What is a Kaffeeklatsch? Therapy with laughter and Coffee

Americans missed out on a good thing by not adopting the “Kaffeeklatsch”. Honestly, meeting friends at Starbucks for a sippy cup of coffee on a tiny table just isn’t the same thing. Kaffeeklatsch… friends coming together for coffee… maybe some cake… and good conversation, is such a lovely way to spend a few hours. In Germany, the concept of Kaffeeklatsch goes back hundreds of years. This break from work, time spent with friends and family, is a cultural essential. (And probably saves mountains of money on therapy). Kaffeeklatsch doesn’t have to happen on weekends. It’s perfectly acceptable to meet around the table mid-week in the afternoon… or even mornings.

What is a Kaffeeklatsch?

When I was growing up in California, Sunday was Kaffeeklatsch day. Our family would get together with some other German families that we knew, either in our house, or in their homes. Naturally there would always be coffee and cake. The table would be set with a nice tablecloth, the good dishes, and pretty napkins. Flowers in the center of the table. Each of the ladies (and one of the men) had special cake that they were known for Apfelkuchen, Kirschkuchen, Frankfurter Kranz (in mom’s case, it was her Silesian Poppy seed roll).

Then the moms would sit in one room and talk. Rapid fire German punctuated by LOUD laughter. So fun to hear. The Kaffeeklatsch helped my mother, and all the other German women maintain connection to their culture. (Imagine my surprise when I grew up and learned that American homes didn’t have a special “Kaffeeservice” coffee dishes… ).

coffee klatsch

(some of the core Kaffee-Klatschers… and my Opa who loved coffee too)

In my German-American world, Dads would sit around a table in another room playing cards. Beer and maybe schnapps or cognac would be poured. They would talk, tell jokes, laugh and play. Sometimes they would come outside and play a game of soccer. But they would always come back to the table eventually for coffee and cake. (We kids always stayed out of the way, half listening while we played… and once the adults were served, we could come and get cake too.)

Today the world is far less formal, even in Germany. Kaffeeklatsch doesn’t always mean setting a fancy table… but people still come together for a coffee and conversation.

Why Kaffeeklatsch?

Did you know that Germans drink more coffee per capita than beer or water?  Around 39 GALLONS a year each! And 84% of the population over age 14 drinks coffee… mostly at home with family (and during a Kaffeeklatsch!) Coffee culture in Germany older and stronger than you would imagine, going back hundreds of years. (Read more about German Coffee Culture HERE). But why a Kaffeeklatsch?

The first mention of coffee in Germany comes in the late 1500s, but it wasn’t until the later 1600s that the upper classes “discovered” coffee in the Royal houses in France. By 1680 Coffee Houses popped up in Hamburg, bringing people together over a cup of coffee, and it spread from there to Berlin and across Germany. Cafes weren’t just a place to drink coffee… they were places for discussion…. politics, intellectual ideas etc. But (and this is a big BUT), women weren’t allowed to go to drink coffee in public. Cafes were off limits.

So they drank coffee at home.

Kaffeekränzen, the root of the Kaffeeklatsch, were small get togethers for women in the mornings or afternoon. Women could come together, visit and drink coffee. (And I’d like to think, based on conversations I’ve heard during Kaffeeklatsches, that they talked politics, books, and intellectual topics as well as things like “how to remove stubborn stains from a baby diaper.) The concept of Kaffeeklatsch stuck, becoming an ingrained part of German culture. A way of maintaining connections.

German Coffee

My mother only serves German Coffee in her home. This milder roast tastes less bitter or heavy, meaning you can drink pots of it, and still get through the day without the shakes.

You can Order German Coffee here–

Dallmayer CoffeeDallmayer CoffeeGermanShop24Jacobs KronungJacobs KronungGermanShop24

Don’t forget the Bären Marke Creamer!

Bären Market Coffee milkBären Market Coffee milkGermanShop24

2 thoughts on “What is a Kaffeeklatsch? Therapy with laughter and Coffee

  1. While all born in the US, I am familiar with the term “kaffeeklatsch” from my mother and maternal grandmother (German & Czech). I think it is a wonderful tradition that women should take up in our country. Thank you for the cake recipes to get me started!!

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