Russian Café Breaks the Internet with Breast Milk Lattes

A cafe in the Russian city of Perm has been getting a lot of attention after announcing plans to introduce a controversial breast milk-infused latte on its menu.

Perm-based cafe chain Coffee Smile has been the talk of the Russian internet over the past week after announcing intentions to use real human breast milk as an ingredient for coffee products like lattes and cappuccinos. The craziness started earlier this month, when Coffee Smile locations started plastering posters advertising the controversial new ingredient. People started sharing photos of the photos on social media, and before long, local businessman and Coffee Smile owner Maxim Kobelev released a promotional video claiming that his cafes will be using genuine breast milk stored in special, pharmacy-grade bags.

Photo: Taylor Franz/Unsplash

“I recently went on maternity leave and saw that a lot of breast milk is required. I have a lot of it,” a young mother and supplier of breast milk for the cafe says in the video. “The child eats just a little, so I thought: why not earn extra money? I’m a hairstylist, but you can’t cut much hair with a child. I even made coffee with breast milk for my husband, he liked it.”

Kobelev even assures would-be customers that the mothers supplying the breast milk are all tested to ensure the safe consumption of the product, adding that only about 40-45 doses of breast milk-infused drinks will be served in the beginning, with plans to ramp up production to about 1,000 products by the end of the year. The price of one drink – 650 rubles ($8).

After the promotional video went viral on social media, people started wondering whether the whole thing was a hoax, and why the Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s food safety authority, wasn’t getting involved. A few expressed interest in trying coffee infused with human breast milk.

“Isn’t it really disgusting for someone to drink someone else’s breast milk, let alone a strange woman’s?” someone asked.

“This is a joke, right?” another person asked.

Word of the new ingredient at Coffee Smile reached local authorities, who promised to investigate and get the Rospotrebnadzor involved. A local deputy even started a poll, asking people if they were interested in trying coffee drinks infused with breast milk. Interestingly, 46% of respondents answered ‘never’, while 23% reported that they were ready to give it a try.

The Coffee Smile controversy became national news in Russia, but just when the intervention of the Rospotrebnadzor became inevitable due to the sheer scale of the scandal, Maxim Kobelev came out and assured everyone that he never intended to use breast milk as an ingredient. He just happened to be looking for a cheap and effective way of promoting his business, and the appearance of a young breastfeeding mother at a company meeting gave him the idea he had been looking for.

At first, they just planned the poster campaign, but after they went viral on social media, Kobelev decided to invest in a realistic promotional video to really sell the absurd idea. He never imagined that his marketing hoax would sell so well, but once it reached a national audience, he was happy to ride the wave.


“In fact, we did not prepare or sell coffee with breast milk,” Kobelev said in a press release. “When the news was buzzing, people began to come in and ask in all seriousness for coffee with breast milk. We explained that we do not sell it. There were many of my friends who wanted to try this coffee. For them, I prepared a drink with a mixture of goat and almond milk. The taste is very similar – I know this because, as the father of two children, I also tasted the real thing.”

“Using breast milk to make coffee is illegal, which is why we didn’t do it,” the Perm entrepreneur added, in an attempt to make sure the Rospotrebnadzor didn’t come knocking.