Hungarian Red Cross opens cool new café in Budapest

Photo : Sándor Csudai / WLB

If having a coffee and a tasty snack seems to you like a pretty good way of giving to charity, then head to Budapest’s new Empathy Café by Arany János metro station. Run by the Hungarian Red Cross, the café serves tasty speciality java, wine and snacks, and uses the proceeds to help the charity’s philanthropic activities such as organising blood donation events and helping people in need. Visitors will also find an affordable, daily-changing lunch, quality Hungarian wines and a planet-friendly attitude to plastic.

The headquarters of the Hungarian Red Cross has been located by Arany János utca metro station for 60 years, but this is the first time that it has officially opened its gates to the general public in the form of a cosy café. This spacious and contemporary industrial-style hangout serves speciality java sourced from the farm of a Hungarian living in Costa Rica, and DOP pizzas, savoury snacks halfway between a Hungarian lángos and something you’d find in Rome, topped with fresh local ingredients. Hungarian Laposa wines and non-alcoholic refreshments also feature, and while lunch specials – soup and DOP pizza – are already available every day, the regular menu has not yet been finalised. Plastic waste is kept to a minimum – instead of bottled water filtered tap water is used, infused with magnesium – and the cutlery is made of recycled materials.

Photo: Attila Polyák / WLB

The centrepiece of the café is a long seating area that reflects its whole ethos. Originally, the tables were all pushed together creating one big block to encourage people to sit down together, even next to strangers they would not necessarily share a coffee with otherwise. But as this set-up initially made guests a little shy, tables were rearranged into a Tetris-like structure, which works much better. From the autumn, community events and themed talks will be held here, helping put the original idea into practice.

Photo: Attila Polyák / WLB

The café came into being thanks to many kind endeavours from the public. Hello Wood donated the tables, some 100 Hungarian celebrities filled the shelves with signed books that include their thoughts on empathy, while homeless people supported by the Red Cross helped with building work. LG installed the air conditioning that makes this former garage area a cosy café. All you need to do is pop in for a coffee and fill up with a DOP pizza, all for the greater good.

Empathy Café
  • District V, Arany János utca 31
  • Mon-Thur 7:30am-8pm, Fri 7:30am-10pm, Sat-Sun closed