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Coffee Culture In Vienna


by Biddie Hight



Welcome to the world of food travel enthusiasts and coffee lovers! If you are someone who enjoys exploring different cultures through their culinary traditions, then Vienna should be at the top of your travel list. While there are many reasons to visit this historic city, one aspect that stands out is its long-standing love affair with coffee. Vienna not only boasts a rich coffee history but also offers a vibrant café culture that continues to charm both locals and tourists.


Vienna’s coffee culture dates back centuries, with the first coffeehouses opening their doors in the late 17th century. Since then, coffee has become an intrinsic part of Viennese life. The city is dotted with charming coffeehouses that have stood the test of time, serving as hubs for socializing, intellectual discourse, and simply enjoying a good cup of joe.


Stepping into a Viennese coffeehouse is like stepping back in time, as many establishments have preserved the elegant and opulent décor reminiscent of the 19th and early 20th centuries. These coffeehouses exude a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, making them the perfect place to relax, unwind, and soak in the local culture.


Whether you’re a connoisseur in search of the perfect brew, a history enthusiast eager to learn about Vienna’s coffee traditions, or simply someone who enjoys a good cup of coffee and a sweet treat, this guide will take you on a virtual journey through Vienna’s coffee scene. From exploring famous coffee houses to understanding traditional coffee house etiquette, we’ll delve into the delightful world of Viennese coffee and help you navigate the city’s coffee culture with ease.


So grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s embark on a virtual tour of Vienna’s coffeehouses. Get ready to indulge in the rich flavors, charming ambience, and delectable treats that await you in this coffee lover’s paradise. Vienna will surely capture your heart, one cup of coffee at a time!


The Historic Love for Coffee in Vienna

Vienna’s love affair with coffee can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire’s failed siege of the city in 1683. Among the spoils left behind by the retreating Ottoman army were bags of coffee beans. These beans captured the attention of the Viennese, who quickly embraced this intriguing new beverage. The first coffeehouse in Vienna, known as The Blue Bottle, opened its doors in 1685, marking the beginning of a caffeine-fueled revolution in the city.


From its humble beginnings, the Viennese coffeehouse culture flourished and became an integral part of social and intellectual life. Coffeehouses quickly became gathering places for artists, writers, musicians, and philosophers. These venues provided a space for deep conversations, the exchange of ideas, and the sharing of creative works. Some of the greatest minds in history, including Sigmund Freud, Johann Strauss, and Gustav Klimt, frequented Viennese coffeehouses, leaving behind a rich legacy of intellectual discourse and cultural significance.


The Viennese take great pride in their coffee and have developed their own unique coffee brewing techniques and traditions. One such tradition is the Melange, the classic Viennese coffee. It consists of a shot of espresso mixed with steamed milk and topped with a dollop of froth. Served in a glass cup, the Melange is the epitome of Viennese coffee culture.


Vienna’s love for coffee extends beyond the walls of the coffeehouses. The city boasts a thriving coffee trade, with coffee roasters carefully selecting and roasting beans to create exceptional blends. Viennese coffee is known for being rich, flavorful, and aromatic.


To this day, coffee remains a beloved beverage in Vienna, and the city continues to embrace and celebrate its coffee culture. A visit to Vienna is incomplete without indulging in a cup of rich Viennese coffee and immersing yourself in the city’s historic love for this magical brew.


Café Culture in Vienna

Café culture is deeply ingrained in the fabric of Viennese society. It goes beyond simply enjoying a cup of coffee; it is a way of life. Viennese coffeehouses are more than just places to grab a quick caffeine fix – they are destinations where people gather to socialize, relax, work, and indulge in the finer things in life.


Viennese coffeehouses are renowned for their unique ambiance and timeless charm. As soon as you step foot into one, you are transported to a bygone era. The elegant interiors, with their plush seating, marble-topped tables, and chandeliers, evoke a sense of grandeur and sophistication.


