Tilburg International Club

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Is a coffee borrel a misnomer?


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Dictionaries translate this very Dutch word as a drink or a round of drinks. So when you say you’re going to a borrel, it usually means that you’re attending an informal social gathering, often involving alcohol, with a few borrel hapjes (snacks) to accompany the wine or beer.

Going by the strict definition then, what TIC did on a Saturday morning in October wasn’t a borrel. There was no wine, no spirits in sight, not even an Irish coffee. Judging by the amount of food on our table – almost outnumbering rather than merely complementing the drinks – it looked more brunch than borrel.

But if you think about it, it’s not really the drinks that make a borrel. Instead, it’s gezelligheid – that cozy, inviting feeling that tells you that you’re welcome, in good company, among friends. And that was certainly how it seemed to those of us who had gotten out of bed and pedaled, walked or driven to Buut Vrij. Over coffee and breakfast, we talked about what we had done in the weeks since we had last seen each other – the last book club evening, the more recent 3D workshop or the cycling tour that begun the club year – and we shared news about exciting new developments in our lives: a just-celebrated birthday, temporarily moving house, getting one step closer to completing a dissertation, planning an upcoming vacation. In the end, no one questioned whether our borreltje was in fact, a borrel. Not even the Dutch among us.

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