Marghilomana coffee or the possible history of a happy accident


There is nothing worse than admitting you do not enjoy a cup of coffee when you visit a Romanian household. Suddenly your host is lost, and you wonder if you should just swallow the bitter drink. 

It is almost a ritual: the first coffee enjoyed with your breakfast and at noon you serve the second coffee. So, if you do not adhere to this ritual, people are going to cry that they can’t live without coffee, and how can you?

I mean, I tried, but it is too bitter for my taste. And when my doctor said that I should skip coffee I was relieved that I had an excuse.

But I am still curious about the fascinating history of coffee: how people started to drink it, the first cafes, the ecological problems we face today. I want to talk about a type of coffee created in my town by a key political figure from Romania’s history.


Alexandru Marghiloman

Alexandru Marghiloman

When World War I began, the Conservative politician favoured that Romania enter the war side by side with Germany, after all the king was German. But the rest of the key figures chose to be neutral, at least for a couple of months. 

Two years after the start of the war, Romania joined the Allied side. I will not get into details about the war, but at one moment the capital was lost and the administration moved to another town, Iași. King Ferdinand asked Alexandru Marghiloman to be the Prime Minister and help him make peace with Germany and save his country. 

The conditions of the peace treaty were severe, and even today people condemn Alexandru Marghiloman, even if the treaty was never ratified. 

But he was really put in a pickle. Half of the country was occupied by the enemy, and no one wanted his position. I’m not saying he was a hero, but I do not think that anyone could have found another solution. 

He was replaced as Prime Minister and retired in Buzău, his hometown. 

So now we know who the inventor was, but he was more than just the scapegoat of the war: he was a famous horse breeder, he had a beautiful villa in Buzău where he invited the important people from our country (it is said that the queen gathered strawberries here). 


Marghilomana coffee, a happy accident

Marghilomana coffee

No one knows for sure how this type of coffee was invented, but everyone agrees that it must have been an accident. The Turkish coffee is famous because it does not boil in water, but brandy. Well, it sure is a lovely way to wake up, right?

One story says that once when Marghiloman was hunting he craved a coffee and asked his butler to make him one. The butler had no water for boiling the coffee but had brandy, so he improvised, and so the magical drink was created. 

Another story tells that Marghiloman had guests over at his Albatros Villa on a stormy night. The plumbing broke. His guests asked him for a coffee and his staff used brandy, instead of water. 

It does not matter how Marghilomana coffee was invented. Soon it became a favourite among the aristocracy who asked for a Marghilomana at every fancy café from the capital.


How to prepare your own Marghilomana coffee

Marghilomana coffee

I have seen a couple of cafes in Bucharest that serve the Marghilomana coffee, but I will still share the recipe:

Simmer 100 ml of brandy with two tablespoons of sugar. When it brings to a boil, add three tablespoons of coffee. Take it off the stove, cover it, and after 2-3 minutes you can pour it into a small cup with no handle. 

And, voila, you made your own coffee with brandy a la Alexandru Marghiloman. Enjoy!


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