Vienna’s Coffee House Culture

When Coffee Became A Thing

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No one trully knows how the first coffee houses appeared in Vienna, but legend has it that it took place right after the second Turkish siege on the city, in 1683.

Soldiers from the Polish-Habsburg army found a sack with weird beans that they thought to be camel food. Jan III Sobieski, the Polish king, gave these sacks as a gift to one of his officers, called Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, who supposably started the first coffee house.

The Rise Of Coffee Houses

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The Blue Bottle‘ is the name Kulczycki gave his coffee shop, the supposed first of Vienna. However, although this legend is much alive today, Vienna’s first coffee house was actually opened by an Armenian businessman named Johannes Diodato in 1685, one year prior to the Blue Bottle one. Many of the stories about Kulczycki were actually invented by Gottfriend Uhlich, a german playwriter, in 1783.

The Top Cafes in Vienna

With plently of stories to tell, Vienna’s Coffee Houses are a must-see when visiting the city. Here are my top picks for Coffee Houses to visit in Vienna.

Café Frauenhuber

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Location: Himmelpfortgasse 6 | Near the Franciscan Church
Opening: Mon-Sat 08:00 – 22:00, Sun 10:00 – 22:00
Reservation: cafefrauenhuber.at/

Frauenhuber is one of the coziest and most welcoming cafes in the whole of Vienna. Despite not existing officially in the 18th century, the restaurant which operated in the building frequently held concerts from famous musicians, including those of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.

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If you are looking for a place to sit and enjoy a good moment of peace, Frauenhuber is definitely the place for you. It has a very calm atmosphere and the staff simply couldn’t be more polite and helpful, apart from also being extremely well-dressed.

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A definite go for the place, in case you have company, is the Frühstück für Zwei (breakfast for two), which contains either melange coffee or a pot of tee, two slices of bread, two portions of butter, two yoghurts, two boiled eggs, croissant, ham, cheese, salami, as well as a glass of prosecco or freshly pressed orange juice. That should be enough energy to help you explore the city for hours.

Café Landtmann

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Location: Universitätsring 4 | Near the City Hall
Opening: Mon-Sun 07:30 – 20:00
Reservation: landtmann.at

Landtmann is a juggernaut of elegance. You will not find the usual hipsters here, but rather the economic and intellectual elite of Vienna. No wonder it was a preferred meeting place for Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung.

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Here you can either reserve a booth inside of the building, where you can enjoy the decoration and a cozier atmosphere; or sit on a regular table at the external area, which is brighter and fresher. Either way is good, since the food is the important thing here. Apart from the regular dishes, here is where you can try the original Wiener Apfelstrudel, which recipe comes from the Schönbrunn imperial bakery.

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As this is one of my favorite places in town for a snack, I often order the Landtmannwürstel (Landtmann sausages), which comes accompanied by Goulash gravy, pickled cucumber, regular and sweet mustard, horseradish and a bread roll. Not the heaviest of meals, but enough to keep you going and definitely delicious, especially the bread together with the gravy.

Café Central

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Location: Herrengasse 14 | Near the Volksgarten
Opening: Mon-Sat 08:30 – 17:30, Sun 10:00 – 20:00
Reservation: cafecentral.wien

Right after opening its doors in 1876, Café Central quickly became an important intellectual meeting spot in Vienna, guesting various famous (or rather infamous) personalities from history, such as Adolf Hitler, Leon Trotsky and Josip Tito.

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Due to its iconic status, the Café Central is filled with tourists almost all day long, with queues going as far as 20 people waiting for a table to be freed. To avoid this, the best idea is the visit the place right after its opening hours, then the chances of getting a free spot and enjoying some quiet time are higher.

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You can stop here for a quick Klassiches Wiener Frühstück (classic Viennesse Breakfast), which contains a hot drink of your choice, homemade roll and croissant, soft boiled egg, and organic butter, jam or honey.

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