Viennese café

Viennese café

The Viennese café ( _de. Wiener Kaffeehaus) is a typical institution of Vienna that still plays an important role in Viennese culture and tradition.


Unlike some other café traditions around the world, it is completely normal for a customer to linger alone for hours and study the omnipresent newspaper. Along with coffee, the waiter will serve an obligatory glass of cold tap water and during a long stay will often bring additional water unrequested.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, leading writers of the time became attached to the atmosphere of Viennese cafés and were frequently seen to meet, exchange and to even write there. Literature composed in cafés is commonly referred to as coffee house literature, the writers thereof as coffee house poets. The famous journal "Die Fackel" by Karl Kraus is said to have been written in cafés to a large extent. Other coffee house poets include Arthur Schnitzler, Alfred Polgar, Friedrich Torberg, and Egon Erwin Kisch. Famous writer and poet Peter Altenberg even had his mail delivered to his favorite café, the Café Central.

The furnishings of a Viennese café can vary from plush and comfy to coldly modern and stylish. The classic look includes Michael Thonet chairs and marble tabletops.

Many cafés provide small food dishes like sausages as well as desserts like cakes and tarts.

In many classic cafés (for example Café Diglas, Café Central, Café Prückel) piano music is played in the evening and social events like literary readings are held. In warmer months, customers can often sit outside in a Schanigarten.


Legend has it that soldiers of the Polish-Habsburg army, while liberating Vienna from the second Turkish siege in 1683, found a number of sacks with strange beans that they initially thought were camel feed and wanted to burn. The Polish king Jan III Sobieski granted the sacks to one of his officers named Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, who started the first coffee house. After some experimentation, he added some sugar and milk, and the Viennese coffee tradition was born.

In reality, one of the first cafés was started by Armenian Johannes Diodato, a spy for the Austrians, who was given an initial coffee trade monopoly for his services.

The new drink was well received, and coffee houses began to pop up rapidly. In the early period, the various drinks had no names, and customers would select the mixtures from a colour-shaded chart.

The heyday of the coffee house was the turn of the nineteenth century when writers like Peter Altenberg, Alfred Polgar, Karl Kraus, Hermann Broch and Friedrich Torberg made them their preferred place of work and pleasure. Many famous artists, scientists, and politicians of the period such as Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Adolf Loos, Theodor Herzl and even Leon Trotsky were constant coffee house patrons. In Prague, Budapest, and Lviv ("Lemberg") and other cities of the Austro-Hungarian empire there were also many coffee houses according to the Viennese model.

From 1950, the period of "coffee house death" or "Kaffeehaussterben" began, as many famous Viennese coffee houses had to close, perhaps due to the popularity of television or the appearance of modern espresso bars. Nevertheless, many of these classic Viennese spots still exist, and tourism and a renewed interest in their history have prompted a comeback.

The "Griensteidl" has again proven to be in the avant-garde of civilized Viennese hospitality. In November 2007 it became the first entirely smoke-free Viennese café.

Well-known coffee houses

* Kaffee Alt Wien, Bäckerstraße 9
* Café Bräunerhof, Stallburggasse 2 - Thomas Bernhard's favourite café in Vienna
* Café Central, in the Palais Ferstel, entrance of Herrengasse 14 (corner of Strauchgasse) — Peter Altenberg's favorite café and at times his primary address
* Café Demel, Kohlmarkt 14 - the most famous sweet bakery, less of a typical café
* Café Diglas, Wollzeile 10
* Café Einstein, Rathausplatz 4
* Café Frauenhuber, Himmelpfortgasse 6 - Vienna's oldest café. Mozart's favorite.
* Café Griensteidl, Michaelerplatz 2 — newly opened at the site of the classic Café Griensteidl (1847–1897) in 1990
* Café Hawelka, Dorotheergasse 6
* Café Hummel, Josefstädterstraße 66
* Kleines Café, Franziskanerplatz 3
* Café Korb, Brandstätte 9
* Café Landtmann, Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 4 - Sigmund Freud's preferred café.
* Café Mozart, Albertinaplatz 2 (opposite the Albertina)
* Café Museum, Operngasse 7
* Café Prückel, Stubenring 24 (at the corner of Dr. Karl-Lueger-Platz)
* Café Raimund, Museumstraße 6
* Café Sacher, Philharmonikerstraße 4 (a café part of the Hotel Sacher)
* Café Schottenring, Schottenring 19
* Café Schwarzenberg, Kärntner Ring 17 (at Schwarzenbergplatz)
* Café Tirolerhof, Führichgasse 8
* Weinwurm/Café Weinwurm, or "M. Weinwurm & Sohn KG", Stephansplatz, founded by Maria Weinwurm
* Aida (café), a well-known chain located all over the city. Fairly inexpensive compared to the other options. A popular location is right beside Stephansplatz.

Former coffee houses

* Café Scheidl zum Fenstergucker (also known as Josef Scheidl's Café or Café Fenstergucker), Kärntnerstraße or Walfischgasse 1, founded by Josef Scheidl in 1886 [ [ Starbucks, Cafe Fenstergucker] de icon] , now "Starbucks Coffee"
*Café Herrenhof in Herregasse 10 in the first district. It was founded in 1918 and was for a period the most important meeting place for Viennese writers. The café closed in 1962.

See also

* "Aïda" Café-Konditorei Wien", a chain of coffeehouses


* cite book
last = Wurmdobler
first = Christopher
authorlink = Christopher Wurmdobler
title = Kaffeehäuser in Wien. Ein Führer durch eine Wiener Institution. Klassiker, moderne Cafés, Konditoreien, Coffeeshops
publisher = Falter Verlag
year = 2005
isbn = 3854393326

*Béatrice Gonzalés-Vangell, Kaddish Et Renaissance - La Shoah Dans Les Romans Viennois (1991-2001) De Robert Schindel, Robert Menasse Et Doron Rabinovici , Presses Universitaires Du Septentrion, 2005, 328 pages. ISBN 2-85939-900-3

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