Johannes Diodato

Diodato | About Armenian merchant Johannes Diodato

The first coffee house in Vienna was opened by the Armenian spy Diodato. He served at the Viennese Imperial court and was a man full of secrets. He knew about the dark beans and the art of preparing coffee from his home country.

The legend tells us that on January 17, 1685, Armenian merchant Johannes Diodato (Johannes Theodat) was granted the privilege of serving coffee in the city of Vienna, the former capital of the Holy Roman Empire.

He had bronze-coloured skin, spoke Turkish and Arabic as well as the local dialects of the Ottoman Empire and owed his Christian first name to his Armenian background.

So, the first registered coffee house in Vienna was founded by the Armenian Johannes Theodat (also known as Johannes Diodato) in 1685. Diodato served as a courier for Vienna and as an honour received the privilege of serving coffee as the only merchant in the city for 20 years.

Diodato’s inn is remembered as a “speakeasy” – as one calls it today –, a secret meeting place that only few knew the address of and which had no sign at its door. One had to knock and say the secret password before you could enter.

It can be assumed that Diodato’s coffee house didn’t revolve around the coffee, but rather the people who drank coffee there and the messages they passed on. Due to his heritage, Diodato the Armenian was an expert at processing the rare raw material, which the Turks had to leave behind when they retreated from Vienna. With his coffee house, he killed two birds with one stone: ­coffee and conspiracy. After a few years, however, his restaurant was suddenly shut down – for unknown reasons.

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