My drink of choice is coffee. In fact, I love it so much that my morning joe is usually the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep at night. Italy has changed my coffee and breakfast habits for the better, and, as a result, I’m all the better for it. So, needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get my Vienna coffee house on during my recent Vienna travels.
Vienna coffee houses are cultural institutions so epic that UNESCO protects them. They served as living rooms of sorts for locals since the seventeenth century. If their walls could talk they’d tell stories of patrons, many of whom were notable luminaries, playing games, eating, imbibing, conversing and just being. No visit to Vienna is complete without visiting one of them, and I should note that an old soul like myself could pass away the day here reading, writing, people watching, daydreaming and, of course, drinking coffee and eating.
If I’m not starting my day with Nespresso, I begin with a cappuccino so it would seem fitting to start my day in the Austrian capital with a Melange, the Viennese coffee most similar to a cappuccino. However, I wanted to sip something slightly different, in those three days, I grew quite fond of the Franziskaner. Translating to “Franciscan monk”, the Franziskaner is like a melange but topped with whipped cream instead of foam. I also enjoyed the occasional Einspänner, named after the city’s traditional nineteenth-century single horse carriages, which is two shots of espresso and lots of whipped cream. Additionally, I grew quite smitten with the Café Maria Theresia, which contains a shot of orange liquor made from Schönbrunn Palace’s oranges, a liquor that was a favorite of the drink’s namesake empress. Since coffee dehydrates, water is always served alongside it to make up for the lost water.
Wanna know something cool? Our dear cappuccino can be traced back to the Kapuziner, a drink offered at Austrian coffee houses as far back as the seventeenth century. The drink eventually found its way to all countries ruled by the Habsburg monarchy, which included parts of Northern Italy, and evolved into the version we all know and love today.
I put together this round-up of six of the best Vienna coffee houses for Musement, and I owe big thanks to those who were kind enough to tip me off to some of Vienna’s best: Hande, Oded, Coral, Zach and last, but not least, Lukas of Food Tours Vienna.