Chicago: Julius Meinl on Southport 2011/09/23

The Meinl (pronounced MY-nl) family has been well-known in Austria since 1862, when Julius Meinl opened a specialty store selling green and roasted coffee beans in Vienna. But it wasn’t until November 2002, when the Julius Meinl Company opened a coffeehouse at the corner of Southport and Addison Avenues on Chicago’s North side (also the first Julius Meinl Coffeehouse in USA), that Chicagoan became familiar with the firm.

p.s. With Starbucks having opened its first store in Vienna in 2001, in a challenge to Austrian palates, it seems appropriate that American coffee drinkers are being given the opportunity to taste one of the most venerated coffee roasts in Europe in their own back yard.

The Meinl story begins in 1862 when Julius Meinl I. opened his first grocery store, selling spices and green coffee on Fleischmarkt in the center of Vienna. He created coffee blends and was the first to offer them freshly roasted for sale. Julius Meinl had found a new market as his innovation saved customers the challenge of roasting the green coffee beans on their kitchen stoves. In 1891 Julius Meinl opened a modern roasting plant in Neustiftgasse, Vienna where the retreating Ottoman army had left the green coffee beans 200 years earlier. http://northamerica.meinl.com/

Julius Meinl, the only “such" coffeehouse in America: The typical Vienna Coffee House offers a lot to everyone. People come to meet, to read, to see and to be seen.

First, the interior is designed to replicate the look and feel of one of Vienna’s 1900 or so existing coffeehouses. The 70-seat shop was custom-designed and built in Vienna. Then it was deconstructed and shipped to Chicago from white marble tabletops, wood shelves stacked from floor to ceiling with various coffee beans, teas, jams and gourmet goods, classical Viennese chairs and leather-upholstered booths in traditional gold, green and red patterns, to suspended soft globe lights that offset the historical photos lining the golden stucco walls.

At the back, a row of local, national and international newspapers, hung neatly on their wicker frames, just like in Vienna.

Second, coffee is served Viennese-style; drinks served on a silver tray with caramel or chocolate cookies and a small spoon balanced atop a glass of water on the side.

p.s. Melange, a traditional Viennese drink with one shot of espresso, the same amount of hot water and steamed milk.

My breakfast – Imperial Frühstück: Melange coffee, Pago fruit juice, soft-boiled egg, croissant, Emmentaler cheese

I am not a fan of soft-boiled egg; this one definitely is the best!

Third, Meinl coffees are less darkly roasted than many other blends, which gives Meinl coffee that special Viennese taste, without a trace of bitterness. Also, Meinl roasts its premium quality highland-grown coffees in Vienna, Austria and ships its coffees via Austrian Airlines fresh to Chicago.

Brass kettles serve seven daily brews.

p.s. The changes of  Meinl Coffee Boy logo:

In 1924 the well known Viennese artist Josef Binder creates the Meinl Mohr Logo.

1950 Otto Exinger, artist and head of Meinl’s advertising department, modernizes the Meinl Mohr, combines Turkish Sultanate and Arabic traditions with those of the Baroque Angels of European architecture. While the fez represented a tribute to the Turkish Sultan, the angelic boy represented the youth of a new company combined with the history of Vienna.

In 2004 Italian Designer Matteo Thun created a more modern look for the little coffee boy logo and introduction of a new coffee cup design. The coffee boy with the red fez is now the international trademark of the Julius Meinl Group.

However, the most interesting change was in 2002. With personal pastry recipes, daily-imported beans, and customized furniture have all been brought in from Vienna to transform the U.S. shop into an Austrian haven. Only the central European logo depicting a dark coffee boy was revised with a gold face! “We wanted to be politically correct," conceded Thomas Meinl.

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