Category: News

Starbucks Versus Coffee House

14 Nov 20
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It starts like a fairy tale. Once, there was a girl. She was staying in New York for some time, which she considered a great privilege. One day it was raining cats and dogs, so the girl was looking for a shelter. It took her a long time to find one, but then she saw the sign “Starbucks”. Well, this girl was me. On that day I was looking for a shelter as well as a cozy place to relax – in other words, I was searching for a typical coffee house like the ones I frequently go to when I am in Vienna.

The myth of the coffee house is very typical of Vienna – in this town you associate coffee houses with coziness, people reading newspapers and waiters who look like remnants of the time when Austria was still a monarchy. If you go to one of the many coffee houses in Vienna, you truly feel as if you have stepped back in time: You are surrounded by red plush, very high windows and breathtaking chandeliers. You can spend hours at this place, reading different types of newspapers and relishing one of nearly 20 different types of coffee. You may order “Gebaeck” (which means pastry) – for example the Wiener Kipferl (a Viennese version of the French croissant), the “Kaisersemmerl” (emperor roll) or even the Wiener Sachertorte (a kind of chocolate cake usually served with whipped cream) – the recipe is, like that of Coca-Cola, a well-kept national secret. Anyway, tasting these specialities, you feel like in heaven.

So far the myth. Do these traditions still exist? Is it still possible to meet a waiter who politely opens the door for you and casts a spell on women’s hearts by kissing their hands? Of course waiters in tailcoats still exist, but only for the countless tourists. Starbucks is in many ways different from the typical Viennese coffee house, but this is not always negative. At Starbucks in New York you can find people from all classes, a well-paid manager as well as a poor homeless woman. The clientele is nearly the same in Vienna (apart from the homeless woman – you won’t find her in an Austrian coffee house). There is one question I always ask myself: Why does the waiter treat the old man much better than me and my colleagues from university? Do we look like bilkers? Well, Maybe so, because the old man is served immediately, while we only get a very disparaging glance from the waiter. You can see it in his expression that he would rather be at home, sitting in front of the TV and drinking beer than serving people.

Another sacrilege comes to mind: I remember sitting next to a man at Starbucks who was having a very loud conversation with his girlfriend. In Viennese coffee houses it is considered impolite to speak in a loud voice. If a group of people have some fun and burst out laughing, it could very well happen that some people look at you indignantly, others may shake their heads and it might also happen that the waiter rather rudely admonishes you or even asks you to leave. Loud laughter apparently disturbs the holy silence reigning in the Viennese Coffee house. The relaxed atmosphere, the coziness which is often mentioned in connection with Viennese coffee houses, has given way to hurry and everyday stress. Today people rarely take the time to go to a coffee house. If they go, the coffee and the cake has to be served within 3 minutes, otherwise something else comes in between – the typically Viennese Grant (grief, anger). And so they are assembled – the angry waiter and the angry customer, feeling aggrieved, hurt and disappointed.

If you take a close look at the reason why people go to coffee houses, you can find another typical trait of Viennese people. Guests are not invited to one’s own apartment, but taken to the coffee house. That’s the only way to avoid guests getting an insight into one’s private life and to prevent them from criticizing and gossiping about one’s pictures, furniture, etc. People don’t like showing the things they have obtained through hard work. That’s the way the Viennese seem to think.

The phenomenon of “sitting in a coffee house and reading a newspaper for hours”, isn’t entirely accurate either. The paying customer is disturbed every 10 minutes by a rather impolite “Would you like another coffee” or “another Sachertorte for you?” while reading the newspaper. And if we are honest, our coffee houses are slowly becoming “Americanized”. Beautiful old coffee houses very often have to give way to new stand-up coffee places.

So I am sitting in rainy New York and ruminatimg on the good old coffee houses in Vienna. And while the rain is beating down on the windows of Starbucks and all the people outside are running by under their umbrellas, I say to myself: “You can criticise the myth of the Viennese coffee houses, but we all love to go there. Perhaps it’s because of the strange atmosphere you find there”. I take the first sip from my coffee and think:

“Besides, our coffee is much better” – but this could of course be plain patriotism, another typical characteristic of a typical Austrian. I say goodbye and go outside into the rain. A paper cup with tasteless odd coffee stays behind.


