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Viennese coffee culture

Have you ever had a coffee in Austria?

Drinking coffee and going to a café there is an art.

It is the Turks who brought coffee to Vienna in the 17th century. It happened when the Polish/Hapsburg army pushed the Turks away from Vienna in 1683.

The new drink was right away very well accepted by the emperor Leopold I. Two years later in 1685, opened the first coffee place in the capital.

Drinking coffee and eating a strawberry choloate cone at café Landtmann
Drinking coffee and eating a strawberry chocolate cone at café Landtmann

When the monarchy fell and moreover with World War II, the popularity of the coffee places diminished. By the 1950’s there were almost no more Kaffeehauser in Vienna. Fortunately for coffee lovers, it looks like it is coming back. Vienna has now places in the old city and around in the other districts. Depending on the café one can either listen to piano music, eat ice creams, pastries or just check emails.

In Austria a coffee has to be drunk sitting down. If Vienna has espresso bars like in Italy, it is more common to sit down than to stand. Enjoying a coffee is done while reading a book or a newspaper or talking or observing others.

One can take time and no one is looked at funny if he or she stays at the same place for hours  with only ordering one coffee! Coffee is served with one glass of water and most of the time people like to order a piece of cake with it.

selection of cakes at Landtmann café

selection of cakes at Landtmann café

Coffee in Europe:

Before coming to Austria, coffee had arrived in Italy. The first coffee place was in Venice in 1645. It became very popular among writers, poets and artists in Europe. It was the place to gossip and exchange ideas. People such as Molière and more recently Oscar Wild, Edward Munch, Sigmund Freud, Salvador Dali and Simone de Beauvoir all frequented the cafés.

Here are a few cafés which were once famous:

  • Café Voltaire in Zurich (1916)
  • Café Luitpold in Vienna (1911)
  • Café Les Deux Magots in Paris – Beauvoir and Sartre’s café
  • Café Stefan in Prague
  • Café Landtmann in Vienna – frequent visitors were Sigmund Freud and actress Romy Schneider

Typical Viennese coffees:

According to `Suite 101′ website there are more than 30 types of Viennese coffees.  So if you don’t like just black coffee, you will be able to ask for milk, ice cream, whipped cream, cacao powder, rum, cherry and orange liquors and much more.

  • Eiskaffee: coffee with ice cream
  • Melange or Wiener Melange: half black coffee with half milk and topped with foamy milk.

Look at the coffee carte from Landtmann. You can some of the coffee specialties.

list of coffees at café Landtmann in Vienna

list of coffees at café Landtmann in Vienna

List of coffees at café Landtmann

List of coffees at café Landtmann

Famous coffee places/Kaffeehaüser in Vienna:

  • Café Landtmann: established in 1873 – Hillary Clinton has been seen there. Where: Dr. Karl Luger Ring 4 in old town.
  • Café Sperl: since 1880 – where you can read and listen to music. Where is it: Gumpendorferstrasse 11 in the 6th district
  • Café Sacher: people go there to try the famous Sacher torte. Where is it?: Philharmonie 4 in the old town in Hotel Sacher.
  • Café Frauenhaber: Himmelpfortgasse 6-8 in the 1st district – could be the first coffee house in Vienna

Haas café near St. Stephen cathedral in Vienna
Haas café near St. Stephen cathedral in Vienna

Three places I recommend:

During my visits in Vienna I visited several coffee houses.

  • Landtmann: Dr.-Karl-Lueger Ring 4 in 1st district – great location and atmosphere

  • Demel: Kohlmarkt 14 – great choice of coffees and pastries

  • Haas Haus: Stephanplatz – cozy bar lounge facing the Stephen’s Dom and amazing building

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