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World's Coffee Customs

Posted by Jonathan Osborn on
World's Coffee Customs

Coffee Making in Europe

In Europe, the coffee drink was first sold by lemonade venders. In Florence those who sold coffee, chocolate, and other beverages were not called caffetiéri (coffee sellers) but limonáji (lemonade venders). Pascal's first Paris coffee shop served other drinks as well as coffee; and Procope's café began as a lemonade shop. It was only when coffee, which was an afterthought, began to lead the other beverages, that he gave the name café to his whole refreshment place.

Today, nearly every country in Europe can supply the two extremes of coffee making. In Paris and Vienna, one may find it brewed and served in its highest perfection; but here too it is frequently found as badly done as in England, and that is saying a good deal. The principal difficulty seems to be in the chicory flavor, for which long years of use has cultivated a taste, with most people. Now coffee-and-chicory is not at all a bad drink; indeed the author confesses to have developed a certain liking for it after a time in France—but it is not coffee. In Europe, chicory is not regarded as an adulterant—it is an addition, or modifier, if you please. And so many people have acquired a coffee-and-chicory taste, that it is doubtful if they would appreciate a real cup of coffee should[Pg 671] they ever meet it. This, of course, is a generalization; and like all generalizations, is dangerous, for it ispossible to obtain good coffee, properly made, in any European country, even England, in the homes of the people, but seldom in the hotels or restaurants.


Coffee is made in Austria after the French style, usually by the drip method or in the pumping percolator device, commonly called the Vienna coffee machine. The restaurants employ a large-size urn fitted with a combination metal sieve and cloth sack. After the ground coffee has infused for about six minutes, a screw device raises the metal sieve, the pressure forcing the liquid through the cloth sack containing the ground coffee.

Vienna cafés are famous, but the World War has dimmed their glory. It used to be said that their equal could not be found for general excellence and moderate prices. From half-past eight to ten in the morning, large numbers of people were wont to breakfast in them on a cup of coffee or tea, with a roll and butter. Mélangé is with milk; "brown" coffee is darker, and a schwarzer is without milk. In all the cafés the visitor may obtain coffee, tea, liqueurs, ices, bottled beer, ham, eggs, etc. The Café Schrangl in the Graben is typical. Then there are the dairies, with coffee, a unique institution. In the Prater (public park) there are many interesting cafés.

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