Coffee - without coffee no man
We have a saying in the Hinterland and Entlebuch on the slopes of Mountain Napf: "The least,
they have to serve you a coffee."
Another similar saying: "Nothing goes without a coffee."
Thus everybody knows that this strange mountain folk in the Napf gullys will not devour and eat
you immediately; before at least you will get a coffee and it is a coffee with liquor, strong and
heavy, called Schnaps.
And if you join them you have a good chance for a second coffee, because there is another
saying: "Nothing goes home on one leg."
Very shy and lonely people get acquainted and familiarized with foreigners and strangers or just
people from the outside by drinking together a coffee schnaps. When someone arrives the first
word will always be: "Come inside and have a coffee!"
Actually those people don't devour strangers, but they drink strangeness into their bellies and
bodies until they and strangers are all but one. You can be sure that after some times all are a bit
beduzzeled and pell-melled. But that is no drunkenness.
They drink this coffee: to overcome shyness and fear and in order to feel not as a nothing, yes, to
know that through this drink they are united with the strangest of the strange and the darkest of
the dark and that they have all put to one point in the coffee glass.
And then is always added the Schnaps. This is their own product. Schnaps means alcohol
destilled from fermented leftovers from apples, pears, prunes and cherries. What for other parts of
the world may be grappa cognac is for the Napf mountain people Schnaps. It makes a man's
coffee. No man in the area would drink milk or just coffee with creme or milk. A coffee meant
always a Kafi Schnaps, or a ready made coffee. It is served in a glass, and mostly with a spoon in
Why coffee that is strange for the region?
And why in a glass - a fancy object in the wilderness?
Why this spoon when not long ago all silverware was rare?
Coffee came from Africa and arrived through the missionaries out of this area. Hinterland and
Entlebuch were Catholic and very poor. The only chance was a church career. Thus out of this
region came many male and female missionaries, priests, brothers and nuns. They brought some
beans of coffee when they came on homeleave. Only a few were used and thus the coffee in the
Hinterland is so light - it is not because of schnaps. For the people at home coffee stood for
Africa, the sweat of their missionaries, but also the darkness and strangeness, for uncertainty and
trust. Drinking some coffee had thus some connection with Africa.
And that is the reason where a glass is needed: it is the looking glass into the world. Through the
light coffee you might see others outside your world... The spoon was for stirring up: coffee,
sugar and schnaps... And you had always another constellation.
When it all became too dark you poured some more holy water into the coffee and it became
The schnaps was a regulative and meant some power; it stood for some participation in world
history, since it was really theirs. To baptize means in the farmers language to exercize power
over small devils and bad spirits. It was a ceremonical act when one poured schnaps into the
brewed coffee saying: "Let's baptize it." But it was real, because you appeased newcomers and
strangers, put them on equal base and kept away bad influence from outside.
All that resembles old seers' ways, rituals of divination, prophetic and magic traditions. For sure
there are some roots there. But what matters today is that even lonely, squattered and fearful
farmers have an access to the world and Africa in particular.
Recently there are some purists who accuse this Kafi Schnaps ceremony of racism. They don't
like Africa symbolized as coffee and get angry over the word: "Let's have it baptized." For the
Hinterlander this is insultive. If only outsiders could also look through the glass from the other
side and understand them! That's what they think in their deepest heart. All people, all over the
world, need a new brew of Kafi Schnaps.
"Come inside and have a coffee!"
And what about the new principle: "Nothing goes home on one leg?"