Viennese coffee house culture

Coffee houses and cafés can be found in every city. However, no city in the world is as closely associated with coffee as our beautiful Vienna! The traditional coffee houses exude an incomparable charm and are an important part of the Vienna experience.

However, very few people visit the time-honoured cafés exclusively for the coffee. People spend time in the coffeehouse to meet up with loved ones, to chat and to bring each other up to date with the latest happenings.

The coffee house must be "experienced". It was described by writer Stefan Zweig as an "institution of a special kind that cannot be compared with any similar one in the world". And he is right: there has always been a very special atmosphere in the coffee house. 

Vienna's coffee house culture is full of history and an important part of Vienna, which is why UNESCO declared it an intangible cultural heritage in 2011.

A look back

In the 19th century, Vienna was the capital of coffee; after all, there were already 600 coffee houses in 1900.

The secret of Vienna's success was to add sugar and milk to the coffee. The coffee house owners did not use the ready-made coffee grounds of the time, but roasted their own and produced their own blends. They therefore proudly called themselves "coffee setters", and this is still how Viennese coffee house owners refer to themselves today.

In the early days of coffee houses, there were already different ways of preparing coffee, but at that time there was no talk of "Melange", "Fiaker" or "Verlängerter". The exclusively male coffee house visitors could order their coffee with the help of a colour palette and have it prepared individually. Viennese women were not admitted to the coffee house until 1856.

The proverbial Viennese coffee house culture began at the end of the 19th century and lasted until the first third of the 20th century. Even today, the old coffeehouse culture is still lived in Vienna: the furnishings are often the same as they were back then, Thonet chairs at marble tables, softly upholstered velvet and large mirrors so that you can secretly watch the other guests. There are still newspapers from all over the world and sometimes pool tables.

Traditional Viennese Coffee Houses

Experience the real Viennese coffee house culture! It's about more than coffee, it's about an attitude to life. Immerse yourself in the old Viennese world of melange, cake and living history. Welcome to the Viennese coffee house.

Café Frauenhuber

A Mr. Kasimir bought the coffee house in 1840, later around 1849 it came into the possession of a Mr. Anton Sagorz, who had it remodelled around this time. At that time the coffee house was called Kaffeehaus Herzog, but since 1891 it has been known as Café Frauenhuber until today. From 1824 onwards, people liked to meet here for a game of chess and also an eggnog. Read more

Café Sacher

In 1832, the 16-year-old baker's apprentice Franz Sacher was commissioned by Prince von Metternich to bake a special cake for his guests. This was the beginning of the triumphal procession of the famous cake, which you have to try. The original Sacher Torte is still considered Vienna's unofficial landmark today. Read more

Café Sperl

In 1880 the coffee house was built to designs by the Ringstrasse architects Gross and Jelinek, commissioned by Jakob Ronacher, then the Café Ronacher was taken over by the Sperl family. In 1884 Adolf Kratochwilla continued to run the establishment, but retained the now familiar name "Café Sperl". The Sperl transports you into the world of old Vienna. On Sundays, the cake is served to the accompaniment of live piano music. Read more

Café Central

Leon Trotsky, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Polgar, Stefan Zweig, Peter Altenberg, Adolf Loos and many more stopped off at Café Central. Over coffee, cake and a cigar or two, Vienna's greatest poets, thinkers and other important personalities were united here in this most beautiful of coffee houses. Read more

Café Prückel

In this magnificent building near the Stubentor, the former European cycling champion Lurion founded Café Lurion, today's Prückel, which at the time was the usual U-shaped café. To this day, Café Prückel is one of Vienna's best-known coffee houses. In the back of the café, many details of the 1950s furnishings are still preserved, including a perforated reading lamp in the shape of a pointed cone. Read more

Café Landtmann

In 1873, Franz Landtmann did not intend to open just any coffee house, he wanted it to be the most elegant coffee house in Vienna, and he succeeded brilliantly. Today, you can still enjoy coffee and cake here on original Thonet chairs from the imperial era or in a cosy listed seating box, while looking at the many historic intensive artworks on the walls and mirrors from the 1920s. Read more

Café Hawelka

Café Hawelka in Vienna's 1st district represents one of the last great Central European traditions of literary and artistic coffee houses. Today it is still run by the Hawelka family, as Leopold Hawelka and his wife Josefine once did 80 years ago when they opened the café. Late in the evening, the famous Buchteln are served. Read more

Viennese coffee lexicon

In Austria, you don't just order coffee, but ...

