Hungarian coffee

The actual national drink of Hungary is coffee – a strong mocha with a high level of caffeine, a kind of Italian espresso, which is called kávé, presszókávé, or fekete (strong black coffee). Without doubt it was the Turkish conquerors who brought coffee to Europe. According to reliable sources, the first delivery reached Buda in 1579, addressed to a Turkish merchant by the name of Behrám. Initially the Hungarians called the drink fekete leves (black soup).

Hungarian coffeThe term kávé appears for the first time in the mid 17th century, in an epic by Miklós Zrínyi (1620-64). Be that as it may, the Hungarians still were not used to the taste of coffee, even after 150 years of  Turkish domination, because it frequently brought with it unpleasant side effects. In accordance with Oriental custom, the Turks would not discuss money matters at table, or indeed any unpleasant matter. At the end of the meal, however, when coffee was served, they had no compunction about simultaneously producing the list of taxes to be collected. When faced with trouble, Hungarians even today say, “The black soup (i.e. the worst) is yet to come.”

Hungarian coffeIn any case, before World War II only middle-class families could afford coffee. Today, coffee is the essential daily drink in Hungary. It is usually prepared in espresso machines, but the use of filter machines is on the increase. Coffee is drunk very strong, “neat” or heavily sweetened, and sometimes diluted with milk or cream.