Europe’s first coffee house and Sadullah Pasha

How did the Germans, who are famous for their fondness of beer, greet the introduction of the first coffee house?


Coffee has been one of the world’s most loved hot drinks for the past 200 years. In some countries it has become the national drink. Its popularity in Europe is owed to the Ottoman siege of Vienna.


Despite their efforts in 1683, the Ottomans were unable to breach the walls of Vienna. Some Turkish Muslim prisoners of war were later sent to Germany. One of these captives was the Ottoman army commander Mehmet Sadullah, who was sent to the city of Würzburg along with some other prisoners. This group of around 300 people also included women and children.




For the small wine-producing town of Würzburg, the arrival of the prisoners was a big event. The church, university and the shop filled town center refused to accept the prisoners in because they were Muslims. They attempted to forcefully convert them to Christianity. Those who did not comply were tortured and left to starve. They could not even find employment as house or shop servants.



The baptisms, whether voluntary or forced, were celebrated with a parade. However, they were never able to fully trust the Muslim Turks and they were sent to live in a camp designed like a caravanserai at a location today known as the Mosque Road.


Despite the tough conditions of the camp, the Turks still tried to continue with life as normal and would often make Turkish coffee. The curious beer-drinking wine-loving Germans wanted to taste this unknown black beverage. At first they did not like it, but later they came to love it.


Due to his rank in the Ottoman army, Mehmet Sadullah was referred to by the Germans as Sadullah Pasha. He wanted them to try the drink and would often offer it to them. After a while he was baptized and renamed Yohan Ernst Nicholaus Strauss and began to seek permission to open a coffee house in Würzburg. In 1697 he was finally granted permission. His coffee became so popular it became an integral part of daily German life.


It eventually became a competitor for wine, and it even became somewhat of a ritual for the people of Würzburg to drink coffee after a meal.



The personal finances of Sadullah Pasha shot up, and he went on to marry and have children in the city. Today the descendents of Sadullah Pasha are among thousands of Turks who populate Würzburg and the surrounding region. Many Turkish migrants who settled after 1960 are densely situated in the area. The city library of Würzburg even has a Turkish corner./Worldbulletin