BY CLAIRE OKRAFO-SMART
Coffee. We love it.
It smells soo good! It gives you an energy boost. And, according to some research, it can also offer important health benefits, such as a lower risk of liver cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart failure. What’s not to like?
As lockdown gently started to lift a few weeks ago, a takeaway coffee went from being something we bought without even thinking, to being a treat, something to savour, something to take a picture of and share with your friends!
We think it’s time to revisit the Latte Art Course we created for a group in Vienna; the Viennese Coffee House is an institution and in fact, in 2011, Viennese coffee-house culture was officially added to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. But now a new wave of coffee houses is bringing the city’s tradition firmly up to date; here’s our pick of the best in the city.
Café Frauenhuber – The Historic One
As the oldest coffeehouse in Vienna, Café Frauenhuber is a beacon in the capital’s coffee-house history. Pull up a red-velvet seat and enjoy a coffee in the same café that both Beethoven and Mozart wooed guests with their legendary music.
Kleines Café – The Bohemian One
Kleines is reminiscent of Vienna’s bohemian past, situated on a charming cobbled square overlooking the baroque Franziskanerkirche (Franciscan Church). “Kleine” translates to “small”, so it’s no surprise that the café itself follows suit. Worlds away from the well-trodden tourist tracks, this is a great spot for a coffee in the sunshine, with tables and chairs dotted outside.
Zweitbester – The Edgy One
Furnished in an industrial style – all concrete floors, exposed-brick walls and chrome piping – the ambience is surprisingly comfortable as you sip your foamy cappuccino. Popular with the locals and just a short walk from the city’s main attractions, Zweitbester also boasts an organic menu that changes daily.
Café Sperl – The Luxurious One
Café Sperl oozes true Viennese coffeehouse charm – think luxurious banquettes, grand open spaces and an air of old-world opulence. With 34 kinds of brew to choose from, pair your blend of choice with a slice of creamy Sperl Torte (an almond-and-chocolate-cream dream) and enjoy. On Sundays, live piano performances transport you back to a bygone era.
Kaffemik – The Hipster One
Quaint blue and white tiles, white walls and simply furnished, with coffee sourced from independent coffee roasters across Europe, Kaffemik, in the trendy Neubau District may be tiny (just six seats) but it packs a punch, serving 35,000 flat whites a year.
Balthasar Coffee Bar – The Instagrammable One
Balthasar is deliciously relaxed. With its pastel-coloured walls, white-and-blue-marbled counter and twinkling lights, the excellent coffee and relaxed vibe in this coffee house makes it one of Claire’s top picks.
Café EL.AN – The State-of-the-Art One
Café EL.AN (an abbreviation of owners Elke and Anna’s names) serves up state-of-the-art coffee using speciality filter roasters and high-tech lab tools. Anywhere whose tag line is “a yawn is a silent scream for coffee” has us hooked.
Café Prückel – The Cultural Heritage One
For more than 100 years, the iconic Café Prückel has been a pillar of the Viennese coffee house movement. Embodying all the traits synonymous with the Viennese coffee house including the tuxedo-clad waiters, the beautifully decorated 1950s-style café was added to the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list in November 2011. Dressed in pastel pink and filled with soft furnishings, the café’s interior wouldn’t look out of place in a Wes Anderson film.
People on Caffeine – The Unique One
In Vienna’s eighth district, People on Caffeine (POC) percolates sumptuous brews. Its unique location, in an old church, strikes a balance of style with refined, minimalist interiors. Intimate without being overcrowded, duck in here for some peace amid the busy streets of an inner-city district.
Café Central – The Famous One
Last but by no means least, the famous one. Although it is packed with a line at nearly every hour of the day, Cafe Central is a must-visit at least once in your lifetime. The interior is spectacular – picture stunning, vaulted, palatial interiors and the cake display is a work of art. Thanks to its’ central location you must be prepared to wait (it is very popular, but justifiably so).