Viennese Kaffeekultur has long been synonymous with the coffee industry in Austria. Having originated some 500 years ago, when the departing Ottomans left behind sacks of coffee beans, this culture has well and truly stood the test of time. Das Kaffeehaus brings this concept to Castlemaine, relocating the Central European coffee legacy to the historical streets of the goldfields.
Edmund Schaerf and Elna Schaerf-Trauner met in the mid 1980s working at one of Edmund’s brothers’ cafes – Daniel Moser, located at the site of Vienna’s very first coffee house. In the late 1980s the couple tree-changed to Castlemaine from inner Melbourne, with a shared dream to bring the Viennese Kaffeekultur to their new home. Today, their dream is a reality, housed inside a re-purposed, 100 year old woollen mill. For the pair, Das Kaffeehaus is an homage to their Austrian roots in an Australian setting.
The iconic red brick chimney that towers above the old mill pays tribute to the historical setting of Castlemaine. However, once you wander inside, you’ll quickly see that Das Kaffeehaus is a heartfelt ode to Vienna. Edmund and Elna have maintained the industrial interior of the mill but have added opulent Viennese decor and rich furnishings. Das Kaffeehaus is also the home of Coffee Basics, their original small-batch roasting business that Edmund and Elna established 15 years ago.
The roastery and cafe share the enormous open-plan space, featuring the mill’s original brickwork and concrete floors. An enormous crystal chandelier sits in the centre of the room, lighting the surrounding red leather Chesterfield booths and iconic Thonet barstools, chairs and marble tables.
Offering a range of different roasts, blends and single origins, Coffee Basics sources its beans from a selection of locations, including Africa, South and Latin America and Asia, focusing on growers of premium 100% Arabica beans, located 25 degrees north and south of the equator. Additionally, Edmund’s brother Roman owns a small plantation in Costa Rica.
The house blend, The Sipping Girl, combines beans sourced from Costa Rica, Peru and Colombia. You are able to taste any of their blends as an espresso, plunger, filter, cold drip or a Turkish brew. However, they also offer a variety of Viennese specialty coffees that may tickle your fancy: a single shot with condensed milk, a schnappicino –
a cappuccino with butterscotch schnapps, or a katerkaffe – a double espresso served with lemon-infused sugar cubes.
The food menu also pays homage to its Austrian roots, centred on classical Austrian dishes that could be found in a coffeehouse in Vienna, such as warm apple strudels, Fiaker goulash, a variety of schnitzels and even a Würstel menu. Like any good Viennese kaffeehaus, it is fully licensed and offers a range of beers and other alcoholic beverages.
Whether you are unfamiliar with the Viennese Kaffeekultur or regularly enjoy a wiener melange, Das Kaffeehaus offers all visitors a unique experience and taste of this historical culture – no jet lag or border controls required.