This rich atmosphere invites people from all walks of life to linger, immersed in conversation or lost in their thoughts. It’s not uncommon to see a group of friends engaged in lively discussions or an individual engrossed in a book or working on a laptop, all while savoring a cup of coffee. In fact, Viennese coffeehouses have a long-standing tradition of providing newspapers for patrons to read and engage in intellectual discourse.


One of the hallmarks of café culture in Vienna is the concept of Gemütlichkeit, a word that loosely translates to coziness, comfort, and a warm atmosphere. The Viennese take great pride in their ability to create an ambiance that fosters relaxation and a sense of well-being.


When it comes to service, Viennese coffeehouses stand out for their attentiveness and professionalism. The waitstaff, often dressed in traditional attire, are friendly, knowledgeable, and dedicated to ensuring that your coffee experience is nothing short of excellent. Whether it’s recommending the perfect coffee blend or suggesting a delectable pastry to accompany your brew, they are experts in creating a memorable coffeehouse experience.


Furthermore, café culture in Vienna extends beyond the walls of the coffeehouses themselves. In warmer months, many coffeehouses offer outdoor seating, allowing patrons to enjoy their coffee and soak up the vibrant Vienna atmosphere. This practice of sitting outdoors and people-watching has become an integral part of the café culture experience.


Vienna’s café culture is so cherished that it was included on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2011. This recognition highlights the cultural significance and unique qualities of Viennese coffeehouses and their contribution to society.


So, if you find yourself in Vienna, be sure to embrace the café culture and immerse yourself in the timeless allure of Viennese coffeehouses. Relax, indulge, and let the magic of this cultural phenomenon envelop you.


Famous Viennese Coffee Houses

Vienna is renowned for its exquisite coffee houses, each with its own unique charm and history. These establishments have played a vital role in shaping Vienna’s cultural scene and continue to be beloved meeting places for both locals and visitors. Here are some of the most famous Viennese coffee houses that you should not miss during your visit:

  1. Café Central: Situated in the heart of Vienna, Café Central is an institution that has attracted both famous personalities and intellectuals throughout history. It was frequented by the likes of Sigmund Freud, Leo Trotsky, and many others who sought intellectual discourse in its elegant halls.
  2. Café Sacher: Known for its legendary Sacher Torte, Café Sacher is a must-visit for any coffee and chocolate lover. This historic coffee house has a refined atmosphere and offers a delectable selection of pastries and Viennese specialties.
  3. Demel: With over 200 years of history, Demel is one of Vienna’s oldest and most prestigious coffee houses. It is famous for its exquisite cakes and pastries, often displayed in dazzling showcases that showcase the craftsmanship of the pastry chefs.
  4. Café Hawelka: A true Viennese institution, Café Hawelka has been a meeting point for artists, writers, and musicians since the 1930s. Its rustic interior and laid-back atmosphere make it a perfect place to immerse yourself in the bohemian side of Vienna.
  5. Café Landtmann: Situated opposite the historic Burgtheater, Café Landtmann is a popular spot for theater-goers and politicians alike. It exudes an old-world charm and offers a wide variety of coffee specialties and traditional Viennese desserts.

These are just a few examples of the many exceptional coffee houses that grace the streets of Vienna. Each one has its own story to tell and has contributed to the rich coffee culture that thrives in the city. Whether you are seeking history, ambiance, or simply a delicious cup of coffee, these famous Viennese coffee houses are sure to leave a lasting impression.


