They were inspired by Biffi to set the espresso machines up “the other way around.” In Italy, the machines traditionally face the guests, but not so at Biffi and, therefore, not in Café Arabia and other Austrian coffee houses. Haerdtl describes the toilet facilities there as “particularly pretty” and recommends that Emig take a look at them: “You will be surprised at how beautifully they are equipped.” Today, unfortunately, all of that charm has been lost.
In Le Tre Gazzelle, the special feature Haerdtl emphasized was that the “coffee brewer serves the beverages himself, that is, without intermediary staff” – today guests are served ice cream variations at their seats.
The letter ended in November 1950 with the following sentences: “I would recommend that you put this down in writing straight away. I would forget almost everything if I didn't write it down.” None of these notes exist today – or Ewald Emig simply memorized everything and explored and enjoyed the Milan bars without taking notes. In any case, a good portion of Italianità was imported to Vienna with Café Arabia – and you can see it for yourself at the exhibition “Espresso at last! The Café Arabia on Kohlmarkt.”
Sabine Apostolo, Michael Freund, eds., Espresso at last! The Café Arabia on Kohlmarkt. Vienna 2022.
Adolph Stiller, ed., Oswald Haerdtl: Architekt und Designer, 1899-1959. Salzburg 2000.