Trieste is famous for many things: city life, the sea in sight, beautiful nature, mediterranean climate, great photo spots and gorgeous sunsets as well as culinary, stunning architecture and lifestyle!

Since you can hardly be disappointed in Trieste in terms of taste with all this, we pay tribute to one milestone of human culture: coffee, and go on the trail of the large quantities of coffee beans that were and are transported to Trieste. With it, not only did the extremely tasty beverage spread throughout Europe, but also a way of life of its own, such as sitting all day in front of brasseries and drinking coffee.

In Venice, coffee became known through traders from the Ottoman Empire. From 1638, coffee was sold, but it was considered more of a medicinal product.

Followed by France, where the black drink was introduced at the court of Louis XIV (“Coffee,” the French statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand once said, “must be hot as hell, black as the devil, pure as an angel and sweet as love.” ) and above all Austria, which laid the foundations for the coffee cult in Trieste with the first coffee after the second siege of the Ottomans in Vienna. The city was ruled by Austrians for over four centuries and formed the only port of the Habsburg Empire. Declared a free port by Charles VI in 1719, his daughter Maria Theresa developed Trieste into one of the largest trading cities in the Mediterranean.

Caffè Hausbrandt

“Caffè Hausbrandt” – 1990

Why did a famous French statesman like Talleyrand comment on a banality like coffee? Perhaps yes, because coffee is not so banal after all … and is far more than just a drink.

People from all over Europe flocked to the flourishing metropolis, among them many Jews, Eastern Europeans, Greeks and Turks. The rich merchants were followed by painters, actors and writers. The first coffee houses also sprang up at that time.

The oldest café in the city, the Caffè Tommaseo (Niccolò Tommaseo was one of the most respected writers of his time), opened in 1830, with wall mirrors from Belgium, Thonet chairs and stuccoed ceilings. Many others followed between the 19th and early 20th centuries, their furnishings, architecture and atmosphere testifying to the fashions and styles of different historical periods.

But it was above all their purpose as meeting places for artists, philosophers, politicians and intellectuals that made the cafés a fervent and lively centre of debate and decisive changes in society, discussed even more heatedly over a hot sip of coffee.

So said Count Pietro Verri (Count Verri was an economist, historian, philosopher and writer. He is one of the most important figures in 18th century Italian culture, considered one of the fathers of the Lombard reformist Enlightenment) in 1764 in the pages of the philosophical-literary journal “Il Caffè”, which he had founded together with his brother Alessandro and Cesare Beccaria (an important Italian legal philosopher and criminal law reformer in the Age of Enlightenment) – a drink “that enlightens the mind and comforts the soul”.

Trieste, then (so it is?)

Hausbrandt and Trieste. Central European Culture and Trade 1892 – 2023″ from 9 September to 22 October 2023 at the Salone degli Incanti.

In the Salone degli Incanti ( this is the former fish market hall, built in 1913. Today it is an exhibition centre for modern and contemporary art), celebrates the happy relationship between the famous 130-year-old coffee brand Hausbrandt and Trieste, the soul of Central European culture.

Caffeteria Hausbrandt Trieste

Caffeteria Hausbrandt – anni ’20

The exhibition focuses on the history of the graphic image and communication of the Hausbrandt brand, which has accompanied the changing times since the end of the 19th century between art and design. With famous painters and famous poster artists – from Metlicovitz to Biban.

Leopoldo Metlicovitz was a poster artist, illustrator and stage designer of the 19th century. Son of the city of Trieste, the Art Nouveau artist worked, among other things, as a stage and costume designer at La Scala in Milan. His work, but also his friendships with world greats such as Verdi and Puccini, are clearly reflected in his works, which to this day inevitably attract all eyes. Metlicovitz depicts Italian opulence as well as values such as conviviality, sharing, respect for nature in a simple and direct way, thus highlighting the quality of this coffee. `Hausbrandt Speciality Coffee`, a motto so innovative and immediate that it soon became synonymous with the company itself!

One of Friuli’s leading graphic artists, Luciano Biban, who created the original ‘Moka‘ logo in the 1960s, a synthesis of advertising and art, enriches the exhibition.

The path through the beautiful spaces of the former central fish market of Trieste is completed by a period dedicated to ‘La Tecnica’. You will find a tribute to `Il Territorio`, the Trieste of yesterday and today among coffee bags, grinders and coffee machines for bars since the 1950s.

A history of more than 130 years, intertwined with the history of Italy, the changing tastes, styles and rituals of society. Always united with the city it comes from, with the Central European culture. A charismatic place and vibrant cultural union of peoples, religions and knowledge that Trieste, the city of coffee par excellence, still represents.

The exhibition is honoured by the presence of Archduke Markus Habsburg-Lorraine representing Austria, a fraternal friend of the family of Martino Zanetti, President of the Hausbrandt Foundation.

Martino Zanetti - logo 130° anniversario – 2022

Martino Zanetti – logo 130° anniversario – 2022

The intensive journey through historical images, design and industrial objects, sketches, graphics, logos, archive material shows the nodes of the image success of this traditional brand, which stands for one of the best brands in Italy and presents Italian excellence: an image, also preserved and developed in the recent history by Martino Zanetti.

In his dual role as Chairman of the Hausbrandt Group and as an artist and connoisseur of art, music and literature, Martino Zanetti has contributed to the renewal of communication in recent years.

So the story continues.

In the coffee house, it sometimes feels as if time has stood still in Trieste, the capital of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. This beautiful region has an impressive past. Friuli Venezia Giulia was named after the Romans ( Julius Caesar) and has been home to all kinds of personalities, from Attila the Hun to Ernest Hemingway.

Writers and artists such as James Joyce, Umberto Saba and Italo Svevo frequented the city of Trieste and its coffee houses. With the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the economic and artistic-literary development in Trieste came to an abrupt halt. When the hitherto neutral Italy, as a new member of the Triple Entente (France – Russia – United Kingdom), declared war on Austria-Hungary on 23 May 1915, creating a front a few kilometres northwest of the city, many foreigners such as James Joyce had to leave Trieste.

This day also marked the end of Austrian rule in Trieste and Istria. In the Treaty of Saint-Germain, Trieste was formally awarded to Italy in autumn 1919, together with Istria and Eastern Friuli.

another grey line

Lead image by Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0,; all other images as credited, courtesy Hausbrandt e Trieste. Cultura e commerci mitteleuropei 1892 – 2023

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