A Great Coffee Museum in….. Prague?

February 14, 2011

The city of Prague, Czech Republic, is known for its culture - many fine museums being part of that classical cultural world. So a coffee museum, which is probably one of the world’s only such museums, just sounds somewhat out of its element here. However, one look at the photos shows a well organized and very attractively designed space which invites any history buff,coffee-lover or foodie in for a delightful exploration of all things coffee history. The museum tells the story of coffee, from its discovery to its phases of acceptance and finally to what we know of coffee culture. Everything one can imagine about coffee, from roasters to decorative containers, from home roasting to commercial roaster, from pharmaceutical use to social enjoyment, can be found here, plus many things we probably couldn’t imagine. For example, did you know that in the Czech Republic, fig and chicory were used as coffee and the grounds were sold as bars? The bars were boiled in water or milk for serving. Because the Czechs haven’t figured much into the history of coffee, you would expect to find such a museum in Italy or Turkey or somewhere more known for coffee. But coffee was brought to the country by a Turk who set up the first coffee house. Its acceptance was a challenge because it was bitter and considered devilish and un-Christian. In fact, the exhibit teaches, early use of coffee was medicinal and the museum illustrates this with the display of three pharmaceutical jars for coffee dated at about 1890. Another fascinating display is that of early advertising for coffee. We think that in our current time we are seeing the lowest and most crass advertising imaginable. But things haven’t changed that much. For example, ads during the First Czech Republic featured figures bearing gifts to the Christ child, but instead of frankincense and myrrh, they bear coffee! Other Biblical figures were employed, as well fairy tales for children. As the author points out, nothing was sacred. The museum sounds like a fascinating place. By the way, they roast coffee and feature a café on the premises. Their website can be visited at www.muzeumkavy.cz in case you won’t be in the area and want to make a virtual visit. Enjoy!



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