Vienna’s Sixth Gift to the World: Coffee(houses)

The Viennese middle class is quite xenophobic. Nothing particularly special about that, if there wasn’t the second “Türkenbelagerung”. Just for the sake of making the intro of this article more interesting, I conclude that the battle still has social significance up until today. And it might even really make sense, as, that’s when the idea of “coffeehouses” was, once again, migrated from Asia to Europe.

While the first coffee was served in Berlin, we were smart enough to apply an early form of guerrilla marketing, certainly out of the subconscious but obsessive perfectionism, by sweetening the otherwise bitter black cup of liquid. Milk! Honey! (Sugar!) World fame!

Of all the opened coffeehouses over Europe, Vienna’s are those that kept traditions, of course with European modifications, yet always going with the zeitgeist. Quite common today for example, are the types where the alternative/creative industry/artsy fartsy people hang out. But self service? Good luck finding one. We prefer grumpy editions of waiters, occasionally forgetting and mixing up your order.

Lots of surrounding explanation, what does that practically mean? As opposed to other places, coffeehouses count as “living space”. You don’t order, drink, and leave as soon as you’ve finished – you sit down, and stay for hours, maybe even the whole day. The best part is, you don’t have to consume all the time, but you get free tap water (of incredibly quality, but that’s worth another story) as soon as you’re done with whatever’s on your table.

The lovely ceiling of the Prückel

There are still cafés with the same furniture as 50 years ago, and there are cafés that are also a record store, or furniture store. There is local jargon, as well as actual specialities like Einspänner and Melange, of which the latter is similar to a Cappuccino.

There’s far too much to explain here, so since there is far too much alcohol in my blood to make this straight, I’ll upload this embarrassing piece of blah just to force you to visit us and feel for yourself ;)

3 Comments so far

  1. melancolia (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

    Bräunerhof is my first Viennese coffeehouse. The first time i was there, i immediately noticed its clientele sitting cosily on their antique chairs. the place was semi-full and smokey. Nevertheless, the customers didn’t mind it. I thought to myself, they are here shutting the doors behind them and they completely forget that there’s a world outside. That’s one of the things the Viennese coffee culture is one of a kind. And I don’t think Berlin has that.

  2. simo (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2006 @ 10:19 pm

    michael? did I read “alcohol in my blood” :) greetz from sevilla and about the tab water… it tastes like swimming pool here.. and why is there no spanish metblog..

  3. josh (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 6:40 am

    As a resident of the “other place” you linked, I think that it’s worth mentioning that people in Seattle are all too happy to spend hours in cafes. So much so that one of them have taken to turning off their free internet on weekends to discourage patrons from encamping for the entire day to the detriment of human interaction.

    That said, we do thank you for starting the tradition!

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