Brief History of Coffee in Vienna, Austria
Coffee is an Arabian invention. In the early 16th century, the first cafes opened in cities like Cairo and Aleppo. However, in Europe – especially Vienna – the coffeehouse came into full bloom. In 1685 a Greek-Armenian merchant Johannes Theodat founded the first coffeehouse in Vienna. The Viennese added milk and sugar to soften the taste of the strong Turkish coffee. Viennese coffeehouses soon became places where you could freely exchange ideas and enjoy thoughtful conversations over a cup of coffee.
Caffeine sharpens the wit and revives the spirit. Maybe that’s why by the end of the 19th century, a generation of scientists, writers, and artists like Gustav Klimt and Joseph Roth frequented coffeehouses. Stefan Zweig wrote his famous memoirs at the elegant Hotel Sacher in Salzburg. Perhaps that’s why philosopher George Steiner noted that “the coffeehouse is one of the main components of the European identity.”
How to Order Coffee in Vienna
When you visit a Viennese coffeehouse, make sure you take the time to peruse the expansive menus – some feature over 30 coffee variations!
Basic Viennese Coffeehouse Menu
Strong black coffee
Regular coffee with warm milk and lots of foam
Black coffee with milk
Black coffee with whipped cream and powder sugar
Strong coffee with rum or brandy
A double Mokka with apple liquor, whipped cream, and flakes of chocolate
Cold coffee with vanilla, whipped cream, and chocolate flakes
There is also the familiar Italian espresso or cappuccino. Besides coffee and pastries, most Vienna coffeehouses offer small dishes, salads, or sausages.