There are many stories about the creation of the Viennese coffee house, in which historical material is mixed with legend. Georg Franz Kolschitzky plays an important role: a long time ago he was mentioned as the first the person who opened a coffee house in Vienna. He lived in Vienna in 1683, the time of the Turkish siege. It is reported that he and his servant could escape through the siege to hand letters from the prisoners over to the Duke of Lothringen. The duke promised to set the prisoners free by sending 70.000 soldiers to their aud, and that is how the prisoners returned to Vienna. As a reward for his courage, Kolschitzky was given some of the bags of coffee beans found in the Turkish camp. The first coffee house was founded with these bags of coffee beans – so the story goes. But in reality, in 1668 merchants were already trading coffee, so it must have been introduced to Vienna 15 years before the siege by the Turks’. The first owner of a coffee house is said to have been of Greek origin.

The importance of the coffee houses in the 17th and the 18th century:

The first coffee houses were founded in the 17th century. Their development went along with another innovation – at the beginning of the 18th century the first periodical newspapers were created (for example the “Posttaegliche Mercurius”, “Corriere Ordinario”, “Wienerische Diarium” – the last one was renamed into “Wiener Zeitung” and is today the oldest newspaper in the world). These newspapers appeared twice a week, one could either have a subscription or read it in a coffee house. Reading the newspapers was not allowed on Sundays, so that coffee houses were closed. From that moment on, the coffee house has been a place for the privileged. It was the only place where people onefreedom, the “freedom of the coffee houses”. It was the only place where you could even criticize the rule of the Austrian emperor. One could find uncensored, so called “Wrong Newspapers”.. In the coffee house “Kramer” on the first floor one could meet ordinary people, while in the cellar, in the “CAVE” people were allowed to discuss forbidden political topics. The first literary coffee houses were called into being in a time of censorship when people were controlled everywhere in Austria. The coffee houses were the only places where people could enjoy limited freedom of speech, especially where politics were concerned.

Small coffee house guide


opened in 1847, meeting point of literary men such as Hermann Bar, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Krauss, Hugo von Hofmannsthal or composers such as Hugo Wolf or Arnold Schoenberg; birth place of Viennese literature. People could live out their notions of decadence; pulled down in 1897; reopened in 1990, the old atmosphere has been replaced by a modernised version.


After the closing down of Griensteidl the favourite haunt of artists (Loos, Friedel, Alfred Polgar, Karl Kraus, Altenberger); place for philosophic and literary discussion, now pretty different – high costs for renovation, but the arched room where many artists had “their tables” isn’t accessible to the public. nowadays it is frequented by tourists, bank employees, shop assistants, …


Hidden between old antique shops, it reminds one of the 17/18th centuries, the same furniture, a little bit dusty and antiquated walls, the waiters are still relics of the past centuries, there are a lot of newspapers, including foreign ones (for example The Herald Tribune, The Guardian, The Times, …)


In the early 1950ies, meeting point of many intellectual painters, HC Artmann, Konrad Bayer,… all spent their nights at Hawelka, the furniture is still very old, the plush is scabby, posters on the walls.


Expensive, renovated in 1980, a typical “Ringstrassencafe”, very artistic wood panelling, guests have their own niche, very high backrests, small adjoining rooms where press conferences are held, regular customers were: Julius Raab, Paul Hoerbiger, Oskar Werner, Max Reinhardt, Oskar Kokoschka, …


The oldest coffee house, Mozart and Beethoven gave concerts here, very quiet place with carpets on the floor, it’s like a living room with glass cupboards for the china, and of course all the furniture is covered with plush…

