Welcome to Vollpension: Coffeehouse and Social Enterprise in Vienna
When you open the door to ‘Vollpension Generation Café’ aka ‘Granny’s public living room’ you instantly feel like you enter the living room of your childhood where you get a warm hug and be spoiled by your grandma’s freshly baked cakes. The concept of this café in Vienna is based on exactly that feeling.
Coffeehouses and the culture around it, is synonymous with Vienna. A 'Kaffeehaus' is an oasis of Gemütlichkeit, a place where the Viennese have been spending time to meet, read and think since 1685 (when the Ottomans left a bag of coffee beans in Vienna).
Since the opening of Vollpension, only a stone’s throw from the famous Naschmarkt, the Viennese coffeehouse is also a social enterprise fighting old age poverty. The four co-founders created a space where seniors can actively get involved in our society with a meaningful activity, find self-empowerment and increase their disposable income by 40% on average by doing what they do best: baking cakes. Vollpension is German for both, a hotel stay including full-board – similar to your granny’s place - and retirement payment. 50% of the Vollpension team are older than 60. Old-age poverty and loneliness are big issues not only in Austria but around the world. 50% of the team are older than 60! Vollpension also creates a dialogue between young and old – because eating (homemade cake) brings people together.
Then the pandemic hit and from one day to the other Vollpension had to shut its doors. In full Vollpension-style the owners launched the online platform 'BakAdemy' with on-demand and live baking courses. Via Zoom, grandmas and grandpas teach 'BakAdemics' everything they need to know to bake their favourite cake when grandma is not handy.
With their latest campaign 'Bake Against Poverty', Vollpension wants to raise global awareness for the increasing issues old people face - not only during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grandmas and grandpas from all over the world (even from Australia!) are invited to apply and share their favourite recipes and connect with younger generations. On the BakAdemy platform you can now not only choose to bake Austrian classics with Vollpension’s core team but go international with Mrs Jayashree from India and bake Coconut Cardamon Barfi or Mrs Diana from the Northern Rivers in NSW and bake a Macadamia Tart.
"We can see that the demand for jobs for older people is high, and therefore we want to give seniors all over the world the possibility to collaborate with us on our online courses.", says Julia Krenmayr, Managing Director & Co-founder
Astrid Gruchmann-Licht, Director of the Austrian National Tourist Office in Australia, interviewed David Haller, one of the co-founders and Social Omanizer, to find out more about the idea and mission of Vollpension and how it went global. To the video
While there are coffeehouses in many European cities, the laid-back atmosphere found in a Viennese coffeehouse is unmatched worldwide. To really tell the story we have to go back in time: 1683 to be precise when the Ottoman Empire was trying to capture Vienna. Once the Ottoman army was defeated bags of strange beans (some even thought, those could be camel feed – or worse camel dung) were found in the abandoned Ottoman encampment by a general of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He experimented with the then bitter brew, added sugar and milk, and eventually created a new beverage: coffee. The new drink was so well received that in 1685 coffeehouses quickly opened all over Vienna and the now-famous coffeehouse culture was born. During its hey-days in the 1910s, Vienna was home to about 600 coffeehouses.