Traditional Coffee House Etiquette

When visiting a traditional Viennese coffee house, it’s important to be aware of the etiquette and customs that have been upheld for generations. Following these traditions not only adds to the authentic experience but also shows respect for the cultural heritage associated with Viennese coffee culture. Here are some key points of traditional coffee house etiquette to keep in mind:

  1. Seating: Upon entering a coffee house, wait to be seated by the staff. It is common for customers to be seated at shared tables, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting alongside strangers. This offers an opportunity to interact with locals and engage in stimulating conversation.
  2. Ordering: Once seated, a waiter will approach your table to take your order. Take your time and peruse the extensive menu, which often features a wide variety of coffee specialties and tempting pastries. Be prepared to give your order, including any preferences or modifications, with clarity and confidence.
  3. Patience: Viennese coffee houses are known for providing a relaxed and unhurried experience. It’s customary to take your time enjoying your coffee and savoring the atmosphere. Don’t rush through your visit; instead, embrace the unhurried pace and appreciate the moment.
  4. Newspapers: Many coffee houses offer a selection of newspapers and magazines for guests to peruse. Feel free to read and enjoy the publications available at your table, but remember to treat them with care and return them before leaving.
  5. Payment: When ready to settle the bill, notify the waiter and wait patiently for them to come to your table. Payment is usually made at the table, and it’s customary to tip the waitstaff, typically around 10% of the total bill.
  6. Conversation: Viennese coffee houses have long been a hub for intellectual discussions and social interactions. Engaging in respectful and meaningful conversations with fellow patrons is encouraged and adds to the convivial atmosphere of the establishment.
  7. Relaxation: One of the main purposes of visiting a traditional Viennese coffee house is to relax and unwind. Embrace the ambiance, take a moment to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and revel in the tranquility of your surroundings.

By adhering to these traditional coffee house etiquettes, you can fully immerse yourself in the authentic experience of Viennese coffee culture. Remember, the primary goal is to enjoy your coffee, engage in stimulating conversations, and embrace the timeless traditions that have made Vienna’s coffee houses legendary.


Types of Coffee in Vienna

Vienna is a city that takes its coffee seriously, offering a variety of delightful and unique coffee specialties. Whether you prefer a strong espresso or a creamy concoction, there is a coffee drink to suit every taste. Here are some of the popular types of coffee you can enjoy in Vienna:

  1. Melange: The Melange is the quintessential Viennese coffee. It is made by combining a shot of espresso with steamed milk and a dollop of froth. Served in a glass cup, the Melange strikes the perfect balance between rich coffee flavor and creamy texture.
  2. Einspänner: The Einspänner is a strong black coffee served in a small glass cup, topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. This indulgent drink is a favorite among coffee purists who enjoy a powerful caffeine kick coupled with velvety smoothness.
  3. Verlängerter: The Verlängerter is a variation of the classic Melange. It consists of an espresso shot diluted with hot water, resulting in a milder flavor. Served in a large cup, it is the perfect choice for those who prefer a larger serving of coffee.
  4. Brauner: The Brauner is a simple yet satisfying coffee made with a shot of espresso and a side of warm milk. It is served in two separate cups, allowing the drinker to customize the coffee-to-milk ratio according to their preference.
  5. Kleiner Schwarzer: As the name suggests, the Kleiner Schwarzer, or “small black,” is a straightforward and intense espresso. Served in a small cup, it’s the ideal choice for those who appreciate the full-bodied flavor and aroma of a concentrated shot of coffee.
  6. Mocha: The Mocha is a delightful combination of coffee and hot chocolate. It features a shot of espresso blended with rich, velvety chocolate, creating a luscious and indulgent beverage that satisfies both coffee and chocolate cravings.
  7. Pharisäer: For those who enjoy their coffee with a little kick, the Pharisäer is the perfect choice. It consists of black coffee, rum, whipped cream, and a dusting of chocolate or cocoa powder. This boozy coffee cocktail is a true treat for the senses.

These are just a few examples of the numerous coffee specialties available in Vienna. Whichever coffee you choose, it’s important to savor the moment, appreciate the craftsmanship behind each cup, and let the flavors transport you into the enchanting world of Viennese coffee culture.


