Thursday, February 10, 2011
"Coffee, the finest organic suspension ever devised" - Star Trek: Voyager
GASP!!! How did I not know that a coffee museum exists in Prague? I. Love. Coffee. Coffee runs through my veins. That being said, this place is heavenly to me...
The private Coffee Museum Alchymista is a hidden gem tucked away in a Prague suburb. Hidden in the shadows of Sparta Prague's Letná Stadium, it's a place that I would be sad to not have discovered, for it traces the often surprising history of my dear friend, coffee.
As if I didn't love this place already, the museum's current owner, Kateřina Ebelová, brought some of her own family history and collection of coffee paraphernalia to the exhibit. One of her ancestors was the founder of a company that prepared chicory coffee in the central Czech town of Čáslav at the start of the 1870's before moving on to the production of mustard in the nearby city of Kutná Hora.
And as if the museum itself wasn't enough to make me giggle like a schoolgirl, the award-winning adjoining café Cukrárna Alchymista ("The Alchemist") is a retro sweetshop, tea room and café.
Did you know that the first coffee house in Prague is believed to have been set up by a Turk and in its earliest days in Europe the drink was castigated as an unchristian, devilish drink? Well this is how I feel about it being devilish...
Coffee was also regarded as more of a medicinal treatment than refreshment with coffee being originally sold from pharmacies as a drug. The museum reflects some of that history and you can view beautiful pharmaceutical jars that date from around 1890.
An old coffee roaster
One of the museum's prize exhibits is of a very rare coffee that can only be described as animal-flavored coffee droppings (I must truly love coffee because I need to try this!). In fact, it is the undigested coffee bean rich droppings of the catlike Asian Palm Civet, sometimes known as the Sumatran civet, with the resulting coffee known as Kopi Luwak. Kateřina Ebelová states, "This excrement from the Palm Civet, known as Kopi Luwak, is from Bali where I was last year in the summer. One kilogram of this selected coffee costs about 1,000 dollars and one cup of coffee in a good hotel is between 500 and 600 crowns." That is between $28-$33 for a cup of coffee!
Asian Palm Civet
The museum and café are open daily between 11 am and 6 pm. A garden is open during the summer. For additional information about the museum, please visit www.museumkavy.cz and for information about the café, www.alchymista.cz