But...they have such marvelous and intellectual coffee houses...!
"The history of Viennese coffee house culture is closely linked to the end of the Siege of Vienna in 1683. Legend has it that the Viennese citizen Georg Franz Kolschitzky (1640 - 1694) was the first to obtain a licence to serve coffee in the city following his heroic actions during the Siege of Vienna. The coffee beans left behind by the Turks were the basis of his success. A street in Vienna’s 4th district was named after him and a statue was put up at the corner of Favoritenstraße/Kolschitzkygasse.
However, the first coffee house in Vienna was actually opened by the Armenian spy Diodato. He served at the Viennese Imperial court and was a man full of secrets. He knew about the dark beans and the art of preparing coffee from his home country. The Johannes-Diodato-Park in Wieden, Vienna’s 4th district, is dedicated to him.
The first coffee houses already had several of the characteristics that are still typical of a Viennese-style coffee house today. Waiters served a glass of water with every cup of coffee and they were equipped with card games and pool tables.
In 1720, the Kramersches Kaffeehaus coffee house in Vienna’s city centre was the first to put out newspapers for its guests to read. It was another big step in Vienna’s coffee house history when warm meals and alcohol were first allowed to be served. However, in 1808, Napoleon's Continental Blockade of England also had an effect on Austria, where the price for coffee beans increased sharply. Coffee house owners had to look for alternatives not to go bankrupt which led to the development of café restaurants.
In 1856, women were finally no longer banned from coffee houses. Before that the cashiers were the only women there.
Literature cafés and coffee house literature
Around 1890 Café Griensteidl became the regular meeting venue of a group of literary figures called "Jung Wien" (Young Vienna). An illustrious group of young writers such as Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Karl Kraus and Arthur Schnitzler met at the café and gave birth to coffee house literature.
However, the writers did not limit their attention to just one coffee house. They regularly chose different coffee houses as their favourites: Café Griensteidl was followed by Café Central, which was followed by Café Herrenhof as the most popular meeting point of young writers. Other artists also had their favourite coffee houses: Café Museum, for example, became a popular meeting venue for painters.
In general, the Viennese, who mostly lived in tiny, crowded flats, regarded the elegant coffee houses as their "extended living rooms" or second homes where they could meet friends and other people. After World War One, the first dance cafés opened and played popular American jazz music. During the world economic crisis in the 1930s, coffee houses were increasingly used as trading places where much sought-after goods were exchanged under the tables.
Destruction of Jewish coffee house culture
In 1938, the Nazis seized coffee houses owned by Jews, mainly in Vienna’s 2nd district. They had been a lively counterpart to the more ostentatious coffee houses of the first district and a second home for many Jewish intellectuals and artists.
In the 1950s, Viennese coffee houses plunged into a crisis. Italian-style espresso bars became more and more popular, and traditional coffee houses were increasingly considered old-fashioned. Up to the 1980s, many long-established Viennese-style coffee houses had to close down.
In 1983, the tradition was revived when Viennese coffee houses celebrated their 300th anniversary and many Viennese started to remember the unique qualities of their coffee houses.
In 2011, Viennese coffee house culture was included by the UNESCO in the national inventory of intangible cultural heritage: cultural heritage "Viennese coffee house culture" (in German)."