In Italy you call it merenda, in France it’s quatre-heures and in Germany it’s Kaffee und Kuchen.
It’s the time where you have a little break in the afternoon, enjoying a cup or two of coffee and a piece of cake.
You can make the cake by yourself (have a look at this Käsekuchen recipe) or you go to a Konditorei, which has an amazing variety of Kuchen and Torten.
In Germany you don’t have to buy a whole Torte, you choose pieces from different kinds, so everybody can get their favourite one.
The pieces are nicely wrapped in paper and brought home. It’s widely common German tradition to have Kaffee und Kuchen on weekends at 15:30 with family and friends.
All of this started when coffee was introduced to a larger German public in the beginning of the 18th century. Coffeehouses started to show up in great numbers in big cities and were mostly frequented by men.
The Kaffeehäuser not only served the hot beverage, but also food and some even entertained their clients with cultural programs. The idea of entertained leisure time in modern ages was born in these places.
They quickly became a meeting point for the communities, which was not well received by authorities, because of the possibility to exchange new ideas, that could question the established power.
A women’s visit to a Coffeehouse at that time might have jeopardised her reputation.
So, women started to invite their friends at home to have a cup of coffee and a little chat. As up today it’s called a Kaffeekränzchen – coffee circle.
But you never offer only something to drink to your guests, right? There is always something that goes with it.
Adding sugar into coffee is a European invention (in Arabic countries instead it was more common to add spices like cardamon). So why not offering coffee with a sweet piece of cake?
Nowadays coffee is so popular that it’s the favourite drink of the Germans, even before beer. With about 6 kg/year per person Germans are not the biggest consumers in Europe, but in the Top 10.
Maybe this has to do with the way how you prepare the coffee in Germany? Have a look how this was established here.