Thursday, February 16, 2012

Coffee Tales - 1st Coffeehouse in Austria 1683

The 1st coffeehouse in Austria, opened in Vienna in 1683, using coffee beans left by the quickly retreating Ottoman Turks, after the Battle of Vienna. The officer who received the coffee beans was the hero of the battle, Polish military officer of Ukrainian origin Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki. He opened the coffee house with the spoils of war & helped popularize the custom of adding sugar & milk to the coffee. Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki (Ukrainian: Юрій-Франц Кульчицький) (1640–1694) was a  merchant, spy, diplomat & soldier, & hero of the people of Vienna for his actions at the 1683 Battle of Vienna.

Kulczycki opened his coffee house in Vienna at Schlossergassl near the cathedral. It was named the Hof zur Blauen Flasche (House under the Blue Bottle). Kulczycki helped popularize coffee in Austria, & his café became one of the most popular places in town. Kulczycki served the mortar-ground coffee wearing a Turkish attire, which added to the place's popularity.

Early in the 18th century, a traveler wrote of coffee drinking & the coffee-house idea in Vienna, "The city of Vienna is filled with coffee houses, where the novelists or those who busy themselves with the newspapers delight to meet, to read the gazettes and discuss their contents. Some of these houses have a better reputation than others because such zeitungs-doctors (newspaper doctors—an ironical title) gather there to pass most unhesitating judgment on the weightiest events, and to surpass all others in their opinions concerning political matters and considerations."

Vienna liked the coffee house so well that by 1839, there were 80 of them in the city proper & 50 more in the suburbs. Kolschitzky is honored in Vienna as the patron saint of coffee houses. His followers, united in the guild of coffee makers (kaffee-sieder), even erected a statue in his honor. It still stands as part of the facade of a house where the Kolschitzygasse merges into the Favoritengasse. And in 2009, the Polish Post started circulating a stamp that not only has the image of Kulczycki, but also emits a gentle aroma of coffee.

Until recently, this hero was celebrated in most modern-day Viennese coffeehouses by hanging a picture of Kulczycki in the window. Melange is the typical Viennese coffee, which comes mixed with hot foamed milk & a glass of water.

For more early morning coffee tales, click here.