In search of a respite from the chill of Vienna, I retreat indoors into one of the city’s living rooms, the kaffehäus. For centuries these spaces have seen Vienna discuss, argue, write, compose and idle the day away over a newspaper, steaming brew and perhaps even a slice of cake. Coffeehouses in Vienna are institutions in themselves; cultural attractions where admission comes by way of a waiter in a tux. Just as Paris has its bistros and London its tearooms, Vienna has its coffeehouses. If you are visiting Vienna for the first time and in search of a hot beverage, here’s what you'll need to know about the Viennese coffeehouse tradition.
A Bit of Caffeinated History: Part of the Vienna coffeehouse experience comes through understanding a bit of the history behind these institutions. The city supposedly grew addicted to a cup of Joe after a failed Ottoman siege in 1683. When Vienna was victorious over the Turkish forces, they snatched up bags of coffee beans that the Turks had brought with them, so the story goes. The first documented coffeehouse in Vienna dates back to 1685 when a man began serving coffee out of his house. Some argue that the idea of the Viennese coffeehouse was born long before the invasion. Regardless, these spaces became cultural icons in town by the 19th century as a who’s who in Vienna and Europe would gather in them over a coffee.
The Five Star Style: After a long morning of touring Vienna in your jeans and T-shirt, you might step into a Vienna coffeehouse and think you are a tad under dressed. While some coffeehouse still boast the original style of being a dark and somewhat gloomy place, many look more like palaces today. You won’t be hard press to find one of these institutions with marble pillars, glittering chandeliers and furniture more fitting for a museum exhibit than a coffeehouse. However, this is the style of many coffeehouses in town. The waiters mostly adorn in tuxedos, harking on the Habsburg days when the coffeehouses in Vienna were spaces for the intellectual, artistic, scientific, economic, and political elite. When the Habsburg Empire fell apart, these traditions for opulence within a simple coffeehouse remained. Many feature newspapers for reading and a cozy atmosphere where a stranger could be at your table or dangerously close to it.
The Silver Trays and Treats: Most Vienna coffeehouses don’t just throw you a cup of coffee in a paper cup. Not only will your brew arrive by way of the arms of a tuxedo-clad waiter, but also it just might arrive on a silver tray. Some coffeehouses in Vienna still utilize the silver tray tradition. Your cup of coffee is served on these trays along with a little glass of water. The idea behind the water is that it refreshes the palate and brings out the delicious taste of coffee. If you order cream on the side, it will also come in miniature, usually in a small pitcher. Also, it is not uncommon to find sweet treats in Vienna’s coffeehouses. In a city that came up with the Sachertorte, you can expect the coffeehouses to have their priorities straight with sweets. Many will even serve light meals.
The Coffee and the Houses: Vienna is littered in coffeehouses throughout the old city and even in the suburbs. Some of the famous include Café Bräunerhof. The café was a favorite of novelist Thomas Bernhard. The wrinkled old newspapers and dark interiors of Café Hawelka have long attracted travelers and locals. And the literati have enjoyed a good cup and conversation at the grand Café Central. On a recent trip to Vienna, I noticed that when it comes to ordering in these spaces, the waiter generally stands at your table without a menu, waiting for your order. You can quickly sound like you know what you are doing by ordering a brauner, black espresso served with cream.
Don’t forget to ‘LIKE us’ on Facebook!
Get new posts delivered by email:
Top Travel Deals on RSS
In My Bag: Ann’s Timeless TreasureComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0
In this blog post series, I interview world travelers about objects that came home in their bags and what those objects mean to them. This week’s post features Ann Lonstein, a woman of the world and travel writer. You can read more of Ann’s work at everyjourneytraveled.wordpress.com or in her recent chapbook entitled Everything is a Journey....read more
Oops! How To Say You’re Sorry in 12 LanguagesComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0
Being a traveler can have its downfalls, like when you offend someone in another language and have no idea how to apologize. To avoid offending those as you travel or to make up for a mistake, here’s how to properly say, “I’m sorry” in 12 different languages. Manners can go a long way in any language....read more
New Distillery Tours in LouisianaComments: 1Rating: 0 / 0
Thirsty for a taste of something local in Louisiana? Two new distilleries in south Louisiana have recently started to offer tours of their facilities along with onsite tastings of their products made with Louisiana ingredients, and a third distillery is under construction with the promise of plenty more tours and tastings to come. Here's a look at this newbie trio of Lousiana distilleries bringing traditional spirit production back to the Deep South....read more
4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy You’re MissingComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0
There are plenty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy that are less visited. If you want to have a few of these wonders to yourself or even just to share with a handful of people, be sure to head to these four sites with UNESCO’s stamp of approval that aren’t as famous as the rest....read more
The 4 Apps I Use Most for Getting around LondonComments: 0Rating: 0 / 0
When visiting a new city, do you ever wonder what apps the locals use to get around? Here's a look at four apps that I use most often when moving around London. All are available to download for free....read more
California: CST #2090295-40, Nevada: SOT #2007-0081, Iowa: SOT #883, Washington: SOT #6027859380010001
Some of the content posted herein are the views and opinions of the individual blogger's and do not represent the views and opinions of OneTravel. It may be the case that OneTravel is partnering with a particular travel supplier mentioned in a blog post, however, all views and opinions expressed herein by parties other then OneTravel are by the respective bloggers.
© 2014 W K Travel, Inc. All rights reserved. Copyright for all material appearing on this website is owned by W K Travel, Inc. Persons accessing this website are authorized to view and print material from this website for information purposes only. Any other use of this material is restricted to non-commercial purposes and must include this copyright notice.
W K Travel Inc. owns the following Trademarks and Servicemarks appearing on this website:
OneTravel, OneTravel.com, and 1Travel. Trademarks and servicemarks for all other products and services appearing on this website are the trademarks and servicemarks of their respective owners.