Noah and I visited Vienna, Austria, recently on a business trip to central Europe. Our first order of business was to find the original Julius Meinl coffee shop, which is my favorite in Chicago.
After several missteps, we found Meinl at about 6:00 in the evening on Sunday. The only part of the store which was serving customers was the outdoor seating area. The blond fraulein who came to take our order spoke no English. She was quite pretty but she carried a near scowl on her face. I tried to order a latte, but she only understood cappuccino, so that’s what we ordered.
The coffee came promptly and it was beautifully presented with a heart artfully drawn in the foam.To the best of my tasting ability, the Viennese and American coffees tasted the same – excellent, but the attitude and the price were decidedly better at Julius Meinl in Chicago. The size of the cup was about one third smaller than the comparable American one and the price was double in American dollars. I felt like a poor American in continental Europe. Yet on the other hand it reminded me how cheap America is now, and that I need to use that to my advantage in business.