Tak is the Turkish bakery/grab-n-go right down the street from the hostile youth hostel. The coffee sucks. It is made from a big espresso machine with Illy coffee, but it still sucks. I would describe the taste as somewhere between bitter, sour, and irrelevant. If you are looking for a deep personal connection with your coffee, keep walking.
But what if you aren’t?
What if you are there because the hostile hostel’s coffee is even worse? What if you are there because you are en route to Westbahnhof, the wind is blowing through your coat, sweater, and skin, directly piercing your liver? What if you really need something fiery hot to warm you up inside?
Because warm insides on cold days count for a lot more than fancy brews and snobby baristas. In fact, a hundred steps into my frozen wasteland odyssey I was ready to fall down on my knees in gratitude for any coffee at all, much less coffee with a smile.
Vienna is coffee rich but smile poor. It’s bad form to smile at strangers. No one understands why you are happy or why you are happy at them. Keep your fuggin’ happiness to yourself, mister. I was advised by a Vienna native not to smile at people because it is the mark of an insane person, so to test it out one morning I was sitting in the Cafe Ritter and a woman walked by. We made eye contact. I didn’t exactly smile, but I slightly turned up the corners of my mouth to express something more positive than loathing. She jerked her eyes away and strode brusquely by.
The coffee at Bakery Tak doesn’t come with a smile automatically, you have to ask for it. The Turkish people who run the place know well the rules of Austria, that smiling is forbidden, but within their own world they smile aplenty. The first cup of coffee I got, I was treated to a stony look, stony service. I didn’t care because it only cost two euros and it was so cold. At the end of the transaction, though, the part where the lady wanted to know whether I wanted sugar in my cappuccino, I smiled. “No, thank you,” I said.
She flashed a big smile back as if to say “Aha, he’s not one of them.”
The coffee was hot and it warmed me up, toasting my innards and my hands as I pushed out onto the street. But the Turkish lady’d smile left me even warmer.
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