KYIV COFFEEWhere to find: 20 Velyka Zhytomyrska Street, on the column which is near City-Zen cafe & bar
The history of drinking coffee in Kyiv began much earlier than you would think. The first mention about the drink dates back to the reign of Volodymyr the Great.
In the Tale of Bygone Years, a history of Kyivan Rus
, we can find a record which proves that the Great Duke consumed this beverage. Coffee was brought to Kyivan Rus by Arab merchants. It may be proved by the similarity between the Arab word 'kahva' and the Ukrainian word 'kava'. However, we can't say that this beverage became popular on the territory of Kyivan Rus since it was not until XVIIth century that thedrink was mentioned again.
At the time when Ukrainian kozak Yurii-Frants Kulchytskyi received 300 sacks of coffee from
Jan III Sobieski as a reward for saving Vienna and opened his café in Vienna, coffee started gaining its popularity in Kyiv. The fact that the officials of Kyiv Magistrate received coffee and sugar as a part of their payment also favored the new trend of drinking coffee.
In the middle of the XIXth century Kyiv confectioneries started serving coffee. Coffee beans were bought overseas but roasted locally at Kyiv factories of "roasted coffee". In the 70s of the XIXth century confectionaries became especially popular. Among the most famous were Zhorzh
, located at the crossroad of Khreshchatyk Street and Prorizna Street, and the confectionary of Bernar Semadeni at 15 Khreshchatyk Street opposite the City Council in the house of Shtifler.
The golden age of coffee consumption in Kyiv falls on the beginning of 20th
century. This is the time when "Kyiv café on the pillars" and "Petit Cafe" became fashionable.
It is interesting to know that the famous confectioner Bernar Semadeni,
for example, was creating advertisements for his café in verse all by himself. And when in 1885 in Khreshchatyk Street they opened the first telephone station, Bernar bought out the very first telephone number for his café. Since then you could reserve a table in the restaurant Semadeni
just dialing 1. It is worth mentioning that the café was situated near Kyiv Stock Exchange. That time the stockbrokers had to pay for visiting the stock exchange. There were a number of private individuals having no money in their pockets but firmly believing that acquiring shares or bonds for a small amount will lead them to a carefree life.
There were also those who wanted to resemble great stock exchange players. Although the gaining was miserly – the activity made a deep impression on the players. They were especially attracted by gaining money from nothing. Such wheeler-dealers were called "stock market dead-heads". Not willing to pay for entering the exchange house they were making their deals right in the street. However when the crowd of "stock market dead-heads" blocked the pavement a district police-inspector immediately drove them off. Therefore negotiators moved to the nearby café run by the Swiss Bernar Semadeni. Quite often they made their calculations with the pencils right on the marble surface of the tables.
Besides, a lot of visitors came to the cafés just to read fresh newspapers and to play chess.
A famousconfectioner Frantsyshek Holombek from Warsaw opened three cafés where they served coffee along with candied fruit or ice-cream. "Kyiv café on the pillars" at 5 Fundukleivska Street (nowadays Bohdana Khmelnytskoho Street) spent as much as 563 rubles on subscription. The above mentioned Bernar Semadeni subscribed for"Independens Belge", "Nord"
, "Gazeta Polska", "Allgemenie Zeitung", "Французькаілюстрація"
and many other newspapers and magazines.
At the beginning of the XXth century the most popular confectionary was the place named Zhorzh located at the crossroad of Khreshchatyk Street and Prorizna Street. It was founded by the native of Prussia - Heorh (Zhorzh) Dortenman. In the café they served the most expensive sorts of coffee – "Java", "Ceylon", "Mocha" – in beautifully patterned porcelain cups. A distinguishing feature of the café was its delicious cakes. Thanks to the cake "Zhorzh" the café became a significant landmark on the map of the city.
Due to the deficiency of the products during 1917 and the shortage of currency used for buying coffee the beverage was slowly disappearing from Kyiv. It returned only at the end of the Soviet Thaw.
Instant coffee, coffee during 1980 Summer Olympics, Maccoffee, coffee with milk, first wave of coffee, second one and at last today – Kyiv coffee – beverage № 1.