A talk with Vladislav Mokrov, a co-founder of Coffee&Code project: where developers hang out
In this article we will talk to Vladislav Mokrov, a co-founder of the Coffee&Code community. Coffee&Code is a unique project that connects Russian-speaking mobile app developers across Russia and abroad. Vladislav will tell us more about his project, share details from past meetings hosted by Coffee&Code, and future plans. Enjoy reading!
Hello, Vladislav. Could you tell us a little about yourself? What do you develop, what are your hobbies and what is your role in Coffee&Code?
Hi! I am currently an iOS developer at the Dnevnik.ru company. I develop school e-diary applications.
I was born in Beslan, North Ossetia. After school I went to university in St. Petersburg and then I stayed there after graduation.
Outside of work, I solve coding practice challenges, study English and work on development of Coffee&Code, an international community of mobile developers. I also enjoy taking long walks, swimming and camping.
The podcast topics are exciting. You seemed to be doing it pretty well. Why did you stop pursuing this project?
For now, the podcast project is on hiatus. We have a few more recorded podcasts, but they are waiting to be released. A video podcast requires a great deal of time and money. It’s easier with audio versions, but it still requires time. Right now, I’m short of it.
Uzbekistan and the local community of developers
You live in Tashkent now, right? Have you already met the local community of developers?
Yes, I do. My wife and I moved to Tashkent in January. I started organising Coffee&Code meetings there straight away. I was surprised to see that eight people attended the first meeting in Tashkent. Thanks to the IT chat forums in Tashkent for posting the meeting announcements there.
At every meeting I am surprised that so many interesting people come. The first time the winners of the international competitive programming championship in Uzbekistan came to us. We already have regular participants. For example, there is a guy who had a summer internship at Facebook in London. He told us about his job interview at MAANG. There is an iOS developer who works on the “Marusya” voice assistant at VK.
Guys who work in local companies also come and share their experience of the local developer job market. At one of the last meetings, a girl from an American fintech company told us about their work culture, and it was very exciting to listen to her. There was a guy who was working in South Korea, but was originally from Tashkent. He talked about the peculiarities of South Korea and the specifics of the local labour market.
Uzbekistan is a great country! Kind and sympathetic people live here. They always have something to share, surprise and amaze their guests. I have already taken a hike up to the Tawaksai waterfall. The nature here is truly amazing! I’m going to visit Bukhara and Samarkand, and consider visiting the Nukus Museum of Art.
Why do you think all these people were drawn to Tashkent?
Someone has relatives living here. Someone moved to this country and realised that they had not chosen wrong. Someone was going to visit all the CIS countries, but they enjoyed Uzbekistan the most and stayed here.
Let’s tell the readers more about the Coffee&Code project. What does your team do, what is the project’s primary aim at the moment?
Coffee&Code is an international community of mobile developers that organise online and offline events to share knowledge and experience.
We host free meetings for developers of different experience across various towns and cities, where everyone can network with like-minded people. If someone wants to organise meetings in a city, they just contact the admin in our main chat in Telegram.
We have a podcast where we invite guests from the mobile app development. In the podcast episodes, we answer questions form our listeners, that help them understand some complex issues. Previously, we conducted live broadcasts in the Telegram channel and attached recordings for people who missed them.
But one day Sasha Pozdnikin (a novice iOS developer) offered to host a podcast, and it turned into a separate podcast for streaming platforms. Enthusiastic guys like Sasha are the backbone of such ventures.
We strive to create a community that could support developers and help them to grow professionally.
History of the project and its ideas
Is there a history of creating the community?
When I was looking for my first job, I was offered to support a legacy project. I went to Brother Anthony’s chat room (a Telegram channel to help novice developers) to ask for advice on whether to get involved in this job. Sergey Gnatyuk (now an iOS developer at Ozon Tech) saw my message there. He was also a student at that time. And he asked me to meet him and talk about the iOS app development stuff and studies.
At the meeting Sergey suggested getting together on Saturdays for a cup of coffee and discussing the iOS development, and to invite others for such meetings via the chats for developers. Thus, eight people gathered for the first meeting. The following meetings gathered developers who were already working. They were talking to us about their journey to the iOS development.
The number of participants quickly increased and we were already short of space in a coffee shop. A year later, the number of participants has become about 30–50 on average. We held regular meetings at 11 am on Saturday at Coffee3 on Petrogradka. And now we have a lot of cities around the world and events supported by major Russian companies like Ozon, Alfa, VK.
All this is thanks to our close-knit team, that consists of 5 administrators and more than 50 organisers from different cities. A couple of months after the project launch, Anya Nikiforova joined us. She gave the team some discipline and rationality. Then there was Sasha Bannikov, he offered to organise a joint event in partnership with VK. And last summer Ivan Krim joined us, he is our designer and leads the iOS Tech Talks project. We divide our responsibilities equally. Everyone has their own tasks for the quarter ahead.
One day Android developers came to us and suggested organising meetings for them too. Thus, we became a community of mobile developers. In some cities there are meetings without platform divisions, we just call them “Mobile”.
But sometimes guys from other software development fields join our meetings. This is widespread in the cities where developers have moved last year.
How does the Coffee&Code project benefit you?
I enjoy learning from guys who have more expertise, and helping those who are just starting their journey in Mobile Development. It’s such a learning cycle. As you watch the guys around you are growing up, you try to keep up too.