A brief history of coffee

14 Nov 20
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600 Coffee makes its migration from Ethiopia to Arabia
1000 The philosopher Avicenna first describes the medicinal qualities of coffee, which he refers to as bunchum
c.1300 Islamic monks brew qawha, a brew of hot water and roasted coffee beans
1470-1500 Coffee use spreads to Mecca and Medina
1517 Sultan Selim I introduces coffee to Constantinople after conquering Egypt
1554 Constantinople’s first coffee houses open
1570-1580 Coffee houses in Constantinople ordered closed by religious authorities
1600 Baba Budan, a Moslem pilgrim, introduces coffee to southern India
1616 Coffee is brought from Mocha to Holland
1645 The first coffee house opens in Venice
1650 The first coffee house opens in England (at Oxford)
1658 The Dutch begin cultivating coffee in Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
1668 Coffee is introduced to North America
1669 Coffee catches on in Paris when a Turkish ambassador spend a year at the court of Louis XIV
1670 Coffee is introduced to Germany
1674 The Women’s Petition Against Coffee is introduced in London
1675 King Charles II orders all London coffee houses closed, calling them places of sedition
1679 Marseilles’ physicians try to discredit coffee, claiming it is harmful to health
The first coffee house in Germany opens in Hamburg
1689 The first enduring Parisian cafe, Cafe de Procope, opens
1696 The King’s Arms, New York’s first coffee house, opens
1706 The first samples of coffee grown in Java are brought back to Amsterdam
1714 A coffee plant, raised from a seed of the Java samples, is presented by the Dutch to Louis XIV and maintained in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris
1720 The still-enduring Caffe Florian opens in Florence
1723 Gabriel de Clieu brings a coffee seedling from France to Martinique
1727 Francisco de Mello Palheta brings seeds and plants from French Guiana to Brazil
1730 The English bring coffee cultivation to Brazil
1732 Bach composes The Coffee Cantata, parodying the German panaroia over coffee’s growing popularity
1777 Prussia’s Frederick the Great issues a manifesto denouncing coffee in favour of the national drink, beer
1809 The first coffee imported from Brazil arrives in Salem, Mass.
1869 Coffee leaf rust appears in Ceylon. Within 10 years the disease destroys most of the plantations in India, Ceylon and other parts of Asia
1873 The first successful national brand of packaged roast ground coffee, Ariosa, is marketed by John Arbuckle
1882 The New York Coffee Exchange commences business
1904 The modern espresso machine is invented by Fernando Illy
1906 Brazil withholds some coffee from the market in an attempt to boost global prices
1910 German decaffeinated coffee is introduced to the U.S. by Merck & Co., under the name Dekafa
1911 American coffee roasters organize into a national association, the precursor to the National Coffee Association
1928 The Colomian Coffee Federation is established
1938 Nestle technicians in Brazil invent Nescafe, the first commercially successful instant coffee
1941-1945 U.S. troops bring instant coffee to a global audience
1959 Juan Valdez becomes the face of Colombian coffee
1962 Peak in American per-capita coffee consumption — more than three cups a day
1964 First Tim Horton’s opens in Hamilton, Ont.
1971 First Starbucks opens in Seatlle
1973 First fair-trade coffee is imported to Europe from Guatemala
1975 Global coffee prices rise dramatically after Brazil suffers a severe frost
Second Cup makes its debut in Canada
1989 International Coffee Agreement collapses as world prices drop to an historic low
early 1990s Specialty coffee catches on in the U.S.
mid 1990s Organic coffee becomes the fastest growing segment of the specialty coffee industry
1997 Tim Horton’s introduces first specialty coffees, English Toffee and french Vanilla flavoured cappuccinos
1998 Starbucks approaches 2,000 U.S. outlets, with as many planned for Asia and Europe


Coffee is practically a health food: Myth or fact?

14 Nov 20
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Myth or fact? Coffee is good for you.

If you chose fact, you’re right. New studies this week add to dozens more reporting the health benefits of coffee, including protection from type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver diseaseprostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, computer back pain and more.

But if you chose myth, you’d also be right. There are times when coffee is bad for you, and it depends on your genetics, your age and even how you make your coffee.

Good to the last drop

Coffee lovers rejoice! There are more studies than ever encouraging you to sip for your good health.

A huge study of more than 25,000 coffee drinkers in South Korea shows that moderate daily consumption — that’s three to five cups a day — is associated with a decreased risk for coronary artery calcium. CAC is a great predictor of future heart disease and hasn’t been studied much in the past.

Four cups of coffee a day was also recently found to moderately reduce one’s risk for melanoma, a highly dangerous skin cancer. It has to be leaded, though; in the study decaffeinated coffee didn’t provide any protection. The study supports a previous finding of a link between coffee and a reduced risk for basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.

Another recent study looked at coffee consumption and multiple sclerosis. It found high coffee intake — that’s four to six cups a day — reduced the risk of getting MS. So did drinking a lot of coffee over five to 10 years. Researchers now want to study coffee’s impact on relapses and long-term disability in MS.

Add this to the existing research on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and investigators now believe coffee could be neuroprotective, meaning that it is possible the drink is suppressing the production of inflammatory markers in the brain. And it may be more than the caffeine in coffee that’s responsible. Researchers are starting to look at other compounds in coffee that may help as well.

Before you run off to your favorite coffee spot for a double mocha latte, note one thing about these studies.

Most research defines a “cup” of coffee at 5 to 8 ounces, about a 100mg of caffeine, and black or maybe with a bit of cream or sugar. It is not one of those 24-ounce monsters topped with caramel and whipped cream.

Chock full o’ studies

Coffee has been studied a lot, and not just recently.

The Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986, and the Nurses’ Health Study, which started in 1976, have been following coffee consumption habits of healthy men and women for decades.

