So. . . here is the continuation of my sad saga of my quest for a good cup of coffee. Over the years we have purchased two different coffee makers to use with SAI teams. I brought a large amount of paper filters with me—thanks to Costco. I also brought my favorite blends of both Starbucks and Pioneer Coffee with me. Since the tap water is unsafe to drink, I am using the bottled water we buy in large bottles. I have actually tried several brands of water but alas even with all these options, I have not been able to brew a decent cup of coffee. I finally shelved the coffee maker.

The sale of instant coffee is big business here. Often when we go to orphanages, we are invited to have coffee or tea with the director. I quit asking for coffee after a few encounters with instant-Ukrainian style. This picture is of my friend Maria having a cup of coffee at Mostysche Orphange. In the next picture you see director Natasha and our other friends.

This is how they make it: Take about four large spoonfuls of instant. Place in a small cup. Add about 6 ounces of water. Stir and drink. With this recipe, I am able to stay up for a couple of days without even nodding off. So now I ask for TEA.

Don’t feel too bad for me though because I have discovered MacCoffee. I kid you not. It is wonderful. In fact, MacCoffee went over so well that many different companies now make their version of it. (See the picture.) Individual packets are available in a number of different flavors. The 3 in 1 blends include coffee, creamer and sugar. I drink one sugar free coffee and creamer packet plus one of the flavored ones like mocha, amaretto or hazelnut. Otherwise the mixture is too sweet. Just last week, I discovered a Russian brand (MacCoffee has English writing on it and the words “American Taste” on the front. Hmmm! Wonder where that comes from.) I have liked every flavor so far. And best of all, each packet costs between 10-12 cents. So my coffee maker will remain on the shelf and I will just keep drinking MacCoffee. If you come to visit me, I will share this experience with you.

A note on the coffee establishments that I mentioned in my last email. In December when Mike and I were waiting for the container, we were walking by the metro at the Golden Gates. We noticed that there were some boards being put together about 15 feet out onto the sidewalk. When we passed the spot the next time, walls had been framed up and heating ducts were being installed. By the time we left Ukraine three weeks later, we actually had a cup of coffee in a completely finished, new coffee house. We sat at modern tables set on ceramic tiled floors in the space that people had walked through for years after exiting the metro. We watched people walking by in the cold on the other side of the large plate glass windows. This building had literally grown there in a very short span of time.Sidewalks are being used for many things now. Small buildings appear very quickly and normal traffic routes have to be revised. Lately the biggest challenge is to not get run over by a car or bus while walking on the sidewalk. I will write more about that in a subsequent email. For now, enjoy your coffee and think of us.