Tea has long been a cornerstone of Kazakh culture and hospitality. Whether served in small, traditional cups or large overflowing mugs, history has long had Kazakh neighbours and family chatting, debating and doing business over large, steaming kettles of tea. Today, friends still warm their hands around a cup of tea over chilly afternoons, but beverage choices have expanded and coffee is the current café king in Kazakhstan.
Luckily, there are enough cafes in the country's major cities to satisfy even the most discriminating coffee connoisseur. In Astana, the lines between café, bar, restaurant, and lounge tend to blur. You can blow the foam off your latte while listening to live traditional music at Kvartal, or bring East and West together with an authentic Italian espresso followed by hookah at BonBon near the Baiterek Tower. And Del Papa café and Caramel keep things family friendly with good drinks, homey atmospheres, and (at Caramel) board games. Night owls can have a snack and a game of pool at Red and White, open 24 hours a day.
Almaty's java lovers take their caffeine at 4A Coffee – a great place to meet expats – or at Lounge Bar 29, where an afternoon chat can extend into a night out when the DJ starts playing and the hard drinks start flowing. Internet addicts head for the WiFi – and desserts – at Madlen or Coffeedelia.
So whether you like traditional tea or the latest coffee concoction, you'll have no problem finding a warm cup to share with friends and chase away the autumn chill.