The Hipsterisation of Vienna – Kaffeesudlesen

This week I have been busy helping out a friend to get the flat his mother left him ship-shape and rentable as a Pendlerwohnung. We have been working hard at it, but the results are pleasing and it has been quite therapeutic to be involved in what is taking shape. We could have got the builders in to do it, but it has proven to be a fun project for us all, as we are all of an age where even if we were not trained as handymen we have certain things we are quite good at, and had we picked up workers from Triesterstrasse for a day, we would have probably not had nearly as much fun.

One of our crew, a master in opening up boxes of flat packed furniture and building it, also had the presence of mind to magic up a list of nearby cafés and restaurants and bakeries and a supermarket. Each day we have gone to have a coffee break and sit out at a café or Beisl in the Schanigarten, but this coming week, now that the rewiring is finished, we will ditch these breaks to press on faster.

Cafés, unless you actively seek places that do a quick take-out service (Anker bakery is good for this) without the drum und dran, a coffee break, in Vienna’s descent into hipsterdom has become a lengthier process than having lunch in the good old days. There is not even the brusqueness of Kaffeehäuser.

We’ve observed that the Beisl does its Mittagsmenü (soup, main course and dessert) in the same time as it takes for the typical barista-run coffee shop to serve a round of coffees and cakes. And all that without recourse to Edison-style light bulbs, coffee cups made of recycled coffee grinds, even though their coffee machines are pantheons of chrome, with milk foamers and all the whizzbang features that a hipster barista requires to surely speed up the process.

The baristas seem not to have got the memo that facial hair is retreating after 2016’s high beard mark. Whereas men’s grooming might have not been an issue at barista school in the past, I suspect that it might now be a compulsory module along with tattoo design, since many sport a wide range of tattoos, many of which cost a lot of shifts’ wages even if in cases their designs verge on the infantile.

However, such coffee emporia have at least banished the spectre of rickety Thonet-Sesseln and other death-trap chairs. Despite all their electronic tills, receipts and taking orders using an App, they also seem unable to allow card payments, in one instance claiming that it was too expensive to have for small amounts that people typically pay, but I can’t see that flying when you now only have shrapnel change from a tenner when buying coffee and a cake. Yes indeed, over ATS 100 for a coffee and a cake per head.

We picked up a EUR 15 kettle and an old filter coffee machine for the kitchen in the flat and our improvised Teeküche means mugs of coffee and tea on demand and not the loss in productivity for downing tools. With a bit of luck and elbow grease, we’ll be finished by the end of this week (our crack squad of retired and semi-retired ready to give it the full five day week this week to get it done, and the flat will be ready for a tenant at the start of July. At the end of the project we’re all out for a steak dinner, as if anything tempers haven’t frayed and we’ve enjoyed the mucking in together to get the project done. And we have another little project in the offing – a Hochbett-cum-Mezzanine conversion for a Garconniere, but that will be something for June.

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