Pastry Delights for Coffee Lovers

No coffee experience in Vienna is complete without indulging in the delectable pastries that accompany your cup of joe. Vienna’s coffeehouses are famous for their irresistible selection of pastries and desserts, each one crafted to perfection and designed to enhance the flavors of your coffee. Here are some of the delightful pastry treats that every coffee lover should try:

  1. Sachertorte: The Sachertorte is a world-famous Viennese chocolate cake that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee. It consists of layers of dense chocolate cake, gently spread with apricot jam, and covered in a smooth, glossy chocolate glaze. The rich, bittersweet flavors of the cake complement the coffee beautifully.
  2. Apfelstrudel: A classic Viennese pastry, Apfelstrudel is a delight for both the eyes and the taste buds. This thin, flaky pastry is filled with warm, sweetened apple slices, raisins, and cinnamon. The combination of the buttery pastry and tender apple filling creates a heavenly treat when enjoyed alongside a hot cup of coffee.
  3. Linzer Torte: Dating back to the 17th century, the Linzer Torte is another beloved Viennese pastry. It features a buttery nut-based crust filled with a layer of tangy raspberry jam. The crumbly texture and fruity sweetness of the torte perfectly complement the robust flavors of coffee.
  4. Kaiserschmarrn: Kaiserschmarrn is a light and fluffy shredded pancake that is typically served as a dessert. It is sprinkled with powdered sugar and often accompanied by a fruity compote. This sweet treat pairs wonderfully with coffee, providing a delightful combination of flavors and textures.
  5. Strawberry Esterházy Cake: This elegant layer cake is a showstopper in both presentation and taste. Thin layers of sponge cake are filled with a luscious strawberry cream and topped with a decorative lattice design made from a lightly sweetened buttercream. With its delicate flavors, the Esterházy Cake is a delightful companion to a cup of Vienna’s finest coffee.

These are just a few examples of the many pastry delights that await you in Vienna. Each bite of these mouthwatering treats, coupled with a sip of coffee, creates a symphony of flavors that will leave you craving for more. So, take the time to indulge your senses and treat yourself to the heavenly combination of Viennese coffee and pastries.


Vienna’s Coffee Museum

For coffee enthusiasts seeking a deeper understanding of Vienna’s rich coffee culture and history, a visit to Vienna’s Coffee Museum is a must. Located in the heart of the city, this fascinating museum offers a comprehensive exploration of the traditions, rituals, and craftsmanship behind Viennese coffee.


The Vienna Coffee Museum provides a glimpse into the origins of coffee, its journey to Vienna, and its subsequent influence on the city’s culture. The museum showcases a vast collection of artifacts, including antique coffee grinders, brewing equipment, historical photographs, and archival documents, all of which paint a vivid picture of coffee’s significance throughout the ages.


Visitors can learn about the techniques and processes involved in coffee production, from the cultivation of coffee beans to the art of coffee roasting and brewing. The museum provides interactive displays, allowing guests to engage with coffee-related activities and gain hands-on experience in various aspects of coffee preparation.


As you explore the museum, you will also have the opportunity to appreciate the evolution of Vienna’s coffeehouse culture. From the elaborate coffeehouses of the 19th century to the modern-day interpretations, you can witness how Vienna’s coffee culture has adapted to changing times while retaining its timeless charm.


One of the highlights of the Coffee Museum is the tasting room, where visitors can sample different coffee blends and experience the distinct flavors and aromas associated with Vienna’s coffee tradition. Expert baristas are on hand to guide visitors through the tasting process, educating them about the nuances of different coffee varieties and brewing methods.


In addition to its permanent exhibits, the Vienna Coffee Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, and special events related to coffee. These events offer unique opportunities to delve deeper into topics such as latte art, coffee bean origins, or the chemistry of coffee brewing. Check the museum’s schedule to see if there are any special events happening during your visit.


Visiting the Vienna Coffee Museum is not only a journey through the history and culture of coffee but also a chance to celebrate the artistry and passion that goes into each cup. The museum’s captivating displays, interactive exhibits, and flavorful tastings make it a must-visit destination for coffee aficionados and anyone seeking a deeper appreciation for Vienna’s coffee heritage.


