Snapshot: Coffee culture in Budapest, Hungary

 

Forget Starbucks! Once you see the grand, opulent coffee houses here, you’ll crave atmosphere, as much as caffeine, when you stop to enjoy your morning mojo.

A Hungarian woman drinks cappuccino in the New York Café. Built in 1894, and attached to the New York Palace hotel, it was considered the most elegant and popular of the 500 coffee houses that thrived in Budapest at the turn of the century. Once the hang out of creative types, many writers, poets and artists would spend entire days here. Many had their own table. Ink and paper were freely provided, and even food was discounted on the writer’s menu.

Locals also flocked here on weekends to catch up on gossip or socialize, until the Communist era, when many cafes were closed down. Cafes were seen as a center of progressive thought. So leaders shut them down to discourage people from engaging in political conversations and forming underground organizations. After the fall of socialism, the hotel was bought in 2001 by Italian Boscolo Hotels, and both hotel and coffee house were reopened in 2006 after renovations. Today it is frequented by locals and tourists more than writers, but its luxurious look still lures those who like to linger.

 

 

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