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H. Keijzer's coffee & tea shop celebrates 150 years.

H. Keijzer's coffee & tea shop celebrates 150 years

In September 1839, Henricus Keijzer opened a shop selling coffee and tea in the centre of Amsterdam: at Prinsengracht number 180. The shop is still there and not only that: there is a continuous flow of people who do not want to go to the supermarket to purchase their coffee and tea, but who want to make a choice to suit their own tastes.

The present assortment in the shop encompasses no less that 22 types of coffee, from Java or Tanzania Arabica to biological Mexican Altura. In addition to this, tea is also prominently featured with over 80 different types of black, green and herbal teas. Some of the varieties are also sold in teabags. With the tea, as with the coffee, the biological varieties from Sri Lanka and India are not missing either.

The big attraction of the shop is its very old tradition and professional skill, its enormous choice of taste in coffee and the quality of its wares and its specialties. People can purchase five different types of Darjeeling-tea and several F.T.G.F.O.P. teas from India and Indonesia. In the spring, the shop highlights the famous first flush darjeeling, brought in by air as a real scoop.

There are 10 types of blended coffee, from very mild to real acid and strong. Among these blends is the famed Amsterdam Wiener Melange, a blending of a good Arabic-quality together with double-roasted coffee. The Italian espresso coffee is sold in two blends and there is even a blend of Maragogypes. There are also 12 pure types: among others the Mocca Limu and the Costa Rica FCC Dota Tarrazu.


Henricus Keijzer was the offspring of a true Amsterdam trading family. He owned two warehouses--"Coffee, tea and colonial products" stated the front of the building. The family lived in the "bend" of the Herengracht; this was something of some significance in Amsterdam, as in the earlier days only the wealthiest people lived here.

Keijzer bought his goods at the Amsterdam exchange, as did his son and successor, Johannes. The latter, however, either had less luck, or less business foresight; he gambled on the rice harvest and in doing so, lost a fortune when the harvest fell short of expectations. As a result of this, the warehouses were sold but the business on the Prinsengracht was pursued with renewed diligence.

After World War I, it appeared that the Amsterdammers were interested in good coffee and tea and other niceties from the colonies; at a certain point in time Keijzer even had 15 establishments situated throughout the city.

A photograph which was taken to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Keijzer in 1939, displays no less than 75 employees!

World War II brought an almost fatal turnaround. As the supply of raw materials stagnated, the business dwindled slowly and the Keijzer shops were forced to close down. The shop on the Prinsengracht managed to survive these troubled times and the fierce competition from the supermarkets which followed when it started developing after the war. It is highly probable that the conscious selection for top quality and large assortment, kept Keijzer's head above water.

When the last Keijzer, Henri, withdrew from the shop due to his age, he had no son to whom he could pass on his expertise. He sold the business to Mr. Braskamp of the coffee-roasting house Ten Have from Deventer. After a few years, Alex Meijer became the owner in 1965.

At that time there were still about 15 small coffee-roasting houses operating in Amsterdam (before the war there were at least 40 of them), Simon Levelt B.V. being one of them. Simon Levelt b.v. was established in 1817 and also in this traditional coffee-roasting house, was the craftsmanship passed from father to son.

Hence, the fifth Levelt generation is at the head of this business. It was in 1971 that Simon Levelt, the last remaining Amsterdam coffee-roasting house, took over the running of the Keijzer shop, and in doing so, prevented this shop from disappearing altogether. Since that time, Simon Levelt provides the wide assortment of coffee, tea and requisites, and guarantees the quality of all Keijzer-products.

Simon Levelt has made good use of the famous name of Keijzer as the chain branch bears the name Keijzer. Specialty-shops sell the coffee and tea under the brand-name of Keijzer.

The Keijzer-shop on the Prinsengracht is known far beyond the borders; customer phone from Switzerland and Germany; it is mentioned in various travel guides and even in a Japanese reference book on coffee.

The shop interior is still authentic 1900's and when you enter, the wonderful smell of freshly ground coffee, mixed with herbs envelopes each customer.

The September festivities in which the customers will be offered coffee of a truly old-fashioned quality, will represent the start of a subsequent period of enthusiasm and craftsmanship, so that the festivities can be repeated in 2039.

PHOTO : Interior of H. Keijzer's shop on the Prinsengracht still remains unchanged from its early

PHOTO : 1900's days.

PHOTO : Changing scenes of both tea and coffee grace the exterior of the shop

PHOTO : Filling orders on the many varieties of coffee
COPYRIGHT 1989 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Amsterdam
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Oct 1, 1989
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