Just a stone’s throw away from Maidan Nezalezhnosti and Saint Sophia Cathedral sits the dream of a passionate coffee-lover and experienced barista Alexander Dola- the month-old One Little Coffee Shop. Whether you’re looking for your next caffeine-fix on your morning commute, a tranquil place to sit and work or a cup of speciality coffee as you chat away a Saturday afternoon with friends, this little spot has proven popular amongst Kievans and tourists. Alex, the owner, and his colleague Lucy are sure it’ll charm you too!
So you’re a new player in Kyiv coffee! How long have you been open?
The coffee shop was opened at the end of December 2017, so it’s just over one month old. It’s very fresh indeed. Everything here is new!
Why did you decide to open a coffee shop?
It was a dream come true for me as the owner. I worked as a barista in a famous Viennnese-style coffee house in my home region of Chernivtsi for around 3 years. I learnt everything I know through experience and by teaching myself over 6 years of barista work. It was a very touristic place and it was a great experience to work there. After this, I moved to Kyiv with my friends in 2013 and opened Coffee Kiosk on the left bank suburbs, not far from where Eurovision 2017 took place. It then seemed natural to follow my dream and look to own my own coffee shop, something bigger and more permanent.
The name “One Little Coffee Shop” stands out and fits your shop perfectly- how did you choose it?
There really is no deep meaning behind the name, we just had lots of different options and decided to settle on this one. I choose this one mainly because it is simple, easy to remember and really reflects the essence of what it is- one little shop which sells coffee. We also plan to open a “One Little Souvenir Shop” inside.
What would you say is the most popular coffee you have?
It honestly depends on the reason for the customer’s visit. More classical drinks, such as cappuccino and flat white, are more popular during the working week. The shop also offers alternative brewing methods such as filter coffee and V60. At weekends, these more specialist, different methods are popular.
Coffee is much more than just coffee…
Our equipment and methods have become an attraction for tourists. Just the other day, a foreign man visiting Kyiv walked past the shop, stopped, looked in the window and then came in. It turns out he had noticed our La Marzocco coffee machine through the window, a well-known machine brand. We pride ourselves on the equipment we use and know this makes a difference to the taste of the coffee and the experience- high-quality coffee machine, cups etc… People come here to enjoy coffee.
Is it a real mix of clients here- coffee experts and those just looking for their next cup?
FourSquare, with its details, brings real coffee fans, those who are looking for a specific coffee or brewing method. This week, we have had foreign visitors who have said: “we read you have filter coffee!”. There are people for whom excellent, well-prepared coffee is a must. Another clientele are those who just come past and think ‘wow! this looks different!’- although these people come for good coffee, they are also coming to take nice photos of the coffee and the shop for Instagram to show to their friends that they’ve been to the latest spot. To be honest, we have everything from ‘coffee tourists’ to local office workers and avid Instagrammers.
The design is very minimalistic, was this intentional?
Yes, we wanted to make sure that the minimalistic, not overly elaborated design stood out from the rest and stood the test of time with fashion and design trends moving on so quickly. We wanted the whole space to be light, warm, inviting and modern, even in a small space and an old building.
I noticed that there are some postcards and little crafts on sale….
Yes, we have a small selection of original photography postcards of famous views of Kyiv, made by a local amateur photographer and some coffee-inspired cards and badges made by my sister. We’d like to expand this range using local producers. Yet, we want to make sure that they are coffee-related and maybe carry our brand- I don’t know, maybe some bags or steel coffee mugs which have become popular of late. Ukrainians, and hopefully foreigners, will really like this.
Why did you choose this location or did the location choose you?
The latter, definitely. The place chose me as I had spent a lot of time searching for the perfect place. I didn’t have really strict requirements for the place, apart from the fact that it must be in the city centre. I was also searching for other locations popular throughout the week such as Lvivska Square. Here is an amazing location, between two major Kyiv landmarks. I also like how warm this space is when you come in from the cold streets into this warm, homey building. When I found this, I knew this was it.
Alex, why was this a dream for you?
I wanted to make coffee my lifestyle. This is not just a job for me, it is my lifestyle. I don’t go to work, I always wanted to go to work and feel like I wasn’t working. This is the dream for a lot of people and certainly when you’re the most effective at work!
Do you have much support?
Yes, I have the support of the original team with whom I opened up the coffee stand on the other side of the river. I’m the owner but my friends and girlfriend are immensely supportive in making this dream a reality.
Lucy, what is your role?
I am in charge of communication for the business, mostly through social media. I previously worked at the exhibition centre working in management and gained experience with social media working at exhibitions and being a Project Manager for an IT startup in Kyiv. I was walking through the streets of the neighbourhood when I first noticed the coffee shop. I discovered that they were doing nothing with social media to boost the business. It started off with me giving Alex some advice, but then one day he just said: “why don’t you do all this?”. Almost all publicity is done through our Facebook, Instagram and FourSquare accounts- this is especially important for foreign visitors.
If you’re in a rush: a takeaway flat white
If you’re wanting to get comfy: a speciality filter coffee and an irresistible meringue
Average coffee price: 30 UAH
Vibe: minimalistic, modern, alternative and cosily warm