In St. Petersburg, I devoted Saturday to the community, especially in the summertime. We had lunch at the meetings and then I gave tours to the guys. We were walking different routes, that I had planned in advance. These were the courtyards of the Petrograd side, the house of the Emir of Bukhara and “Kamchatka” — the Museum of Victor Tsoi, the notable courtyards on the Vasilievsky island and sights of St. Petersburg presented in the films of Alexei Balabanov, the mansion of the Nobel family and the living quarters the Nobles constructed for the workers of their factory (yes, it’s the same family of the Nobel Prize founder) on the Vyborg side and many other places. Developers coming to stay in St. Petersburg from other cities were usually surprised by my tours. Once a guy from Samara was so impressed by both our meeting and exciting tour — could this really be for free?
Since the summer of 2022, we have a group of people in St. Petersburg who enjoy hiking. We used to go camping in Karelia and walk to Lake Ladoga or some other lakes. We camped and spent nights there. There were 30 people on the last trip. Some guys also organised activities like kayaking or sailing. Now these guys organise trips along the eco-trails of the Leningrad region.
Let’s talk about the idea of the project. Why would someone go to such a meeting? There are meetups, hackathons, webinars, workshops, is there anything that sets Coffee&Code apart from them?
Everyone can come to a meeting and ask for a code review or prepare for a job interview. We also have walk-in interviews, we usually do not announce them in advance. You can also ask a person of a higher grade any questions you may have.
For example, there is a guy in Tashkent. He came to a meeting, he is a team leader and has gaps in certain developer skills. He began to discuss them with the Head of Mobile of a large Russian company, who had faced similar problems before.
There are also guys who have moved to a big city and have no friends or connections there. They meet new friends here — there are plenty of such examples.
Or just if somebody gets tired of working remotely at home and wants to unwind among like-minded people, welcome here!
The author’s comment:
For those of you looking to develop your soft skills and attend more programming meetings, I’ve got news for you! The PVS-Studio team recently has launched an event aggregator, that brings all the events for developers in one place. The purpose of the new section is to make it easier for developers to find a conference or meetup they are interested in. Choose your stack, country and type of event (a meetup, hackathon, expo or conference). The section is updated every week! Follow this link to drill down further.
Locations of meetings and topics discussed most
What cities host Coffee&Code meetings and how do I join?
1. Check out our Telegram Channel
2. Search for your city and just come =)
3. If your city is out of the list, but you would like to organize a meeting by yourself, then contact the admin via Telegram — @coffeecode_admin. They will tell you how to organise a meeting in your city.
Our highest score was 29 meetings in different cities in a single weekend: Moscow, Minsk, London, Almaty, St Petersburg, Baku, Tbilisi, Kazan, Tashkent, Yerevan, Astana, Bali, Bangkok, Batumi, Istanbul, Belgrade, Podgorica, Vilnius, Bishkek, Dubai, Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Rostov-on-Don, Antalya, Porto and many others.
What do people prefer to discuss at meetings? Any favourite topics?
We like discussing the technical background of various projects, industry news, all sorts of devices and their features, and debriefing interview questions. Or we chat about life if we’re fed up with programming.
What level is Coffee&Code aimed at? Should beginners come? Or, vice versa, experts?
Initially, the meetings were organized for newcomers by newcomers. But later, mid-level and senior developers joined us too. And newcomers keep coming to us over and over again for advice on how to pursue career or how to grow.
People from any programming field will discover something to enjoy at our meetings
Are there any real-life examples of how such meetings get people together?
Once Ozon and Coffee&Code had a joint meetup in Almaty. A girl who just starts to learn iOS development came to the meeting. She asked guys from Ozon if they could get her an internship. I should point out that Ozon has not previously dealt with interns at all. Head of Mobile, who also was at the meetup, gave that girl a chance.
And now she’s an intern at Ozon. Oh, really? Yes, she is! Everyone was shocked.
You have the Coffee&Code podcast. Tell us a little more about it for those who haven’t heard it before. What does it take to be invited to the podcast?
Interviews with mobile developers are coming out now. So far, we have three episodes and the fourth one is upcoming.
The first episode featured a mobile developer from Ozon Tech. We talked about the dev community, the journey of the novice developer, considering current circumstances, and a little bit of everything.
In the second episode, we talked with Vasily Usov, a mobile developer from VK and author of books on Mobile Development.
In the third episode, we met Dmitry Konstantinov, an experienced iOS engineer and Tech Lead at Zen, the Russian personal recommendations service.
The fourth one will feature Anastasia Ulitina, an iOS developer from Amazon Prime Video. We had a talk about how she got her current job and about her life in London.
Our Telegram channel has an interesting episode with Mikhail Rubanov, Head of Mobile from the Dodo company. The episode discusses how persons with disabilities use apps, nuances of developing apps for them, and how to adapt the apps to the needs of them. In this episode there was a blind iOS developer who told us about how he codes.
There are quite a lot of people interested in participating in the podcast. You can just contact the admin, tell them a little bit about the topics you’d like to cover or discuss on the podcast. The host and admins will consider your participation.
In conclusion, could you share your plans and ideas for further development of the Coffee&Code project? Do you have any ideas of diversifying the topics or expanding the geographical scope of the meetings?
So far, we have plans for one year. We are rebranding Coffee&Code so that the design would be unified for all our departments. Wait for the announcement and the new merch to appear!
We now focus on growing within the CIS countries to become autonomous from the companies. As for the geographical scope of the meetings, we’ll just play it by ear.
We want to organise our own full-fledged meetup without collaborating with companies.
And we are developing the chatbot to automate the internal routine.
Thank you very much for the talk. I hope this article will inspire more developers to join you. And I would also like to express my gratitude to you and your team for the great work. Best wishes for Coffee&Code and your team!