A LATTE LOVE: Spilling the beans on Austria’s café culture

In Vienna, don’t be surprised if your ‘quick stop for a cappuccino’ turns into hours of whiling the day away. Once you get a taste of the city’s coffeehouses, you may never want to leave.

In Vienna, don’t be surprised if your ‘quick stop for a cappuccino’ turns into hours of whiling the day away. Once you get a taste of the city’s coffeehouses, you may never want to leave.

Picture this: a cosy, buzzing café atmosphere. The smell of freshly ground coffee beans wafts in the air. You’re picking a treat from a list of mouth-watering cakes and desserts.

You’ve found yourself in one of Vienna’s traditional Kaffeehaus – where you’ll find people meeting, writing, leafing through the day’s newspapers and lingering like it’s a shared living room.

If you’re a coffee lover, a history buff, a sweet tooth (or just love a cheeky bit of people-watching), here’s what to try and where to go in Vienna.

 

SACHERTORTE

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The Sachertorte might just be the world’s most famous chocolate cake. It’s a delicious combination of fluffy sponge, rich chocolate icing and layers of jam, often served with a dollop of delicious whipped cream. As a recipe originally made for a prince, it’s quite literally a cake fit for a royalty.

This cake is so good, it inspired “torte wars” — a 25 year-long legal battle about which Viennese institution could claim rights to serve the ‘original’ Sachertorte.

The eventual winner of the legal battle was Café Sacher — a chandelier-lit, historical café that shows off the grander side of Austrian coffeehouse culture. But why not judge the city’s best for yourself? Café Demel, the runner-up in the legal battle, boasts a delicious version too — and your taste-buds might just thank you for going two rounds.

 

GUGELHUPF

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For afternoon tea, try a slice of marbled Gugelhupf. This ring-shaped cake is a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth delight, traditionally made from a mix of light and dark chocolate dough, then generously dusted with icing sugar.

To enjoy it in one of the city’s most historic locations, head for Café Landtmann, a coffeehouse that opened its doors in 1873. 150 years ago, Vienna was dotted with hundreds of grand coffeehouses like this — a place where philosophers, writers, bohemians met to write, work or play.

Today, you can head here to wash off the Sunday blues, with free live piano music from 8pm to 11pm.

 

APPLE STRUDEL PASTRY

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You can’t leave Vienna without sampling a delicious, flaky pastry. Vienna’s apple strudel pastries are particularly popular, and the combination of sweet apples and cinnamon is sure to fix any bout of hunger.

One of the city’s best apple strudels can be found at the stunning Café Central. This coffeehouse is so steeped in history, you’ll see why UNESCO awarded Vienna’s coffee-house culture to its illustrious ‘intangible cultural heritage’ list. You’ll come for a snack, and stay for the experience.

 

AND OF COURSE…THE COFFEE

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When coffeehouses are a national institution, you know the coffee’s going to be good. And cappuccino lovers, listen up: you’re about to have a new favourite, and it’s called the Melange — a perfectly Viennese coffee with hot frothy milk (if you like it with cream, ask for it Franciscan, and thank us later).

Head to Vollpension to enjoy one of the most delicious coffees in town, where vintage furniture decorates a relaxed and beautiful café space. Like many of Vienna’s coffee houses, it opens for breakfast and stays open ‘til late.

To discover more of Austrian delicious culinary offerings, visit the Austria Tourism website.

Written by Kelsey Cooke, a KARRYON contributor