Hello there! How are you? Yes, it HAS been a while. There are no excusable excuses to be had here. As I write this, I am no longer living in Baltimore. I have moved back home for a bit. I am taking a French class at the local community college and spending Sunday mornings at the Eastern Market. Step back from Detroit. Close your eyes. Let’s pretend I am back in Baltimore on a crispy January Sunday morning. For me, Sundays are synonymous with latte’s and the New York Times. The only place to execute your Sunday routine is the Daily Grind where you can taste the very essence of Baltimore in your coffee grounds.
The Daily Grind is one of those coffee houses that you walk into immediately feel at ease. You are not going to be overwhelmed by pretension and a barista looking at you like you’re dumb if you just want a humble cup of coffee (no frills please!).
The shop is situated right on the harbor. If you go on Saturday mornings, there is a farmer’s market just a block or two away on Broadway. Once inside, you can smell a mix of bread, eggs, and coffee.
The counter reminds me of European cafes; it has a half door that opens to the sidewalk for people with dogs–and they sell cigarettes behind the counter like a scene from Amelie. You can pick up a great variety of newspapers, but the New York Times can sell out before noon if you aren’t careful.
This place is truly a haunt for locals. One of the tables across from the bathrooms has a sign that reserves it for a small group of people early in the mornings. It has an incredible amount of natural light with skylights and a brick facade. The lattes are good and a dollar cheaper than Starbucks. Most importantly, its a great place to sit down and relax, and get to know the real neighborhood.
Happy Tuesday Everyone! Ukraine tends to be a country that has tea time and a tea aisles that resemble a shrine colored with all that nature will allowed to be steeped in water. Me, being an American with coffee running in my veins, had to stifle my panic after finding there is not a very high quality coffee scene in the Ukrainian cities I have been too.
There is a place I was introduced to, eventually becoming a regular, called the Golden Ducat (translated to English). It is a relatively small franchise, I was first there in January while spending Christmas in a beautiful city called Lviv or Lvov. The shop there has mirrors on the ceiling and is decorated with rich, dark wood. It is a little piece of heaven in an enchanting city.
In Kiev, there are two Golden Ducats, one is near the Arsenalna station on the tube, (pictured above). They have a parrot there with an opinion about everything. The wall near the parrot cage has hundreds of coins stuck in the crevices of the wall if you look closely. The second coffee shop is my favorite one, off of Kreschatk Station on the tube (where the main square of the city is). You exit in the opposite direction of the main square and go up two sets of huge escalators and turn right. It’s about two or three blocks directly down the street. Truth be told, the second Golden Ducat is easily walking distance from Arsenalna station as well.
Why is Golden Ducat worth coping with the potential tourists that will be milling about? First of all, it is arguably the most famous coffee shop in Ukraine for a reason. They boast no artificial ingredients and care deeply about the quality of their chocolate. Second of all, they have a friendly staff, who will smile and remember your face. Third, the environment is both romantic (candles!) and laid back enough where you can come by yourself and not be made aware of it by everyone around you. All of the shops share a narrow, dark staricase and very solid wooden furniture. They are popular with the international crowd, don’t worry they have English menu’s. Personally, I would recommend their frappe. It is a delicious mix of milk, chocolate, ice cream and coffee.
There are tons of other coffee shops in Ukraine, but none have the homey, original feel of Golden Ducat. The some of the other coffeeshops feel strangely like Starbucks or at least taste like corporate interest. On a plus side, some of my less favorite one’s are open 24 hours. If you have visited Ukraine and had a great latte, feel free in chime in and leave a recommendation!
**A note to readers. I am not from Ukraine, and have absolutely no language skills, so I am going to step out on a limb and openly admit that I may have misspelled some items. When possible I use Google to check for accuracy, but for instance, you will notice no link to the Golden Ducat website, that is because I couldn’t find one. Please bear with me and feel free to share any information that may be helpful to others! Good luck on your search for that perfect cup of Joe!