“We did not find any relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of death from any cause, death from cancer, or death from cardiovascular disease. Even people who drank up to six cups of coffee per day were at no higher risk of death,” writes Dr. Rob van Dam of Harvard’s School of Health.

So why was coffee given a bad rap for so long?

Earlier studies didn’t always factor out serious health behaviors that used to go along with coffee, such as smoking and a lack of physical activity. Today’s coffee drinker doesn’t necessarily fit that mold and researchers are more likely to screen for those behaviors in their results.

Make mine a tea

While the health benefits of coffee keep rolling in, the complete story isn’t so rosy. In some studies, very high consumption — six or more cups a day — reduced the benefits.

Some populations can find coffee consumption potentially harmful. People with sleep issues or uncontrolled diabetes may need to ask their doctors before adding caffeine to their diets. There’s also a concern about caffeine use among youths.

And there’s a genetic mutation many of us have that can affect how fast our bodies metabolize caffeine. The gene is called CYP1A2 — if you have the slow version, it would explain why you crawl the walls after only a cup or two or why it might contribute to your high blood pressure.

Women should take particular note. Coffee may increase menopausal hot flashes. And pregnant women might be more likely to miscarry — the jury is still out — but caffeine does reach the fetus and might restrict growth. Doctors recommend only a cup a day during pregnancy.

And interestingly enough, the way you make your coffee could also make a health difference — there’s a compound called cafestol in the oily part of coffee that can increase your bad cholesterol or LDL. It’s caught in the paper filters, so as long as you use those to make your morning joe, you should be fine. But if you’re a lover of French press, Turkish coffee or the boiled coffee popular in Scandinavian countries, you could be putting your health at risk.

For many of us, coffee is a blessing. And as long as you avoid its pitfalls, current science seems to be saying you can continue to enjoy it, guilt free.

Drinking more coffee leads to a longer life, two studies say

14 Nov 20
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Greater consumption of coffee could lead to a longer life, according to two new studies published Monday.

The findings have resurfaced the centuries-old conversation on coffee’s health effects.

One study surveyed more than 520,000 people in 10 European countries, making it the largest study to date on coffee and mortality, and found that drinking more coffee could significantly lower a person’s risk of mortality.

The second study was more novel, as it focused on non-white populations. After surveying over 185,000 African-Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiians, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and whites, the researchers found that coffee increases longevity across various races.

People who drank two to four cups a day had an 18% lower risk of death compared with people who did not drink coffee, according to the study. These findings areconsistent with previous studies that had looked at majority white populations, said Veronica Wendy Setiawan, associate professor of preventative medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, who led the study on nonwhite populations.

“Given these very diverse populations, all these people have different lifestyles. They have very different dietary habits and different susceptibilities — and we still find similar patterns,” Setiawan said.

The new study shows that there is a stronger biological possibility for the relationship between coffee and longevity and found that mortality was inversely related to coffee consumption for heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

The study on European countries revealed an inverse association between coffee and liver disease, suicide in men, cancer in women, digestive diseases and circulatory diseases. Those who drank three or more cups a day had a lower risk for all-cause death than people who did not drink coffee.

Both studies were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“We looked at multiple countries across Europe, where the way the population drinks coffee and prepares coffee is quite different,” said Marc Gunter, reader in cancer epidemiology and prevention at Imperial College’s School of Public Health in the UK, who co-authored the European study.

“The fact that we saw the same relationships in different countries is kind of the implication that its something about coffee rather than its something about the way that coffee is prepared or the way it’s drunk,” he said.

The biological benefits — and caveats

Coffee is a complex mixture of compounds, some of which have been revealed in laboratories to have biological effects, Gunter said.

Studies have shown that certain compounds have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce risk for illnesses like Parkinson’s disease.

In the European study, people who were drinking coffee tended to have lower levels of inflammation, healthier lipid profiles and better glucose control compared with those who weren’t. It is still unclear which particular compounds provide health benefits, but Gunter said he would be interested in exploring this further.

Both studies separated smokers from nonsmokers, since smoking is known to reduce lifespan and is linked to various deceases. However, they found that coffee had inverse effects on mortality for smokers too.

“Smoking doesn’t seem to blunt the effects of coffee,” Gunter said. “It didn’t matter whether you smoked or not. There was still a potential beneficial affect of coffee on mortality.”

However, Dr. Alberto Ascherio, professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said people should be wary of this finding.

“Even if it was in some way true, it doesn’t make sense to me, because by smoking, you increase your mortality several-fold. Then, if you reduce it by 10% drinking coffee, give me a break,” said Ascherio, who was not involved in the study.

