A Small Dictionary for Coffee in Russian

A Small Dictionary for Coffee in Russian
04 July 2017

Why am I writing a guide with a small dictionary about coffee in Russian? For me it’s the first week of Russian classes in St. Petersburg, which means that

1. After two weeks of vacation I need to start waking up early again, which means that

2. I need coffee.

Luckily, right on the banks of the Neva is one of Petersburg’s hidden gems: Russia’s first and only Museum of Coffee. Since 2008, the museum has offered tours on the history and preparation of coffee, a coffee tasting, master classes on roasting, cupping classes, and even has a cafe where you can sample various types of coffee. I decided to check out what the museum has to offer with my former host mother, Olya, and we both left satisfied and slightly crazed from too much caffeine. Here are a few words to help you get through the rapid fire Russian-only tour, and to aid you in all your future Russian coffee-making endeavors.

1. Ягоды – “Berry” of coffee in Russian

Literally translated as “berry,” in the context of coffee ягоды refers to coffee cherries. This is the fruit that grows on coffee trees, and inside of which is the coffee bean that we’re all familiar with.

2. Зерно – coffee bean in Russian

The beloved coffee bean. What more is there to say? The coffee bean is, obviously, so essential to coffee that the museum tour is named От зерна до чашки: from bean to cup.

3. Обработка – extracting the coffee in Russian

Обработка refers to the process of extracting the coffee bean from the coffee cherry to prepare it for manufacturing and roasting. There are two different methods of обработка: влажная or мытая, meaning wet processing, and сухой, meaning dry processing.

4. Варить кофе – prepare coffee in Russian

Whereas in English we use the verb “to make” when referring to making basically any type of food or drink (to make soup, to make coffee, to make a sandwich, tea, etc.), Russians are a bit more specific in how they talk about food. Варить кофе literally translates as “to boil or brew coffee,” and is the phrase you want to use at home to assure anyone who happens to be over for breakfast that coffee is on the way (я варю кофе).

5. Кофеварка – coffee maker in Russian

From the verb варить сomes the noun варка, and together with coffee this translates to “the thing that makes the coffee,” aka the traditional electric coffee make – isn’t Russian etymology fun? There are many different ways to make coffee, including the капельная кофеварка (electric drip coffee maker), френч-пресс (French press), гейзерная кофеварка (Mokka pot), туркa (the copper pot used to make Turkish coffee that does not have a specific English equivalent) or эспрессо-машинa (espresso machine).

6. Кофемолка –

Just like кофеварка, кофемолка (coffee grinder) comes from the verb молоть: to grind. At the coffee museum they have their own gigantic кофемолка, and they’ll make you молотый кофе (ground coffee) for free if you decide you want to buy the museum’s blend.

7. Бодрящий – the effect of coffee in Russian

My favorite word in the dictionary, the adjective бодрящий is often used to describe the effect of coffee. It at once means invigorating, energizing, strong, and simply “keeps you awake.” It really only refers to the feeling that you get after drinking coffee, whereas крепкий (strong) more refers to the amount of кофеин (caffeine) in your daily cup.

8. Аромат – the aroma of coffee in Russian

What’s better than the smell of coffee? (Answer: nothing). Аромат translates as aroma, or smell, and post-excursion at the museum the tour guide will let you smell (нюхать) the аромат of the museum’s different blends. Some of them even have added aromas to enhance the coffee experience, such as strawberry and cream and chocolate almond. You’ll have to restrain yourself from eating the beans straight from the jar.

With these eight phrases you’ll be a Russian coffee connoiseur in no time! The museum is located at Воскресенская наб., (бывшая Робеспьера наб.) д.14 (Voskresenskaya naberezhnaya, formerly Robespierre naberezhnaya, number 14). Bring your small dictionary along and try out some coffee vocabulary. You can share your coffee experience with Liden & Denz and get in touch with us with our Facebook page.


Emily, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg

Posted by Emily Ziffer

I'm Emily, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg and on the hunt for vegetables, climbing, books, and coffee.

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