Coffeehouses and McDonald’s

Cake

Cake Vitrine at McDonald’s in Wels

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Interior of Austrian Coffeehouse in Wels

Why I do not love coffee is a mystery since coffee and coffeehouses are a central part of Austrian food culture. Long before coffee and coffee varieties became more popular in the U.S. (mostly it seems because of Starbucks), Austrians have already appreciated a long afternoon coffee break and a variety of coffees. There is of course the famous Verlaengerte but also Milchkaffee, Einspaenner, Turkish Coffee, grosser Brauner, and the Italian options of Cappuccino and Espresso, and more.

In high school, we would often head to the coffeehouse after class and hang out all afternoon. Adults also value their “Kaffeerunde”, a group of people that meet regularly at the same coffeehouse to chat. Often those groups become important social networks and support groups; it is not uncommon to invite your group of those friends to your kids’ weddings and of course to your own birthday dinners with family. Some are even part of more than one group.

A lot of time is spent in coffeehouses, and even though Starbucks exists in some towns, I doubt that the company is seriously affecting local Austrian coffeehouses, some of which have existed under the same name and in the same location for decades and sometimes centuries. For example, Café Tomaselli in Salzburg is listed as Austria’s oldest “Viennese coffee house.” “The Tomaselli continues to be a stylish representative of a 300-year-old Austrian coffee-house tradition” (http://www.salzburg.info/en/shopping/long-_established_shops/cafes_and_confectionary/cafe_tomaselli ).

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Tea and Cakes at McDonald’s in Austria

Even McDonald’s has adjusted to the local food culture and in Austria offers a special station with homemade pastries and freshly ground coffee and hot tea with “fancy,” cloth tea bags – everything served with China dishes and “real” metal spoons. One can even pick up a whole cake or pie at McDonald’s if ordered the day before. I enjoy the coffee house feature of Austrian McDonald’s and was much more inclined to stop at a McDonald’s in Austria than I ever am in the U.S.

[Side note: The locals’ nickname for McDonald’s is “Macky” [spelling based on sound].

Tea Cup

Empty China Tea Cup at McDonald’s

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