In Austria you are spoilt for choice when it comes to coffee...

  • Mocha
    Black coffee without milk and sugar, usually from an espresso machine.
  • Small brown
    Simple mocha with milk and cream in a small bowl, the milk is served separately in a porcelain pot.
  • Large brown
    Double mocha with cream in a large bowl, if desired
  • Single mocha
    Small mocha in a glass with a lot of whipped cream
  • Fiaker
    Large mocha in a glass with lots of sugar and a stamperl (shot glass) of slivovitz or rum
  • Coffee in a mug
    Filter coffee in a mug (larger cup with handle) with a high milk content
  • Melange
    Half coffee, half milk
  • Viennese Melange
    Melange with foamed milk served in a glass
  • Small black coffee (also called small mocha)
    Simple mocha without cream in a small bowl
  • Large black coffee (also large mocha)
    Double mocha without cream in a large bowl
  • Extended (international: Americano)
    A small black coffee extended with the same amount of hot water.

Vienna's coffee houses of today

The Viennese coffee house is still booming. Instead of being able to make cheap phone calls, as in the past, free WLAN is often offered today. In addition to classical music, modern DJ sound can now be heard. Viennese electronic artists have coined the worldwide known term "coffee table music" with their melancholic-groovy sounds.

Following the American model, today large sofas and often self-service offer coffee house ambience. People still long for a little breather and pause with a cosy cup of coffee.

The unique atmosphere of the Viennese coffee house still represents a basic need for people of all ages.


In a minimalist ambience in the 7th district, only the best beans from selected roasters are processed into coffee in the cup. Read more


Directly traded coffee from their own roasting is offered here - also decaffeinated. The small, cleanly designed coffee bar in the 4th district offers only a few seats, but plenty of space for individual advice. Read more

Kaffeebar Balthasar

The coffee on offer ranges from espresso to various filter methods to cold brews and iced coffee variations. The bright coffee bar in the 2nd district is worth a visit for the coffee preparation in the Marzocco machine alone. Read more

Jonas Reindl

The coffee beans are carefully selected, roasted and brewed here - the variety is impressive, as is the taste! Different coffee varieties from the in-house roastery in a cosy atmosphere. In the 7th and 9th district. Read more

J. Hornig

At J. Hornig, everything revolves around the most modern coffee experience for coffee lovers. The coffee roastery from Graz, with its modernly designed branch in the 7th district, works with a wide variety of brewing methods.. Read more


At CaffèCouture, coffee specialities of the highest quality are prepared for coffee lovers who enjoy variety and want to experience something new. An award-winning barista and a business economist also serve coffee cocktails at Palais Ferstel and in the 9th district.. Read more

At night in the coffee house

For night owls who would like to go to a coffee house at night, Austria's capital naturally also has a lot to offer:

Café Korb (until 00:00 Uhr)

"If you don't know the Korb, you don't know Vienna", they say. The trendy meeting place with art lounge in the cellar impresses with the interesting history of the Korb family and, of course, with the culinary offer. Read more

Café Engländer (until 1:00 Uhr)

The classic but modernly styled coffee house with Viennese cuisine was for a long time litteraly the living room of Peter Sloterdijk, Franz West and other illustrious figures. Café Engländer is also a popular meeting place for newspaper readers and night owls. Read more

Kleines Café (until 2:00 Uhr)

This cosy little café on the picturesque Franziskanerplatz offers delicious traditional Viennese cuisine and, of course, coffee in just a few square metres. You can make yourself comfortable with this in the permanent Schanigarten. Read more

Kaffee Alt Wien (until 2:00 Uhr)

Kaffee Alt Wien is the artists' meeting place and night café with a "Beisl" atmosphere, where schnapps is served in Achterl glasses. Due to the opening hours, the many posters on the walls and the dim lighting, the boundaries between traditional coffee house, Beisl and restaurant are blurred. Read more

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