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Saturday, 8 December, 2001, 13:04 GMT
Viennese in a froth over Starbucks
Starbucks' first branch in Vienna
Vienna's first Starbucks: no-smoking allowed
The American coffee chain Starbucks has opened its first branch in Vienna, the historic heartland of European coffee culture.

But it is not clear how keen the city's coffee drinkers will be to swap a traditional brew in one of the city's famous coffee houses for a caramel macchiato to go, served in a paper cup.

I've never heard of Starbucks, but I wouldn't go to a coffee house where you can't smoke

Cosmetics worker Ulli Schiller
Vienna has prided itself on its coffee tradition ever since 1683, when Turkish soldiers laying siege to the city left behind sacks of coffee beans.

Mozart, Freud, Trotsky and Mahler are among those who have whiled away the hours over a cup of coffee in a Vienna cafe.

Guntil Hawelka, from the city's venerable 62-year-old Cafe Hawelka, told the BBC he does not think Starbucks is likely to undermine the city's existing 1,900 cafes:

"Vienna has a coffee house culture and I think they will have it a little bit difficult. The Viennese customer, when he orders a coffee, he wants a real coffee.

"If he's not getting the coffee he wants he will maybe come once, twice or three times, and then he will never come again," he said.

Local competitors

Starbucks' policy of capturing markets in new cities by opening several new branches close to each other has made the chain a target for anti-globalisation protesters, who say it chokes out smaller local competitors.

But Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz said this was not the plan in Vienna:

"We will coexist in a way with traditional coffeehouses so that both will succeed," he said.

Cafe on Viennese street
Vienna has been brewing coffee since 1683
The new Starbucks cafe, in a prime location opposite the Vienna State Opera House, also breaks with the city's traditions by offering a non-smoking environment.

"I've never heard of Starbucks, but I wouldn't go to a coffee house where you can't smoke," said cosmetics worker Ulli Schiller, 38.

"And I wouldn't order a coffee to go in a paper cup, because I want to enjoy coffee where it's cozy."

'David and Goliath'

The Seattle-based company, which operates nearly 5,000 franchises in almost 30 countries, is planning up to 14 more shops in Austria over the next 18 months.

Other American-style coffee enterprises serving similar fare to Starbucks' bagels, brownies and flavoured coffees, may also be under threat.

One such is the Coffeeshop Company, located around the corner from the new branch of Starbucks.

"We are like David to their Goliath," said part-time worker Iris Schaerf, whose uncle founded the shop.

"But we're not afraid because we have better coffee."

See also:

04 Jul 01 | Business
Starbucks targets Viennese market
24 Dec 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
Vienna and coffee: A love affair
17 Sep 98 | The Company File
Starbucks storms into UK
01 May 01 | UK
What is anti-globalisation?
07 Nov 00 | Business
The limits of globalisation
16 May 01 | Business
Coffee farmers 'face destitution'
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