Thursday, 13 August 2009


“This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition, the shafts of with start up like sharpshooters. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with powder.” – Honoré de Balzac, "The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee"

One of the pleasures of travelling is sampling some of the local food and drink specialties. I had a meeting today in one of the cafés close to work and on the spur of the moment I ordered Viennese coffee. The coffee was excellent, but rather than Viennese coffee, it reminded me more of a coffee that I had in Germany when I was visiting Rüdesheim, the local specialty, Rüdesheimer Kaffee.

Rüdesheim is a lovely little town on the Rhine, amidst hills laden with terraced vineyards and having an atmosphere that’s straight out of a fairy tale. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century Rudesheim has been an attraction for English and German poets alike, and is today, considering the modest number of residents one of the most visited towns in the country. Historical landmarks, include the Klunkhardshof, the fortified Adler Tower, the thousand-year-old Broemser castle and the ruins of the Ehrenfels Castle. The nearby extensive forests of the nature park Rhein-Taunus are an added bonus.

From the vantage points of the Niederwald, the visitor can also enjoy breathtaking views of the Rhine valley with the Nahe river estuary and the beautiful uniformity of the steep vineyards. The superb Rüdesheimer Riesling is the local alcoholic specialty and one can enjoy it, together with music and dancing, in the Drosselgasse or in the numerous inns, wine bars and taverns.

But I digress, here is the recipe for the coffee:

Rüdesheimer Kaffee
Ingredients (for 4 cups)

150 ml cream
Vanilla sugar
160 ml brandy (Asbach Uralt, if you want to be really authentic!)
12 sugar cubes
800 ml scalding hot espresso coffee
Dark chocolate flakes


Whip the vanilla sugar and cream until stiff peaks form and reserve. Heat four flameproof cups (there are special Rüdesheimer coffee cups and you may want to buy some if you become addicted to this coffee!) and place three sugar cubes in each cup. Pour equal parts of the well-warmed brandy over the sugar cubes in each cup. Light the brandy-sugar mixture stir, and allow to burn for a minute. Pour in the hot coffee and fill to about two centimeters below the rim. Fill the cup with the whipped vanilla Chantilly cream. Sprinkle the cream with dark chocolate flakes.



  1. This does sound a lot like the Vienna coffee we can get here. The brandy must make it Rudesheimer.

  2. Yes, Asbach Brandy is from Rudesheim which makes it Rudesheimer Kaffee. Everyone I have served it to becomes a convert. I even have the cups and saucers. It is a real treat.