What stories are not entwined around the glass of water to the coffee.

The most widespread is certainly that it is intended to compensate for the loss of liquid caused by coffee.

This is not entirely wrong, because water really reduces the diuretic effect of caffeine.

But this fact has only been known since the 20th century and the glass of water has been used for coffee since the 18th century.


Therefore we have to look for the roots of this custom somewhere else and since I did some research, I would like to take you on a little trip: to Vienna of the 18th century.


Coffee was already known here very early and at that time it became really popular. Especially among the aristocrats it was “the” new fashion drink that was regularly served with plenty of milk and sugar.

But there was the small problem that one did not know where to put the spoon after stirring.

In the fine Viennese society it was considered as equally unfine to lick the spoon after use as to simply place it on the saucer.

So the resourceful coffee house owners soon had the idea of serving a glass of water in which the spoon could be placed after use.


The only stupid thing was that the Viennese water was so polluted that people preferred to hide it from their guests.

The ordinary people used it anyway, but they wanted to spare the nobility on whose money they depended the sight of it.


So it soon became an unwritten law that Viennese coffee houses were only allowed to offer water that was crystal clear before cooking.

And since they didn’t want to be inferior to the competition, they were also willing to invest in a joint water treatment system.

Which of course had the nice side effect that Vienna was one of the first cities on the old continent to have clean drinking water.


The idea of serving a glass of water with coffee was, of course, enthusiastically received by the Viennese population, and more and more people internationally became aware of it.

The first time this happened was during the Congress of Vienna, and when half of Europe visited Vienna during the Austrian World Exposition in 1873, the idea spread to other countries.

This is why it is customary today almost everywhere in Europe to serve a glass of water with coffee.


Much later, when more and more guests began to drink this water, it became another meaning.

As soon as the glass was empty, a waiter hurried up and filled it up again. This was of course the ideal opportunity to place another order without calling for the waiter.

A habit that is unfortunately far too rarely noticed today.