Austrian Coffee and Culture
Famous for its fantasy-esque castles and colossal palaces, Austria is a country that many dream of visiting. Its capital Vienna, that radiates artistic and intellectual energy, has been gaining particular notice over recent years due to its unforgettable museums and ornate coffee houses that look and feel like you’re sipping in the company of royalty.
If you’re thinking of dipping your toes into the Vienna coffee scene, keep reading and find out how the beverage came to the country by accident and why you should never just order ‘coffee’ in a Viennese coffee house.
History of Austrian coffee
Coffee’s first appearance in the country can be traced back to the exact year of 1683, when Turkish invaders were forced to leave by Allied Forces head by the Polish Habsburg Army. It’s said that they left in such a hurry, they left some of their belongings, of which included sacks of what appeared to be small brown pellets. Confused by this discovery, it was originally thought that the sacks contained camel food and they were very nearly burnt if it were not for Polish King Jan III Sobieski who gave the beans to an officer called Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki. Spending some time experimenting with the beans, he thought to add milk and sugar to the bizarre pellets and with that, he discovered coffee and opened Vienna’s first ever coffee house.
Vienna coffee houses
One thing to note about Vienna coffee houses is that they’re very old (some of the oldest, in fact) and incredibly elegant. Expect high ceilings, stunning chandeliers, smartly dressed waiters and a diverse range of people that can include everything from writers to friends catching up. Regular customers to Viennese coffee houses are called ‘stamgast’ and are treated with the utmost respect, staff will know their order by heart, preferred table and some will even go above and beyond and ensure it’s reserved at their usual calling time.
When it comes to the act of serving coffee, it’s almost always presented on a small silver tray with a glass of water and occasionally a small chocolate alongside it.
Austrian coffee types
When visiting a Viennese coffee house, if you simply try to order ‘coffee’, it’s highly likely your smartly dressed waiter will meet you with a look of disdain. One of the reasons for this is that in Austria, there’s a huge variety of coffee types!
Check out some of the most popular you’ll encounter below - don’t worry though, most Viennese coffee houses include English menus so you won’t need to remember all of these!
The above list of Austrian coffee types is non-exhaustive and you may discover even more! Each blend is delicious in its own right and if you’re up to the challenge, why not try a coffee crawl of the capital and sample each type along the way?