More than four hundred years ago, an enterprising soldier from the Polish-Habsburg army by the name of Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, opened the first coffee house in Vienna. As with all truly significant historic events, the momentous launch of “Coffee Culture” is shrouded in myth and legend. 

One story has it that following the rout of the Turkish Army from Vienna in 1683, the grateful Polish King Jan III Sobieski granted Kulczycki the sacks of coffee beans left by the fleeing Turks to make of them what he may. Another legend tells a slightly different tale, namely that since Kulczycki had previously worked as a translator for the Austrian Oriental Company (Orientalische Handelskompagnie), he knew only too well the value of the coffee beans and he had TRICKED his superiors into giving them to him. 

Whatever the truth may be, Kulczycki opened his first coffee house in Vienna at Schlossergassl near the cathedral, calling it the Hof zur Blauen Flasche (‘House under the Blue Bottle’). 

Kulczycki was a tireless entrepreneur, and very clever at marketing. Among his innovations was a colour-coded menu - showing the different blends of coffee - adding milk and sugar and even liqueur to his blends and finally, as owner and head barista, Kulczycki would serve his aromatic brew dressed in full Turkish regalia!

The craze for coffee quickly spread throughout central Europe and along with it, a unique “Coffee House” movement began to flourish. In the dark days before “Free WiFi”, the unhurried, congenial atmosphere of the coffee house became a magnate for literati, artists, poets and musician – it was quite simply as the place to see and be seen. 

For this program, recorder and guitar have formed the imaginary “house band” in order to recreate the experience of enjoying a leisurely Sunday afternoon Kaffeeklatsch in Vienna ca. 1800.