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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Viennese Coffee Culture Recreated!

The Ambassador of Austria, H.E. Dr. Heidemaria Gürer and The Ambassador of Chile, H.E. Dr. Maria Teresa de Jesus Infante Caffi.

Photography and text by Catherine Dailey.

Her Excellency Ambassador Dr. Heidemaria Gürer transformed the “salons” of her magnificent residence into an authentic Viennese Coffee House last Friday.  A tribute to  Viennese Coffee Culture, listed as one of Austria’s contributions to UNESCO’s intangible world cultural heritage since 2011, provided a festive occasion to introduce scores of invited guests to centuries old coffee house traditions.  

A Viennese Coffee House at the Residence of Austria.

All of Ambassador Gürer’s guests appreciated her attentiveness to detail in re-creating an authentic Viennese Coffee House on the Koninginnegracht.  Beneath elegant Bohemian crystal chandeliers, classical music performances were given by both a pianist and a cellist throughout the afternoon.  Seated at tables featuring marble tabletops and on authentic bentwood chairs in the style of “Michael Thonet”, guests were offered a selection of famous Viennese patisseries such as mohnstreudel or apfelstreudel (apple strudel), which are typically featured on traditional coffee house menus.

Chilean Ambassador H.E. Ms. María Teresa Infante Caffi and Ambassador María Jesús Alonso Jiménez of Spain were among the many who visited the “Viennese Coffee House” to enjoy Her Excellency’s gracious hospitality.

Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen, the well-known specialist on the Dutch Royal House, etiquette expert, historian, writer, commentator and author of “Hoe hoort het eigenlijk?”

Ambassador Gürer also invited Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen, the well-known specialist on the Dutch Royal House, etiquette expert, historian, writer, commentator and author of “Hoe hoort het eigenlijk?” to give a presentation on Viennese Coffee Culture.

Guests discovered that coffee is always served in a porcelain cup and saucer on a tray together with a small glass of water.  These are essential Viennese coffee culture traditions! Other special features of a Viennese Coffee House are the presence of newspapers – a tradition dating to 1720; professional staff dressed in timeless black and white uniforms; board games such as chess.  Poetry readings and music performances are also often featured. 

Viennese Coffee House at the Austrian Residency in The Hague.

Extended opening hours—often from 7:00 am until 12:00 are also traditions.   One can enjoy an informal inexpensive meal at nearly anytime of the day or night at Viennese Coffee Houses.  When combined, all elements contribute towards creating an inspiring atmosphere which fosters a tradition of free thinking and creativity amongst artists, intellectuals and others.

Van Ditzhuyzen’s also briefly referred to Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) during her presentation. Modern Austrians remember “Sisi” as the “Lady Diana of the 18th Century – one of history’s tragic figures whose life, and death, has inspired countless poems, stories and films.  The empress was even the subject of a recent musical bearing her name – “Sisi.” Even centuries after her death, interest in her life remains strong and today’s visitors to Vienna follow Sisi’s “tourist trail” and visit Habsburg Court landmarks which were part of her life.

When planning a long weekend to visit Vienna, allow time to research and enjoy the city’s coffee house culture. Café CentralCafé LandtmannCafé Sperl and Café Mozart are four well established coffee houses boasting more than a century of tradition.  Visitors to the seat of the “House of Habsburg”, enjoy the historic, UNESCO listed capital city for palaces, parks and museums and experiencing life with the locals by participating in Viennese coffee house culture.

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