Russian Raf Coffee Is An Ultra Thick And Creamy Take On Your Favorite Morning Drink

When you think about Russian beverages, the first sipper that comes to mind might be the White Russian cocktail. But if you're looking for a creamy, espresso-flavored bevy to get your day started long before that iconic evening digestif, look no further than Russian Raf coffee. The main feature of Raf coffee is that cream is whipped together with espresso and sugar for a thick, creamy mouthfeel.

Compared to a latte or cappuccino, Russian Raf coffee uses a different preparation method by adding the espresso, cream, and sugar directly to the milk pitcher to steam together, simultaneously combining and thickening into a unified mixture. The drink bares similarity to Turkish coffee, in which the sugar is brewed into the coffee grounds for a rich, sweetened cup (by the way, if you're drinking Turkish coffee on the go, you're doing it wrong).

Russian Raf coffee is all about its signature richness. To make a cup, you'll need an espresso machine equipped with a steam wand. To assemble, 1 freshly-pulled espresso shot, 1 ½ teaspoons of cane sugar or vanilla sugar, and 4 ounces of cream get steamed together in an espresso machine milk pitcher — the same tool that baristas use for steaming milk to pour on top of espresso for traditional lattes and cappuccinos. The mixture is steamed until thick and frothy. 10-11% cream is typical, but some establishments use up to 22% cream for a richer brew. 

The name Raf comes from the customer order that inspired its creation

Some folks outside of Russia refer to the bevy as simply "Russian coffee." Per the lore, the name "Raf" comes from a customer at a Russian coffee shop called Rafael, who allegedly inspired the drink by asking his barista to make him something new. The customer's request inspired the barista to create the treat that fans know today by its shorthand name, Russian "Raf" coffee. Although, this is far from the only proposed origin story.

An alternative theory posits that Rafael was an outspoken coffee-hater who entered a Moscow cafe in 1996 proclaiming that he would never like the taste of coffee drinks, and the barista created the frothy, sweetened beverage to prove him wrong. Another theory says that the customer's full name was Rafael Timerbaev, and that he simply asked for a "good cup of coffee with milk." Other customers learned of the barista's innovative creation and, in turn, visited the same cafe asking for "the drink that was made for Rafael," breeding the name "Raf coffee."

Still another story says that Rafael was a student and avid tea-drinker, and the drink was initially popularized by the word-of-mouth of his fellow students. Incidentally, in the spirit of creation and innovation, Russian Raf coffee is a great crafted espresso beverage for new baristas, as its flavorful ingredients mean the drink relies less on a perfectly executed technique to achieve a successful drink than macchiatos or cortados.