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Der Pharisaer


With its weather battered coasts, ancient establishments that have been tormented by the wind, rain and sea, the Nordfriesland area of Germany has a long and often arduous relationship with the elements.

So, it is no surprise that the inhabitants of the towns and island that comprise this rural district also have a long association with coffee.

Hailing from the northernmost part of Germany comes the Pharisaer, the Kaiser of all Germanic coffee-based beverages.

And it has rather an interesting story as well.

Rumour, myth and lore all combine to tell the story of how this drink came to fruition.

Apparently, during celebrations occurring alongside the christening of one Johanna Theodora Katharina on Nordstrand island, just off the mainland.

The year was 1872 and the island’s Pastor, Gustav Beyer, was known for being a strict taskmaster who entertained no ill discipline and spoke vehemently against the amount of drinking that went on.

In order to sneak one past the Pastor, the congregation devised a drink made with rum and coffee that was topped with whipped cream, in order to keep the distinctive smell of the alcohol from being too obvious.

However, the plan ultimately failed and Gustav Beyer called out “Ihr Pharisaer!” – and so there were two christenings that day.

In true German fashion, a court in the city of Flensburg recently decreed 20ml of rum wasn’t enough to make a traditional Pharisaer.


You will need

  • Over 20ml of dark rum. (You want to create a ‘legal’ Pharisaer don’t you?)
  • 1 (strong) coffee
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • Sugar, to taste


  1. Pour the brewed coffee into a large cup or glass tumbler
  2. Sweeten to taste, if necessary
  3. Add the rum
  4. Place the whipped cream on top

So try this favourite, perfect for those windswept afternoons – or for when you’re feeling a little cheeky!

Nordfreisland’s heraldic coat of arms displays three golden ships on a blue background. Upon the sails of the ships, all of which are sailing westward, are the images of a plough, a herring and a bull’s head.

Maybe if they update it, they could add a coffee bean (or three!)

Photo: By Salzgraf CC BY-SA 3.0 über Wikimedia Commons.