KOLSCHITZKY

The story of the Meinl Coffee Boy begins back in the year 1683 during the Battle of Vienna. The Viennese Hapsburg Empire and the Turkish Ottoman Empire had been fighting for over 300 years. During this pivotal battle, the Ottoman Empire army surrounded the city of Vienna with over 150,000 men in their 25,000 tents.

Georg Kolschitzky, a Polish adventurer, dressed as a man from the Turkish army and entered enemy territory.  Most notably, Kolschitzky wore a red fez – a brimless cap with a blue tassel. The army version of the Turkish fez included padding and a metal plate to protect the men from heavy blows. By 1826, the fez was named the official headgear for Turkish men. The fez was a symbol of the modernizing reforms of Sultan Mahmud II.

While in enemy territory, Georg Kolschitzky observed the art of roasting, brewing and drinking coffee for the first time ever. Perhaps over a cup of coffee, he learned of the Turkish army’s plan to sneak attack the city of Vienna while it was peacefully sleeping. Kolschitzky returned to Vienna to warn the city fathers of Vienna about the attack. With this helpful information from Kolschitzky on the size of the army and disposition, Vienna was able to win the battle.

When asked to name his reward Kolschitzky only asked for the items left behind when the Turkish army surrendered. This included their tents, their guns and what the Viennese thought at the time was camel fodder. Little did they know what Kolschistzky was already very aware of - the hundreds of bags of camel fodder were actually coffee beans.

Kolschitzky used these beans to open one of the first coffeehouses in Vienna, the Blue Bottle. The artist Franz Schams captured the image of Kolschitzky celebrating in his coffeehouse, still wearing the red Turkish fez, in an oil on canvas painting.