In 1683, the Turks besieged Vienna. Polish immigrant Franz Kolschitzky (Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki), who had eastern appearance, boldly crossed the front line, carrying messages from the army to the city and back. Thanks to his heroism, the Turkish troops were defeated and forced to retreat, abandoning their exotic property.
Among the abandoned items were bags with green coffee beans, which were obtained by Kolschitzky. In recognition of the Pole’s merits before the city, the Viennese authorities awarded him a house and allowed him to start the first coffee shop in the country.
There are several versions of this legend. According to one of them, he first sold coffee going from one home to another and only then asked for a building. According to another, the honor of opening the first coffee house did not belong to him but to an unknown Armenian.
Howbeit, coffee has firmly established itself in Vienna. Urban coffee houses not only served as institutions where it was nice to have a cup of coffee but embodied the style of life that developed in the Austrian capital as well.
They served excellent quality drinks (legends claim that there were 28 of its varieties) and visitors were provided with numerous newspapers and magazines. Vienna cafes were equipped with unique wooden newspaper columns, tables with marble covers, and famous chairs with bent backs and legs.
Subsequently, this way of decorating the interior of cafes has become very fashionable and has spread throughout Europe. The inhabitants of Vienna were just as unique as the cafes of this city.
According to one of the witness writers, they professed such a worldview that they did not wish to notice the surrounding reality. Another contemporary claimed that they hated fresh air and physical exercises and did not like the private way of life limited by the walls of their houses.
Many men spent time in their favorite coffee shops, visiting them several times a day in the morning and in the afternoon. They read newspapers quietly and played chess or participated in intelligent conversations in the evening.
Among the visitors of the famous cafes such as “Sperl” and “Griensteidl” were many intellectuals, writers, politicians, and artists. Most of them adhered to radical views.
For example, in the “Griensteidl”, the supporters of women’s emancipation gathered. In Vienna, there were other institutions designed for sellers of fabrics, horses, dentists, politicians, and thieves.
Cafes began to emerge not only in Vienna but also throughout the Austrian possessions of the Habsburgs in Krakow, Prague, Budapest, and other cities. Nevertheless, they were the most popular in the capital.
By 1840, there were over eighty cafes in the country. By the end of the 19th century, there were already more than six hundred coffee houses.
We would like to note that there is something the above text didn’t tell us.
- This “unknown Armenian” was named Johan Diodato (Hovhannes Astvatsatur).
- Polish emigrant Kolschitzky was also an Armenian.