Coffee has been a way of life in Vienna since the 17th century. Legend says it was the would-be Turkish invaders who brought their coffee beans with them and left sacks of them behind when they retreated from their seige of the city who started the city's love affair with the bitter bean. (The croissant is said to have first been baked by the city's bakers as a celebration of that defeat, its shape a replica of the Ottoman crescent) Whatever the truth of that, by the more leisurely days of the late 19th century, there were over 500 cafes in the city, and even today there are over 200.
Cafes are places to linger in, a home from home, somewhere to meet a friend to talk or play chess or cards, or to come on your own to read the newspaper or a book, stay as long as you like even if you only order a single coffee and sit on it all afternoon. You can have a meal, or enjoy a glass of wine. Food is fairly simple, and if you're after a decadent cake you'll need to head for a cafe-konditorei.
Cafes like the Central were once very clubby, different cafes attracting their own particular like-minded clientele. Those days are not quite gone, but the old-style cafes themselves are dwindling in number as city property values rise and the pace of life increases.
Coffee is still served Viennese-style, strong and black with some variation of whipped cream topping being a favourite, but a "Kapuziner" is akin to a cappucino and an espresso is an espresso wherever you are though here a "Mokka" will give you a good caffeine hit too.
Going to a cafe in Vienna is a pleasurable experience on all kinds of levels. For the price of a cup of coffee you can stay as long as you like and people-watch to your hearts content. Some of the cafes have live classical music and many are in themselves, architectural showpieces. It's very hard though, to have just a cup of coffee in any of the cafes here. In fact it would be a travesty because everybody owes it to themselves to savour the local specialities. This is the excuse I made to indulge in mountains of calories that normally I would avoid like the plague. The biggest problem is actually selecting which gateau to indulge in. The Sacher-torte is all chocolate with just a tiny layer of fruit preserve under the top icing.This slightly dilutes the sweetness. More exciting by far for me is the dobosotorte (spelling ?). It's the one in the picture with all the tiny layers of caramel frosting and the hard, glazed toffee icing on top. I actually can't think of any word good enough to desctibe it ! The apple strudel is also superb and not quite so heavy. To accompany your cake there is a bewildering selection of coffees, the most popular, I think , being the melange. The coffee is nice but the hot chocolate is divine !
The Sachertorte is a famous chocolate cake which was invented by the Viennese baker Franz Sacher in 1832, when he was in his second year of learning. An original Sachertorte consists of a dry chocolate dough with a thin layer of aprikot jam, which is all covered in a chocolate icing.
The trademark for the "Original Sachertorte" was registered by the well known Hotel Sacher, which was built at the end of the 19th century by the son of Franz Sacher.
Like they say "be Roman in Rome", so don't miss to visit one of numerous cafes in Vienna among which Cafe Central, situated in Herrengasse, is probably the most famous. The traditional Viennese Kaffeehaus share a common iconography of marble-topped tables and booths and bentwood chairs.
Since the turn of the 19th century, Cafe Central is Vienna's principal intellectual hangout. Today, however, the clientele is almost exclusively tourists or visitors to the town, admiring pseudo-Gothic decorations inside the cafe.
Vienna more than any other city outside of Italy and Paris has a booming cafe culture. In the past, the cafes would host some of the more notable literary figures of the day, and still have an air of prestige about them, that the tiny cafes of Paris and Rome do not.
Unlike the fast-paced, take-out coffee experience that is customary in America, Vienna has an unrushed café culture. Along with coffee, the waiter will serve a glass of cold tap water. Small food dishes are also usually available for order.
Most Viennese cafés have newspapers on hand -- and it is not uncommon to see chess boards. Many patrons linger in the cafés for hours --- talking, reading, writing, playing chess, or just relaxing.
The Viennese coffee house is a wonderful place to rest after serious sightseeing. The coffee is not cheap but after you have ordered you can sit as long as you like and people watch or there are often newspapers available. The coffee is always served with a glass of water.
It is said that the first coffee houses opened in 1683 after the defeat of the Turks. The coffee house as we see it date from the late 18th century.
