vienna is well-known for its cafes, and is still widely seen as a great place for this. so - is it great?
actually neither coffee nor cafes were invented in austria - that actually happened in ethiopia, about 500 years ago. the first coffeehouses, venues serving a cup of coffee, usually together with some biscuits, were established in mocha (around 1510), then in mekka (around 1520). other early ones were damascus (1530), cairo (1540) and istanbul (1554).
in europe, it began much later - first venice (1645), then oxford (1650), london (1652), bucharest (1667), paris (1672), hamburg (1677) - - - and finally, in 1683, in vienna.
why that? the reason is the massive attack of the ottoman (turkish) empire on vienna, the at that time core city of the "holy roman empire" in sept 1683, which had been besieged for two months (see the informative historic sketch below).
rather surprisingly, the ottoman army lost the crucial battle, and left austria in rather messy manner. vienna was free now - and all things the ottomans had left behind was investigated. this included - yes, lots of coffee beans.
now cafes were installed, many, and the "imperial" vienna soon became the top venue. features of vienna's coffee culture are: stylish venues, offering cakes in addition to coffee, provision of newspapers, and first-rate service.
many venues are large and almost majestic. upper-level places would provide music, usually played on their own piano.
the most famous one is cafe sacher - more because of their tarts than their coffee though. many cafes have an outside area as well.
historic photographs show that vienna's cafe tradition is vivid for along time.
at each of my trips to vienna - 1975, 1984, 2004, 2007 - visiting at least one of the famous cafes was certainly a 'must'.
vienna is not the "number-1-coffee-place" anymore, that may be (in my personal view) rather buenos aires or melbourne (!) or milano or santiago the chile -- but the classical culture of sitting relaxed in a well-kept venue, enjoying coffee and cake, read a newspaper, and relish a no-hurry-right-now situation is truly still there.