Many coffee fans know that their favorite drink came to Europe from the East. But not all of them are familiar with the fact that it has been Yuriy Kulchitskiy, a Ukrainian Cossack, who taught Europeans to drink coffee. Kulchitskiy established coffee tradition in Vienna more than three centuries ago. First, Vienna dwellers showed skeptical attitude to authentic Turkish drink, especially considering long-lasting war with Turkey.
People were not inspired by the idea of consuming national product of their enemies. However, Yuriy Kulchitskiy used all his creativity and merchandising talent to change Europeans` minds. Coffee quickly gained popularity all over Europe due to Kulchitskiy`s effective advertising campaign.
Yuriy-Franz Kulchitskiy was a merchant, a warrior, a translator and an adventurer. He was born in 1640 in Kulchitsy village in Lviv oblast`. In young years, Yuriy left his homeland in order to join Zaporozhian Cossack Army. During one of the military expeditions, Yuriy was captured by Turkish army. However, Kulchitskiy took all the possible advantages from his imprisonment. He has learned language and traditions of Turkmen, including the tradition of consuming coffee. After some time, Yuriy was redeemed by Serbian merchants. He began to work as translator in Belgrade. It should be mentioned that besides Turkish language, Yuriy also spoke Romanian, German, Polish and Hungarian languages. Kulchitskiy saved some money and opened his own trading company in Vienna.
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In the middle of July 1683, the short period of peace in Europe was over. Several thousand strong army of Ottoman Empire laid siege upon the capital of Austria. In this hard time, Yuriy offered Vienna dwellers his help. He put on Turkish clothes, left the occupied city together with his assistant and went right to the duke of Lorraine in order to ask for military support. After this, the Cossack returned back to Vienna together with military allies army. When Europeans won victory upon Turkish army, Yuriy was assigned a status of hero. He was given a large sum of money and a house in elite district of Vienna. Yuriy picked up 300 bags of coffee in abandoned Turkish camp as a trophy.
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First, Kulchitskiy walked along Vienna streets with a tray full of coffee jars and offered citizens to try the drink, but Austrians found coffee taste too bitter. Then Kulchitskiy decided to experiment with recipe, filtering coffee grouts and adding sugar, honey and milk. That is how famous coffee a la Vienne was born. Vienna dwellers loved the new taste of the drink offered by Yuriy. Kulchitskiy served his coffee with small croissants, which were made as Ottoman half-moons. Eating such a dessert symbolized victory over Turkmen, so citizens of Vienna enjoyed it very much.
In 1686, Yuriy Kulchitskiy opened the first European coffee house in the building where he lived. This place, which was called “The House under the Blue Glass” («Hof zur Blauen Flasche»), became one of the most popular cafes in the city. The owner, dressed in national Turkish clothes, served drinks himself.
After two hundred years, Vienna dwellers decided to memorialize the great Cossack. On 12 September 1885, in the anniversary of liberation of Vienna from Turkish invasion, a bronze memorial to Yuriy Kulchitskiy was installed on one of the corner buildings on the street named in the honor of the Cossack. Full-length figure of Yuriy in Turkish costume holds a tray with coffee cups in the left hand.
In 2013, monument to Yuriy Kulchitsky was also opened in Lviv.
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