Everything you need to know about Russian coffee

Russian Coffee – Everything You Need To Know

Raf coffee, da! A delightful milk coffee with a shot of espresso, cream, and sugar, comrade!

While Russian coffee culture may be relatively new, surprisingly, they’ve crafted their own unique coffee creation. And no, it’s not just a latte.

In this guide, we’ll uncover the legend behind it, an easy-to-cook home recipe, and much more. Get ready to learn everything you need to know about Raf coffee!

What Is a Russian Coffee?

Raf coffee is a sweet milky coffee drink that has become integral to Russian coffee culture in the past decade. It’s slowly making its way to specialty coffee shops in Europe and America too.

“Raf’’ is short for “Rafael Timerbaev,” the customer whose vague order for a ‘good cup of coffee with milk’ inspired creative baristas to brew this new coffee creation, now known as Raf coffee.

However, it shouldn’t be confused with “White Russian” and “Black Russian,” which are coffee cocktails and completely different beverages.

What Is Russian Coffee Made Of?

Raf coffee is made from espresso, half and half cream (cream with 11% to 18% milkfat), and vanilla sugar. Other variations include using lavender and violet sugar for a flowery note. Unlike classic lattes, the cream is used instead of milk and all the ingredients are mixed and foamed together, giving it a really smooth consistency and mouthfeel.

What Kind of Beans or Grounds Are Used For Good Raf Coffee?

To prepare a good Raf coffee, you need well-extracted espresso shots. We recommend using premium-quality, medium to dark roasted coffee beans ground to a fine powder.

How Much Caffeine Is in Russian Coffee?

A classic Raf coffee typically has one or two shots of espresso. A single espresso shot contains 64 milligrams of caffeine.

How Many Calories Are in Raf Coffee?

Most of the calories in Raf coffee come from cream and sugar. A single serving, a 6-8 oz cup of Raf coffee, has about 170-250 calories.

Raf coffee calorie breakdown per ounce:

  • Cream (11% milkfat): 40 calories
  • Espresso: 2 calories
  • Sugar (1 tbsp): 60 calories

The History of Russian Coffee

History of Russian Coffee

Once upon a time, in the lively “Coffee Bean” coffeehouse in Moscow, back in 1996-1997, an extraordinary discovery unfolded. Rafael Timerbaev, a cherished regular, yearned for something special.

As “The Village,” a private publisher in Moscow, reveals, the baristas, driven by the challenge, whipped up a delightful concoction — espresso, cream, and sugar, all steamed together — a drink they named “coffee for Raf.”

News of this enchanting blend spread like wildfire, and soon, everyone sought “the same coffee as for Raf,” lovingly shortened to “Raf coffee.” Its fame grew, captivating coffee lovers all across Russia. Moscow embraced it with open arms, and the legend of Raf coffee became an integral part of the city’s coffee culture.

A thorough investigation by “Sprudge” confirms its roots, solidifying the legend as true.

Who Invented Russian Coffee?

Sometime in the 1990s, at a coffeehouse called “Coffee Bean,” three baristas—Gleb Neveikin, Artyom Berestov, and Galina Samokhina—made a special coffee with cream and vanilla sugar for their regular customer, Rafael Timerbaev and called it “Raf coffee.” They later added “Raf coffee” to their regular menu!

Where Is Russian Coffee From?

Raf coffee is a Russian coffee drink that first emerged in a coffeehouse located in Kuznetsky Most, Moscow.

How To Make Russian Coffee at Home — 3 Super Easy Steps

Since Raf coffee isn’t commonly served in American and European specialty shops, the only way to savor this Russian delight is to make it at home—unless you plan a trip to Moscow!

How To Make Russian Coffee at Home

Here’s how you can do it.

Step 1: Mix Cream with Flavored Sugar

Pour 4 oz of half-and-half cream (11% milk fat) into a stainless steel milk pitcher. Add one tablespoon of vanilla sugar. Alternatively, you can use one teaspoon of regular sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla sugar for a milder vanilla flavor. You can also use vanilla essence or syrup instead of sugar.

In case you don’t know, vanilla sugar is white sugar infused with whole vanilla beans, available in stores or easily made at home. For a fresh and flowery flavor, try adding lavender or violet sugar in place of vanilla.

Step 2: Pull Espresso

Next, you need espresso. Simply take 17g of finely ground coffee beans, distribute them evenly, and tamp the coffee puck. Pull an espresso shot approximately 30 g (2 oz) directly into the milk pitcher.

This method is ideal if you have an espresso machine at home. However, if you don’t, you can use Moka pot coffee as an alternative.

Step 3: Steam the Milk

Lastly, use the wand steamer on your espresso machine to froth the mixture until it becomes smooth and silky. Then, simply pour it into your cup, and voilà! Enjoy the delightful taste of Raf coffee!

You can use a French press to froth milk if you don’t have a steam wand. Just heat the half and half cream separately, mix it together with espresso and vanilla sugar and then pump it vigorously in the French press until it gets frothy and creamy.

Russian Coffee Recipe

Russian coffee recipe

Raf Coffee Recipe

Print Pin
Prep Time: 4 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes


  • Espresso machine
  • Steam wand
  • Steaming pitcher or small bowl


  • 1-2 shots espresso
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • Optional: Lavender or Violet sugar
  • 1 tbsp regular sugar
  • 4 ounces half and half cream (11% milk fat)


  • Mix half-and-half cream and sugar in a pitcher or small bowl.
  • Pull an espresso shot using your espresso machine directly into the pitcher.
  • Use the steam wand to blend the ingredients until you get a thick, frothy texture.
  • Pour the delightful Raf coffee into a cup and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does RAF Mean in Coffee?

Raf is short for "Rafael Timerbaev," a cherished regular at a coffeehouse in Moscow. Baristas created a special milky coffee for him upon his request. Originally called "coffee for Raf," it later became widely known as Raf coffee. It all happened in the late 90s.

What Is the Difference Between RAF Coffee And Latte?

Raf coffee and lattes have key differences in ingredients and preparation. Lattes use whole milk, while Raf uses half and half cream. Also, in lattes, milk is steamed separately, but in Raf coffee, espresso and cream are steamed together.

What Does RAF Coffee Taste Like?

The classic Raf coffee tastes a bit like creamy vanilla ice cream with a subtle hint of coffee flavor. If you try the lavender Raf coffee variation, you'll also experience delightful and refreshing flowery notes. It has a smooth and silky texture which adds to the sweet taste.

What Coffee Is Popular in Russia?

Russia, being the world's third-largest confectionery market, has quite the sweet tooth. It's no wonder that Raf coffee, with its delightful ice cream-like taste, has captured the hearts of many Russians, becoming a beloved and popular choice for coffee lovers in the country.

Final Thoughts

Discover the wonders of Russian coffee with Raf coffee! We’ve explored its popularity in Russian coffee culture, the legend behind it, and provided an easy-to-follow recipe. Now, it’s your turn to enjoy this delightful brew. Try it yourself and savor the creamy, sweet taste of Raf coffee—the perfect way to experience the charm of Russian coffee culture.