The city of too many clichés, Tula is often seen as a sort of a historic reserve with obligatory onion-domed kremlin, and the museums of local symbols and specialties - samovars, guns and gingerbread included. However, in the past couple of years Tula has been trying to slip away from those stereotypes and show its ultra-modern side with Oktava, Typography, Iskra and Likerka community spaces opening up inside the former factory premises, and the new Upa River embankment being transformed into a stylish landscape park. Tula's booming specialty coffee scene is an integral part of this trend. We've selected the best coffee shops in town to put on your hit list.
Set just across the square from the Tula Kremlin, Mr. Cup is an effortlessly cool botanical café selling perfectly crafted brews and indulgent brunches. The interior looks like a millennial's mood board, with reclaimed wood tables, gigantic palm fronds and walls dripping with ivy. Their menu changes seasonally, always offering up fresh and local flavours, including their signature Tula gingerbread pudding and quirky coffee drinks - think Earl Gray tea with espresso, fresh orange juice, milk, ice and orange peel - which is truly delicious despite everything. The second branch on Leo Tolstoy Street is much smaller, serving only drinks and sandwiches.
Coffee Cult is a key player on the Tula coffee scene founded by an award-winning barista Andrey Kolbasinov. There're currently five branches scattered across Tula, as well as a barista school and courses for coffee afficionados. Single origin beans are sampled on Hario and AeroPress, while milk coffee section features velvety cappuccinos and flat whites. Embracing both international trends and local identity, Coffee Cult serves both millennials drinks of choice such as matcha latte and marshmallow-topped hot chocolate and local specialties such as creamy Tula gingerbread Raf and iced chocolate with traditional Soviet biscuits and plombir ice cream.
The new kid on the block, Velocafé is located inside the famous microphone factory-cum-cultural space, opened earlier this year. Its bright interior dominated by cobalt-blue walls, teal velvet sofas and scarlet chairs is a refreshing antidote to monochrome idustrial spaces of the former factory. The first bike-friendly café in town, Velocafé serves delicious barista-brewed coffee and a range of loose teas, freshly made sandwiches and muffins.
Nestled inside yet another creative space in an old printing house just outside the city centre, Typography boasts exposed brick walls, tiered seats and colourful retro furniture. Essentially, Typography is an event space for concerts, parties, talks and cinema screenings, but the coffee shop is an integral part of it where guests and participants flock together. It's your go-to place for healthy breakfasts, vegan lunches and coffee which is at its best here, brewed with clinical precision and minute attention to detail. They also have a range of seasonal drinks including pumpkin and banana or cheese latte, and spicy pineapple tea.
Bary charms with a chic but casual atmosphere, created by pastel colours, natural materials and abundance of plants. There're six branches dispersed around town, but the one inside the Central Park is our favourite. In the warmer months, grab a table outside and order their signature Smoky Raf Coffee made with a shot of espresso, smoked tea and cream. Food-wise, there's an all-day breakfast featuring bagles alongside freshly-made waffles, healthy porridges and a selection of not-so-healthy-but-delicious cakes and baked goods.
GRP Cafe is a stylish patisserie known for its Insta-viral cakes, but coming here for coffee is just as smart a move. These guys show their seriosness by serving American press, Kalita and Pour Over in addition to espresso-based drinks brewed with loving devotion. Grab a table out front for perfect people watching, and choose from the oodles of eclairs, macarons, tarts, brownies and cupcakes that definitely deserve to be recorded for posterity's sake.
A postage stamp-sized coffee shop right next to Oktava Space, Zerna is all about beans and grains, where beans stand for top-notch specialty coffee and grains for delicious artisanal sandwiches. Come here for hearty breakfasts served all day and single-origin coffee supplied by Moscow-based West4 Roasters, and don't forget to sample their homemade cakes and sweet and nutty Tula gingerbread Raf Coffee.
Right in the heart of Tula, Coffee and People is a tiny café drawing a hipster crowd with its Scandi-inspired interiors and light-roasted coffee. Come summer, they serve their signature coffee kvass, espresso tonic and lemonades which you can slurp on a bench outside. Come winter, there're sweet, thick and silkily creamy Rafs with homemade salted caramel, saffron, pine-tree, spices and orange. Dairy can be easily substituted with soya, walnut, hazelnut or almond milk, and there're plenty of black coffee options. They also have a display of irresistible handmade cakes, tarts and cookies to satisfy your sugar cravings.
One of the pioneers of third wave coffee movement in Russia, Kafema is a Vladivostok-based roastery with branches all across Russia. Their new café is located in a 19th-century liquor warehouse just outside the city centre which has recently been turned into a cultural space. Kafema is the place to go for small-batch, single-origin coffee - sold in packs and brewed in cups. Don't miss their regular cupping sessions, and check out their seasonal specials like pine-nut cappuccino, nitro coffee or refreshing espresso tonics.