“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Is this famous quote geniunely uttered by Sigmund Freud? We don’t know really. But what we know is that a cup of coffee is never only a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee is a brilliant example of sociological imagination, that is, “the awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society”. We don’t consume coffee just for the sake of consuming it. It has symbolic values in our lives. For most of us, it is the indispensable part of our morning routines. We usually have an idle chit-chat along with a mug. We even take a tough stance for the coffee farmers by buying fair trade certified beans.
Well, I personally love trying food, drinks that have a story behind. Raf is indeed one of them. What is its story? One day a regular customer at a shop called Coffee Bean asks for a good cup of coffee with milk and he unwittingly becomes the eponym of one of the most popular drinks in Russia. Rafael Timerbaev’s open-ended request and the barista’s improvisation with a shot of espresso, cream and milk soon become popular among Rafael’s friend and they ask for the same drink made for Rafael or simply “Raf”. I had the opportunity to taste today’s classic formula. I am saying “today’s” because there is no consensus on the original recipe and there are several widespread versions of the drink. So, my Raf was made up from one shot of espresso, cream, one tablespoon of plain sugar and one tablespoon of vanilla sugar. If you have a sweet tooth and prefer drinking your coffee with sugar, Raf is just perfect for you. However, it was overwhelmingly sweet for me. Nonetheless, Raf has a symbolic value in my life now and I belong to a cultural, sociological chain of people that I have never met. It was definitely worth it!