• Stefan Israel

Kaffeeklatsch

Kaffeeklatsch, a very gemütlich, cozy gathering. It translates as ‘coffee chit-chat’ (pronounced so)

You may even know it by the loanword klatsch. People gather, most often women, to catch up over a cuppa.


a Dutch ad “Look here, how already in our ancestor’s time, they paid homage to van Nelle’s coffee. It became renowned far and wide for its quality.” The Dutch are more likely to call such circles a theekransje 'tea circle', but you might also see koffiekransje or, in previous times, a naaikransje 'a sewing circle'. Sewing circles may have faded away, but a social Kaffeeklatsch remains a popular pastime.

an etching of kaffeeklatsch, courtesy of wikpedia

Klatsch is, by itself, a smacking sound, like a wet cloth against the wall or clapping. Or lips smacking together over coffee and making jaw-music. Chit-chat. Add Kaffee / coffee, and it’s a coffee social. Drop the word Kaffee, and Klatsch by itself can mean that coffee gathering, or even just the gossip that goes on there. Kaffeeklatsch is not, perhaps, as regular as a Brit’s tea time; it's for friends to get together and catch up. It brings people together for Kaffee und Kuchen, coffee and cake. I’ve eaten so much cake in German Kaffeeklatschten. We can thank Vienna for the invention of coffee cake in the mid-1700's.

By the 1600’s, as the coffee craze began, the gents might repair to their coffee houses and coffee salons, particularly in central Europe; fine ladies would retire to a Damenkranz, a Ladies’ Wreath or Circle. As the price of coffee came down, the drink democratized, and the custom spread far and wide.


Other words for it include:

Kaffeestündchen ‘a lil coffee hour’

Kaffeekränzchen ‘a lil coffee circle’

Plauderstündchen ‘a lil hour of chatting’


Men or women or all together, it was altogether about the coffee (and they wouldn’t say no to snacks) and the talking.


And as long as you're gathered for Kaffeeklatsch, you might play this card game, 'the Jolly Kaffeeklatsch, a merry question and answer game for grown-ups'- two sets of cards would be dealt out, one of impertinent questions, and one of impertinent answers, for each person to mix and match. The cover shows clothing of perhaps the 1840's, but was printed around 1900. Fun and coffee never go out of style.

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