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Vienna Coffee Houses – History, Best Viennese Coffee Shops

My Guide To Vienna Coffee Shops

Vienna Coffee Houses. I am not a coffee addict, but I adore the Viennese coffee culture: the cake vitrines, the wooden newspaper holders, and the waiters floating between faded plush seats and the espresso machines behind the counters. My favourite cafés are those that have that special community atmosphere, great music, free Wi-fi, and tasty cakes and snacks.

“Before, the Vienna coffeehouses generated the future, they represented the latest streams of fashion, and integrated new trends in their furniture. They were the city’s catwalk. (…) The communication that now happens via Facebook must have a real touchdown from time to time. These [new Vienna] coffeehouses could turn into the points of action.” Gregor Eichinger, architect and coffeehouse guru (ORF, OE1 Kulturjournal, 01/03/11)

Best Vienna Coffeehouses

Have a look at the best Vienna coffeehouses and check what places you’d like to visit. My shortlist covers traditional cafés, with red plush seats, globe lamps and wood pannelled window bays; some 1950ies retro style; and some purely contemporary. If you want to focus on cakes, check my list Cake Shops Vienna.

Making Of The Wiener Kaffeehaus

Vienna coffee houses: Cafe JelinekVienna Coffee Houses. There is still much nostalgia around Viennese coffee houses. That is because they have always been more than a place where to have coffee: basically since their invention in 1685, two years after the Turks left some coffee beans when they finally gave up on besieging the capital for the second time.

Local residents have been extending the social function the Wiener Kaffeehaus to an extreme. A 100 years ago, many resident artists, writers, architects and other intellectuals worked in coffee houses, read news papers extensively, took private telephone calls or had their private mail sent there. All that often for the price of an Einspänner or a Melange which they sipped for hours. This photo of neighbourhood café Jelinek gives you a good idea.

Vienna coffee houses: Cafe SperlAustro-Jewish writer Friedrich Torberg describes the coffeehouse microcosm of early 20th century Vienna brilliantly and very funnily in his classic Tante Jolesch or the Decline of the West in Anecdotes.

After the Second World War the local café scene nearly collapsed. Their main regular customers, Jewish intellectuals and artists, had gone. The Sixties and Seventies saw a revival of Vienna coffee houses, driven again by Austrian writers and artists. They were not after glamour but again comfy space for discussion. Go to Café Hawelka or Café Altwien and you will understand.


Not up for coffee before dinner? Visit some of the Best Bars in Vienna
How to connect coffeehouses with sightseeing, attractions and restaurants – find out more in Vienna Travel Planning
Should you tip in a coffeehouse? Find out in Tipping in Austria
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