Denise and I had been married for several years before she realized that Kaffee und Kuchen was a German tradition. She simply thought my family had a serious coffee and cake habit, one of many reasons why she loves my family!
Kaffee und Kuchen, Coffee and Cake
Kaffee & Kuchen is a casual get-together in the afternoon, usually around 3:30pm, either at a coffee house or in a private home. Its as simple as it sounds, everyone eats cake, and most drink coffee or tea. Kaffee und Kuchen is also referred to as a Zwischenmahlzeit, meaning a meal between meals, comparable to the British tradition of tea time.
When is Kaffee und Kuchen?
The most common day for Kaffee und Kuchen to happen is Sunday. Most Germans are off work, sleep long, have a late breakfast and read the newspaper. After a stroll through a park or the city, in the afternoon it is time for Kaffee und Kuchen. Germans will also have coffee and cake for someone’s birthday or other family celebration.
Let's Talk Cake...
The abundance of bakeries and cafes in German cities offer many varieties of cake for people who do not want to bake and prefer to pick up a cake to share with the rest of the group. There isn’t one specific kind of cake for Kaffee und Kuchen, it can range from an elaborate decorated cake made by a bakery to a simple grocery store-bought sponge cake topped with seasonal fruit like strawberries or cherries. As a child I always looked forward to Kaffee und Kuchen, even though I never liked coffee. The different varieties of cake were right up my alley, and I would eat as much cake as I could in record time. It was a great treat for me. I was always worried one of my favorite cakes (plum pictured above or strawberry, followed by cheesecake with tangerine pieces) would be gone before I'd had a piece. Then came the hard part...
I was stuffed and happy, wanting to lay down and relax. However, this was always the part where my grandparents wanted to hear how my grades were, if I get along with my sister, or even have a girlfriend already. In between there was grown-up talk about the changing weather, upcoming holiday plans and other family members. Needless to say, this is the most boring and tiresome part of Kaffee und Kuchen, especially for a child who wants to go into the next room to watch TV or crack another high score in Tetris rather than answer an adult’s questions.
The older I become and the less I see my family during the year, the more I look forward to the first afternoon get-together when I arrive in Germany. I still prefer the cake over the coffee, but I also treasure hearing everybody's stories and adventures since the last time I have seen them. Next time you are in Germany, enjoy the chance to indulge in sweet, buttery desserts in the afternoon and spend time with family and friends in a relaxed atmosphere.
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