Coffee and coffee drinking is an institution in Vienna, so do not just ask for "a cup of coffee"
.....You have to know your coffee in Vienna!
a melange is a blend of coffee and hot milk
Schwarzer is a black coffee (large or small)
Schlagobers is a strong black coffee werved with plain or whipped cream.
Actually I am a beer or tea drinker more than coffee, so in this case I prefer Lithuania or Czech Republic, Germany, but Vienna was definitely place of coffee culture. Usually I don't drink coffee, but as told "if you are in Rome, behave as Roman", I tried it in Vienna.
Only one time, but I felt it is beloved drink in Vienna in numerous coffee houses. People sit, drink coffee, eat some sweets, talk, read newspapers or books. These coffee houses also different here, as no one disturbs you with questions "something else?", as it happens in other parts.
Existing since 1900, still offers the genuine, elegant viennese atmosphere. Enjoy coffee and pastries, reading local and international news or wine and live music. Mind your appearence as the place maintains a semi-formal style - jeans are ok-. Worth your while, if you find a table!
Legend has it that coffee beans were left behind by fleeing Turks, but it took a year for the Viennese to figure out that they were to be used for coffee. Don’t know if this is true, but that’s what we were told. When ordering a coffee in a Viennese Kaffeehaus, you will receive it along with a glass of water. Mocca doesn’t mean coffee and chocolate, it means dark coffee. Melange is very similar to Cappuccino.
There is an old rule saying that whenever there are rails of a tram in a street and only 1 track left for the cartrafic in each direction, parking of cars is NOT allowed in these streets after 04.00 a.m., except in streets , where a seperate space for parking exists ( like between the trees ).
The idea behind this is, that the first tramways will start running at around 05.00 a.m. and there has to be enough space to remove the snow with big machineries.
On my pic : a carriage of the emperor for funerals, one of the expositions in Schoenbrunn castle
Schanigarten is the austrian word for the chairs and tables some restaurants have in front of their houses in the streets.
In Vienna you see them mainly in the pedestrian zones .
On my pic : the big collection of royal carriages in Schoenbrunn castle.
Treat yourself to a slice of Sacher cake at Hotel Sacher. This famous chocolate cake invented by the Sacher family was at the heart of a controversy in Austria for six years. An argument erupted over the ingredients of a true Sacher Torte. In the early 1800's, the Congress of Vienna ruled on the matter. It decided that the true Sacher Torte was made of two chocolate cake layers separated by apricot jam with a chocolate glaze over the top and sides of the cake.
Coffee is both a passion and an obsession to the Viennese. It was they, indeed, who invented the concept of the 'Kaffeehaus' or coffee house. You'll find them everywhere, and the brew they serve together with their amazingly scrumptuous pastries will not disappoint whether you indulge yourself in the Cafe Sacher, one of the world's snobbiest and most expensive, or in one in a modest residential neighborhood.
That said, please bear in mind that there is an endless variety of terms and vocabulary (German, of course!) that is used to get your shot of caffein. For the foreign, non German-speaking visitor, this presents a problem. My recommendation is to keep it simple and here are four options with English phonetics that will get you through:
einen kleinen Schwarzen - EYE-nun KLEYE-nun SHVART-zen - A demitasse with strong, black coffee
einen grossen Schwarzen - EYE-nun GROW-ssen SHVART-zen - A regular-sized cup of strong, black coffee
einen kleinen Braunen - a demitasse of coffee with cream
einen grossen Braunen - a regular-sized cup of coffee with cream
Another tip: The Viennese tend to be rather formal, so never use a first-name unless they invite you to. If you speak German -- even a little -- don't launch forth using the familiar 'Du' form until it's suggested that you do. The Austrians even have verbs for it: 'duzen' and 'siezen', which I've never heard used in Germany.
A language tip: If you know no German, you'll probably be rather perplexed by all the capital letters you see. There is a spelling convention that dictates that all nouns be capitalized.
In Vienna as elsewhere in Austria, you'll see more German Gothic script used that elsewhere in the German speaking world. It can be tricky to read. Aggravatingly enough, many street signs are written with it!!! Most of those have disappeared in Vienna, but not all.