantages of the independent street coffee vendors is that some of them also sell hot wine. You may have to ask around for it.
In Ukrainian ‘wine’ looks like ‘вино’ and is pronounced “vi-no” like in Italian.
The wine has some added spices and possibly some brandy, depending on the vendor, and comes in a coffee cup. This will keep it warm and keep the fact that you’re drinking wine a secret.
For only around $2 for a large this is another great deal that’s hard to beat. It also tastes great and will keep you warm on a cold day in Kiev.
Lots of street coffee and hot wine vendors can be found across Kiev. For only $1-$2, the price is just another reason to travel to Kiev. Factor in the great deals on street food I enjoyed for only a few dollars and the incredible locals you’ll meet and you will love this city. I can’t wait to return!
Budmo! (Cheers in Ukrainian)
Have you come across street coffee in any other city? Please comment below!
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