Coffee-Related Events in Vienna

Vienna is not just home to a thriving coffee culture, but it also hosts a variety of coffee-related events throughout the year. These events offer opportunities to celebrate the love for coffee, explore new trends in the industry, and connect with fellow coffee enthusiasts. Here are some coffee-related events you can look forward to in Vienna:

  1. Vienna Coffee Festival: Held annually, the Vienna Coffee Festival is a celebration of all things coffee. This three-day event brings together coffee roasters, baristas, and coffee lovers from around the world. Visitors can sample an array of specialty coffees, attend coffee brewing workshops, and learn from the experts in the field. The festival also features live music, art exhibitions, and food stalls to complement the coffee experience.
  2. Coffee Conferences and Seminars: Vienna plays host to various coffee conferences and seminars, where professionals in the industry gather to discuss the latest trends, innovations, and challenges in the coffee world. These events provide valuable insights into the global coffee industry and offer networking opportunities for coffee professionals and enthusiasts alike.
  3. Barista Championships: Vienna is frequently chosen as the venue for national and international barista championships. These events bring together highly skilled baristas who showcase their craft, creativity, and technical expertise in creating the perfect cup of coffee. Watching these talented individuals compete for the title can be both exhilarating and educational for coffee enthusiasts.
  4. Coffee Workshops and Tastings: Many coffee shops and roasters in Vienna offer workshops and tastings for those wanting to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of coffee. These sessions provide insights into coffee brewing techniques, latte art, coffee cupping, and more. It’s a chance to learn from experts in a hands-on setting and explore the nuances of different coffee flavors and preparations.
  5. Coffee-themed Exhibitions: Vienna’s museums occasionally feature exhibitions that pay homage to coffee. These exhibitions explore the history, cultural significance, and artistic representations of coffee. Through artifacts, paintings, and interactive displays, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of Vienna’s love affair with coffee.

Attending these coffee-related events not only allows you to expand your knowledge and passion for coffee but also immerses you in the vibrant coffee community of Vienna. It’s an opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals, discover new flavors and techniques, and embrace the coffee culture that permeates the city.



Vienna, with its historic love for coffee, vibrant café culture, and exquisite pastries, is truly a paradise for food travel enthusiasts and coffee lovers alike. Exploring the city’s coffee scene and immersing oneself in the rich traditions and rituals is an experience that simply cannot be missed.


The coffeehouses of Vienna are not just places to indulge in a cup of joe; they are cultural institutions where history, creativity, and intellectual discourse converge. From the opulent interiors to the attentive service, every aspect of the Viennese coffeehouse experience is designed to create an atmosphere of relaxation, inspiration, and connection.


As you navigate the city’s coffee houses, you’ll have the opportunity to sample an array of unique coffee specialties that reflect the city’s rich coffee heritage. The Melange, Einspänner, and other traditional Viennese coffee drinks offer a symphony of flavors that perfectly complement the city’s charming ambiance.


Of course, no coffee experience in Vienna is complete without indulging in the delectable pastries that accompany your cup of joe. From Sachertorte to Apfelstrudel, the pastries of Vienna are crafted with precision and love, elevating the coffee experience to new heights.


For those seeking a deeper understanding of Vienna’s coffee tradition, a visit to the Coffee Museum will provide a journey through the history and culture of coffee. Engaging with interactive exhibits, tasting different coffee blends, and learning about the techniques involved in coffee production will deepen your appreciation for this beloved beverage.


Furthermore, Vienna offers numerous coffee-related events throughout the year, from festivals and conferences to workshops and tastings. These events provide opportunities to connect with coffee enthusiasts and professionals, participate in educational sessions, and discover the latest trends in the coffee industry.


In conclusion, a trip to Vienna is a culinary adventure that can satisfy both your love for travel and your passion for coffee. Immerse yourself in the elegant charm and rich traditions of Viennese coffee culture. Indulge in the flavors, aromas, and conversations that fill the air of Vienna’s historic coffeehouses. Let the magic of Vienna’s coffee scene captivate you, one sip at a time.