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First-time visitors come to Vienna thinking that they have prepared adequately for local coffeehouse culture. They’ve read about all the famous coffeehouses in their trusty travel guides. They’ve even memorized all the local types of coffee.
Thinking that they’ve self-educated adequately, they enter a Kaffeehaus somewhere in the First District, ready to be swept away to a vanquished era of Habsburg grandeur. As soon as the door shuts behind them—cigarette smoke penetrating their nostrils—they choose a spot to lounge and try to grab the waiter’s attention, either the preferred local term for “waiter”—will come, just not instantaneously.
According to Andreas Augustin, author of “Das Cafe Central Treasury: The Secret of a Famous Coffee House,” your waiter “…noticed you three streets away, at the precise moment you decided to come to the Kaffeehaus.”
He continues: “Be considerate if Herr Ober does not recognize you on your first visit. The aloofness stems from the days when there was an average of one point nine Nobel Prize Winners seated at every table in a Viennese Kaffeehaus.”
You can find Augustin’s fabulous book online.