On arriving to Kyrgyzstan expect to drink and be offered a lot of tea. The good news is that tea in most cafes is really top-notch (just forget about Starbucks tea bags). A teapot would cost you less than a dollar or two at most. As for coffee, it will come at a higher price (around $2) and not every cafe or even restaurant will have it on the menu.
Just 5 years ago our capital got its first real “Western” style Coffee shop, a place where you could see an English menu written at the counter and where you order coffee and they write your name on the cup, just like in movies, just like a place called Starbucks! You can’t imagine how excited the city was! Since then we’ve got many new coffee shops and coffee is getting way more popular (especially among young people).
One of the most popular coffee shops (the one I mentioned above) with a high concentration of foreigners and modern locals is Sierra. Where should we take our foreign friends to? Sierra! Where should we meet ? Near Sierra! Where should we hold a meeting? Sierra? A training/presentation? Sierra!
Local “Starbucks” was founded by Brad Brenneman (from New Zealand) in 2011. The full history as well as the menu, prices, and location can be found on their website (sierra.kg). The chain has three shops around the city. Some have a nice collection of English books (others less) and games for kids. As far as I know, you can even borrow a book which is really kind of them as English books are quite expensive around there.
Sierra offers delicious (most of the time) food and drinks, deserts and ice-creams. Most staff is nice and friendly and speak English, however last time I was visiting Kyrgyzstan I bumped into rude stuff, but I guess all have their bad days. Any time you go there you will see at least one foreigner, drinking his precious coffee and typing something on his macbook, just like the founder of Nomady who spends all his time at Sierra, working online and meeting people. Also, the chain organises different events (check out their website) or cultural nights with live music and days of international cuisine from all over the world.
Adriano is the next coffee shop which is a popular spot for foreigners, great cuisine (especially desserts), delicious coffee, perfect for a business meeting as the design is less “hipster” and more “stylish business man”. You can find the addresses on their website (adrianocoffee.kg). Here you can also see “digital nomads” or people working on their laptops.
Another hot spot coffee shop is Bublik. This place was opened after I left Kyrgyzstan but scrolling down my Facebook or Instagram I always see selfies/check-ins there. One thing I know for sure, they have delicious tea, food and internet. I was there twice and every time I had amazing meals and had an opportunity to see/meet almost all “Social Network celebrities” of Bishkek. Though Bublik has less foreigners than Sierra.
You might think that I’ve been paid to praise these places, but that’s not the case, (although I wouldn’t mind). It’s just really “The Place” for foreigners and modern youngsters, businesspeople and hippies, travellers and families, all people are welcomed and encouraged to be there.