August 16, 2013
Should Coffeehouse Culture Be Protected By the Government?

Before the Internet existed as a place to look at cute pictures of other people’s lives, exchange idle chatter, and, occasionally, thoughtfully discuss big ideas, there were coffeehouses. Many scholars see the coffeehouse as the ultimate symbol of the public sphere, particularly in European history — politicians, writers, and men of fashion would meet to gossip, enjoy a drink, and sometimes even foment revolution.

But coffeehouse culture may be under threat. In the 1950s, Vienna suffered a period darkly known as kaffeehaussterben, or coffeehouse death. Luckily for intellectuals and caffeine addicts, the United Nations Economic, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been on the case. Since 2011, the “Viennese coffeehouse” has been on its list of Austria’s protected “intangible cultural heritage.” UNESCO created this designation in 2003 in an effort to preserve significant parts of culture that don’t happen to be buildings or mountains. According to UNESCO’s website, the Viennese coffeehouse is “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill” — at the very least, this has to be the metaphysically interesting entry on the list.
Now, Turkey and Argentina are trying to follow Austria’s example by applying to get UNESCO’s cultural blessing over their coffeehouses.
Read more. [Image: UNESCO]

Should Coffeehouse Culture Be Protected By the Government?

Before the Internet existed as a place to look at cute pictures of other people’s lives, exchange idle chatter, and, occasionally, thoughtfully discuss big ideas, there were coffeehouses. Many scholars see the coffeehouse as the ultimate symbol of the public sphere, particularly in European history — politicians, writers, and men of fashion would meet to gossip, enjoy a drink, and sometimes even foment revolution.

But coffeehouse culture may be under threat. In the 1950s, Vienna suffered a period darkly known as kaffeehaussterben, or coffeehouse death. Luckily for intellectuals and caffeine addicts, the United Nations Economic, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been on the case. Since 2011, the “Viennese coffeehouse” has been on its list of Austria’s protected “intangible cultural heritage.” UNESCO created this designation in 2003 in an effort to preserve significant parts of culture that don’t happen to be buildings or mountains. According to UNESCO’s website, the Viennese coffeehouse is “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill” — at the very least, this has to be the metaphysically interesting entry on the list.

Now, Turkey and Argentina are trying to follow Austria’s example by applying to get UNESCO’s cultural blessing over their coffeehouses.

Read more. [Image: UNESCO]

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    yes, coffeehouses are holy
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    Korea’s coffee culture: a zillion different Korean-born chain coffeehouses on each block (plus Dunkin/Starbucks— ignore...
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