Today’s coffeehouse culture is booming as more and more people are looking for a place to rejuvenate. Looking at how cafés were an essential part of Viennese life raises interesting questions about how we live and socialize in the modern city today. The Viennese café was a monument to the fruitful wasting of time: an idea that has much to offer today’s time-starved city-dwellers.
In Vienna there were cafés for everyone: artists, intellectuals, the respectable bourgeoisie and the not-so-respectable. People gathered in cafés to chat, eat, read, work, play, gamble and discuss. The café provided a place where the rigid social hierarchies of the day could be relaxed a little. The fluid character of this social space stimulated the minds whose intellectual and creative achievements made such a dramatic contribution to the development of European modernity at this time.
More than 300 years later the Kaffeehaus is stillan institution, without comparison. The Viennese have developed a whole culture around coffee drinking and elevated it to an all encompassing attitude of life.
You feel at home in a Kaffeehaus as you step inside: the setting is spacious yet intimate, there is plush seating around marble tables, the scrape of traditional Thonet wooden chairs on parquet floors and mirrors reflecting mildly steamy light.