First things first. The mission ahead, right after my arrival, was clear: find good coffee. And find it fast. The destination: Sierra Coffee, two magical words widely circulating in the expat community (I did my online coffee research long before I got here. I am very serious about coffee.). And, yes, I hereby officially endorse Sierra Coffee. On Manas.
And this is why. Great coffee. You can also buy it by the half pound. Excellent Espresso and Cappuccino. And the friendliest, nicest baristas. They are the heart and soul of Sierra.
Baked goods (brownies, cookies, and a variety of muffins), diverse breakfast and lunch items. And, a bilingual menu: great for learning Russian!
The setting: nice and sunny space, a section with comfortable black leather chairs, outdoor seating under umbrellas, free wifi (which you find in practically all cafés here), in the background that certain coffee house music. So this is how it looks ROUND HERE, at Sierra. Which I had to throw in, just for fun, as they are playing the Counting Crows at this very moment.
And if all of this looks and sounds strangely (for some eerily) familiar to you, it’s because the furniture is imported from Seattle. Starbucks hardware gone Bishkek. Yes, the owner (himself from New Zealand) told me so. Sometimes, when you live in a foreign place faraway from your home(s) and feel yet unsettled, that very familiarity, the mere recognition of design and taste and sound, even though it may be grounded in generic corporate culture, can be quite nice and just what you want and need that moment. Don’t underestimate the sensation of tasting a banana nut muffin where you didn’t expect to find one.
Predictably lots of expatriates, from all corners of the world. It’s nice to hear so many different languages every morning. The world seems such a small place at Sierra. MacBook Pro Central. They also have a magazine rack: right now with Bon Appétit (merci), Sports Illustrated (come on), Woman’s Day (I live it every day—why read it), and Der Spiegel (na gut), among others. Granted, some are a bit outdated. You may want to skip the July 2006 copy of Shape, for example, as you clearly missed getting flat abs by August 1, as the cover promises. August six years ago, that was. Sorry. Maybe next year. And they have an English-language bookshelf. My picks of the day: As I Lay Dying, Russian Grammar, and Curious George Rides. In a nutshell: Sierra rocks. I will review the other coffee places over the next weeks. Let’s give them a fair chance.