Vienna to Paris: How Armenians Brewed Europe’s Coffee Culture

As the aroma of freshly brewed coffee became a staple in European cities, the history of how this beloved beverage became a phenomenon is often untold. Behind the rise of coffee culture in Europe, two enterprising Armenians, Johannes Diodato and Isaak de Luca, stand out as pioneers who brought the unique coffeehouse experience from the East to the West.

In Vienna, a city now synonymous with coffeehouse culture, it was Diodato who laid the groundwork. On a crisp day, January 17, 1685, he was granted the very first permit to establish a coffeehouse, and with it, he brought the rich flavors of the East to the Austrian capital. His enterprise flourished under a royal monopoly granted by Leopold I, allowing him exclusive rights to sell coffee for two decades—a remarkable achievement for the time.

However, Diodato’s success was tinged with turmoil. His extensive trade with the Turks cast a shadow of suspicion upon him, ultimately forcing him to abandon his thriving business and seek refuge in Venice in 1693. His departure led to his wife taking the reins of their coffeehouse, ensuring the business continued to warm the palates and hearts of the Viennese.

Isaak de Luca picked up where Diodato left off. By 1697, he had not only secured the right to conduct business in Vienna but, alongside Andreas Pain and Philip Rudolf Kemberg, he ascended to become the city’s premier coffee merchant.

The influence of Armenians on coffee culture extended beyond Vienna. In Paris, an Armenian by the name of Pascal introduced the novelty of coffee in 1672. His establishment, maison de caova, was a dazzling imitation of a Constantinople coffeehouse, where the enigmatic allure of coffee was served amid the hustle and bustle of Parisian life. Here, ‘le petit noir’ was not just a drink but an experience, served by black slave boys who wove through the crowds, enchanting the public with this novel, sweet, and roasted scent.

Pascal’s legacy continued beyond the borders of France as he later took the coffee experience to London. In a twist of fate, another Armenian, also named Pascal, had already established the city’s first coffeehouse two decades prior, marking a significant moment in the history of British coffee culture.

These Armenian coffee connoisseurs were more than just merchants; they were cultural ambassadors, transporting a piece of their heritage and introducing a social revolution that reshaped the way Europeans socialized. The coffeehouses they established became hubs of intellectual discussion, business transactions, and social interaction.

The story of coffee in Europe is steeped in the endeavors of these Armenian individuals, who, with their pioneering spirit, brewed a new chapter in the continent’s culinary and social history. Today, as we sip our espressos and lattes in the cozy corners of local cafés, we partake in a tradition that has been percolating for centuries, thanks to the vision and resilience of these early coffee innovators.


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