I know my way around Budapest, and I seldom miss the opening of a new spot. The existence of Edison & Jupiter, however, has escaped my attention for a long time, even though the café’s atmosphere, hiding in plain sight on Vörösmarty Square gives an overwhelming experience right from the first moment, especially in such a cacophonous neighborhood.
Vörösmarty Square can certainly be called the heart of Budapest. This is where the M1 metro terminates its course running under the city and where the bustle of Váci Street begins. It is also home to the iconic Café Gerbeaud and the Onyx Restaurant, and it’s also where the somewhat controversial Christmas Market is held every year. If you’re a tourist in the capital, you’re sure to pass by here, the square being recommended by every guidebook that ever existed. Hungarians, however, are more cautious, as they feel (not without reason) that it no longer really belongs to them. But if you take a turn at the corner of Dorottya Palace, you suddenly find yourself in front of a truly imposing door. On the façade, a glistening sign promotes Edison & Jupiter, while inside soft music, the divine smell of kalach (a traditional sweet bread found in Central and Eastern European cuisines—the Transl.), and the hum of coffee machines fill the space. At first glance, it may not be clear whether it’s meant to evoke the elegance of a big-city café or the trailblazing attitude of the specialty coffee world, but as the café’s hostess, Nóra Matusek shared with us, they aim to combine elements of both of these.
Nóra, like so many in the profession, is a career changer. She had earned a master’s degree in mass communication, and before that, a degree in Business Management with Arts from the IBS Budapest. Speaking multiple languages, including Russian, she went international, and took a job at the UN, working for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for many years. In the meantime, she cooked as a hobby and as word about her talent spread fast, she quickly found herself hosting Russian cooking classes. As she wanted to make a career out of gastronomy, once her children were born, she decided to change course in this direction. I had a very heartwarming moment writing this article when I found out that her mother, the Belarusian Natalia Vaynovskaya was the one who welcomed us at Gurman Budapest—this tiny pelmeni place was also the pilot of the café and when the time came, Nóra wanted to open a new place based on her experiences at the Gurman.
After nine months of hard work, Edison & Jupiter opened its doors on the 20th of August. There’s not a single detail in the café that Nóra and her team haven’t paid attention to. For example, the lamps hanging from the ceiling, opening up like petals to create a sense of dynamism, were created by LumoConcept; several concrete elements came from CONCRAZY; and the ceramics were designed by Krisztina Urbán. The interiors are Bianca Mtenga’s and Réka Bagota’s work—the aim was to reflect the owner’s style, i.e. to be elegant and sophisticated, but not alienatingly luxurious. To be cozy and welcoming, while remaining profound.
There are many features that reflect this duality, such as the pastel colors, the mixed scent of kalach and perfume filling the shop, or the contemporary artworks covering the walls (like those by József Csató and Alíz Vojnits), all hand-picked by Nóra herself. The birth of the logo was slightly unusual, as the opening was already in sight on Christmas 2021 when her daughter announced that she would draw the logo, and a bow shape was born on the paper. She took this to a graphic designer who stylized and transformed it. The name choice is no coincidence, either, since Edison’s name refers to ingenuity and intuition, while Jupiter’s refers to the presence of the divine spark.
Nóra has not only dreamt up the place, but on most days, we can also meet her working behind the counter. Admittedly, she wants to run the café as an experimental gastro-workshop, which is reflected in the menu, offering mostly homemade dishes with ingredients sourced from local producers. She is famous for her flaky, soft kalach, which she loves to bake, so the brunch menu also includes compositions featuring this soft pastry. You can order them with jam, ham, goat camembert, foie gras brûlée, salmon, or even caviar. Of course, the offer also includes a Russian-inspired blini, the soup of the day, and even Aranygaluska (a Hungarian dessert made with baked yeast dough and vanilla custard—the Transl.), not to mention Nóra’s homemade cakes, such as her banana cheesecake. The menu changes every two months, but if she stumbles upon something new, she quickly adds it to the menu. Her aim is to give a glimpse into the treasures of Hungarian gastronomy.
At Edison & Jupiter, of course, specialty coffee is just as important. Barista Gaszton Györök is the person responsible for this, and we have to thank him not only for the beautiful latte art but also for the coffee itself, as one of the two grinders always contains a guest blend, while the other one has their own, an Ethiopian version created between him and Nóra with the help of roastmaster Imre Csohány. The two of them see the kitchen as a playground, so they never stop experimenting. Right now their newest invention is a paprika latte.
They travel, taste and, if they can, take the team along. Nóra believes that in unity there is strength, so every time she hires a new colleague, she asks herself if, besides being professionally fit, would she also want to go bowling with them. Because you need candor, teamwork, and unique personalities to make the café’s identity stand out and be self-identical. She has many plans for the future, including targeting the catering sector and taking on small events, but she also wants to make the live music on Tuesdays and Saturdays a permanent feature.
To sum it all up, if you’re in Dorottya Street, don’t be put off by the luxurious surroundings, just pop in for a great coffee or some delicious party-filled, homey breakfast, and treat yourself to some me-time. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Photos: Edison & Jupiter Specialty Coffee Lounge and Gastrolab—Levente Latorcai