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Vienna Coffee Cafés

This past week I got to spend several days in Vienna and Budapest with my son. Great conversation, great coffee, great food, great photographic subjects. Ah, I’m ready to go back.

In very brief research before going (we only decided a few days beforehand) one thing became apparent – Vienna is Coffee Café heaven. Everything written about visiting Vienna included a comment on making sure to visit one of their café’s. Given that I spend several hours almost every day with my laptop in some café somewhere in the world, this sounded like my kind of place.

What makes the Viennese café’s so special?

At the very top of the list is the overall atmosphere. Unlike the average coffee café in the US, the ones in Europe and in particular those in Vienna are quiet. Even with 30 people and a dozen conversations it’s quiet. I was heartened when in one café a group of 3 people began talking somewhat loudly and several people began giving them ‘the look’. They quieted down. When they’d become louder again about 30 minutes later and weren’t seeming to notice the looks of others, a waiter told them to either quiet down or leave. Yes, my kind of place. Surprisingly the offending group wasn’t a bunch of Americans, who are the usual loud and obnoxious offenders of decorum, but a group of Italians.

Interestingly, as I’m writing this, it’s the employees in this US coffee café who are the most offensively loud, not the patrons.

Next on the list is quality. At least at the café’s we were able to visit, the quality of their coffee drinks and rather fattening pastries* was extremely high. The Viennese know how to do it right. While the average high school kid can become a barista in Starbucks in a few hours, in Vienna it takes months and sometimes years.

Aside from Starbucks and CoffeeHeaven, Viennese café’s all have table side service – and very excellent service at that**.

Many of the café’s, particularly the newer ones, take in to account laptop users and provide numerous places for users that allow for privacy, don’t have window glare in front or behind, and often convenient power.

Finally, they take it seriously. From drinks to décor to cleanliness to atmosphere the owners and employees make their patrons and a quality experience in every way their top priority.

Next spring in Vienna sounds good to me!

* Austria is one European country where food portions are huge.

** A very interesting difference in the US and Europe is the general quality of wait staff in all kinds of eateries. In Europe they take good service seriously and for many men it is a career. In the US we treat it as nothing but a stepping stone to something else with many wait staff actually quit incompetent.

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