“I think it’s a dangerous proposition because it suggests that a smoker can counteract the effects of smoking by drinking coffee, which is borderline insane.”

The studies complement work that has been done on coffee and mortality, he said, and it has been reasonably documented that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of death.

With all observations from previous studies, however, it’s difficult to exclude the possibility that coffee drinkers are just healthier to begin with, Gunter said.

People who avoid coffee, particularly in places like the US and Europe where drinking the beverage is very common, may do so because they have health problems. Their higher mortality rate could be a result of them being less healthy to begin with.

“I think that the solid conclusion is that if you’re a coffee drinker, keep drinking your coffee and be happy,” Ascherio said. And if you’re not? “I think you can go on drinking your tea or water without a problem.”

Meanwhile, Gunter and Setiawan stand a bit more firmly on coffee as a health benefit.

“The takeaway message would be that drinking a couple cups of coffee a day doesn’t do you any harm, and actually, it might be doing you some good,” he said.

“Moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle,” Setiawan said. “This studies and the previous studies suggest that for a majority of people, there’s no long term harm from drinking coffee.”

Coffee’s Health Related History

14 Nov 20

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1800s headline: Coffee will make you go blind – Postum’s ads against coffee were especially negative, claiming coffee was as bad as morphine, cocaine, nicotine or strychnine and could cause blindness.

1916 headline: Coffee stunts your growth

Medical concerns and negative public beliefs about the benefits of coffee rose in the early 1900’s. Good Housekeeping magazine wrote about how coffee stunts growth.

1927 headline: Coffee will give you bad grades, kids

In a 1927 Science Magazine, 80,000 elementary and junior high kids were asked about their coffee drinking habits. Researchers found the “startling” fact that most of them drank more than a cup of coffee a day, which was then compared to scholarship with mostly negative results.

1970’s headline: Coffee is as serious as a heart attack

In 1978, the same year that Baseball Hall of Fame’s Joe DiMaggio began selling Mr. Coffee on TV, a New England Journal of Medicine study found a short-term rise in blood pressure after three cups of coffee.

And an earlier 1973 study found drinking one to five cups of coffee a day increased risk of heart attacks by 60% while drinking six or more cups a day doubled that risk to 120%.

2000 era headline: Time for meta-analysis

Now begins the era of the meta-analysis where researchers look at hundreds of studies and apply scientific principles to find those which do the best job of randomizing and controlling for compounding factors, such as smoking. . The results for coffee? Mostly good.

But first, a couple of negatives: a 2001 study found a 20% increase in the risk of urinary tract cancer risk for coffee drinkers, but not tea drinkers. That finding was repeated in a 2015 meta-analysis. So if this is a risk factor in your family history, you might want to switch to tea.

And a 2010 meta-analysis found a correlation between coffee consumption and lung disease, but the study found it impossible to completely eliminate the confounding effects of smoking.

2007-2013 headlines: Coffee reduces risk of stroke and some cancers

A meta-analysis of 11 studies on the link between stroke risk and coffee consumption between 1966 and 2011, with nearly a half a million participants, found no negative connection. And a 2012 meta-analysis of studies between 2001 and 2011 found four or more cups a day had a preventative effect on your risk for stroke.

This meta-analysis showed drinking two cups of black coffee a day could reduce the risk of liver cancer by 43%. Those findings were replicated in 2013 in two other studies.

As for prostate cancer, this 2011 study followed nearly 59,000 men from 1986 to 2006 and found drinking coffee to be highly associated with lower risk for the lethal form of the disease.

>A similar analysis of studies on heart failure found four cups a day provided the lowest risk for heart failure, and you had to drink a whopping 10 cups a day to get a bad association.

And overall heart disease? A meta-analysis of 36 studies with more than 1.2 million participants found moderate coffee drinking seemed to be associated with a low risk for heart disease; plus, there wasn’t a higher risk among those who drank more than five cups a day.

2015 headline: Coffee is practically a health food

How about coffee’s effects on your overall risk of death? One 2013 analysis of 20 studies, and another which included 17 studies, both of which included more than a million people, found drinking coffee reduced your total mortality risk slightly.

And as a sign of the times, in 2015 the U.S. Department of Agriculture now agrees that “coffee can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle,” especially if you stay within three and five cups a day (a maximum of 400mg of caffeine), and avoid fattening cream and sugar. You can read their analysis of the latest data on everything from diabetes to chronic disease here.

Coffee’s health history: Where do we stand now?

It’s thumbs up today, but the news on coffee has not always been positive. Take a look at the arguments for and against coffee through the centuries.