There’ve been coffee houses in Vienna since the end of the 17th century. The story goes that the beverage reached Vienna in the wake of the second Turkish siege of the city, when the Emperor’s troops, having raised the siege, brought with them the first sacks of coffee beans – as booty. The coffee house culture of the 18th century has left its mark on many European capitals, but none more so than on Vienna, with its incredible variety of coffee brands and mixtures and the cafés or ‘houses’ where these are served – for generations now, the centres of artistic and cultural life. It would be sad if the modern ‘coffee to go’ trend were to bring this tradition to an end.
Fifty years ago ‘Josefine’ – a simple, unfussy coffee service made by Lilien Porzellan – was the first choice of nearly all the Vienna coffee houses, and indeed was probably brand leader in the whole of Austria. It’s still made today to the same high standards, and with the same name, in Carlsbad. ‘Josefine’ retains its traditional features, including the colour brown – the only tiny differences being that today the glaze is sprayed on (rather than dipped), and the cup handles and coffee pot lids have a slightly different shape.
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