Austria is famous for its coffee-house culture, a tradition which began in the 17th century and is still going strong today. Discover the speciality coffees and other delights of five of the best traditional and contemporary cafés in Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck
Coffee houses, or kaffeehäuser, are an integral part of Austrian culture. A tradition founded in 17th-century Vienna, they reached their height in the city in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as places where people could order a drink and stay all day if they wished, meeting friends, reading, working, or simply taking in the ambience. This same culture remains today in a wealth of cafés across Austria; the Austrians take coffee seriously and in 2011 Viennese coffee houses were placed on the Unesco inventory of the country’s intangible cultural heritage.
In other countries you might simply order an Americano or a cappuccino; in Austria expect to find a menu that includes not only various coffees but different serving styles that incorporate chocolate, cream and flavoured liqueurs, all different, making the Austrian café experience unique. Become a regular, or stammgast in German, next time you’re visiting Vienna, Innsbruck or Salzburg, and delight in these cities’ traditional café culture.
Enter classic Viennese coffeehouse Café Sacher to feel as though you’ve stepped back 150 years. The opulence of decades gone by has not been lost here; this elegant setting features marble-topped tables, rich red velvet upholstery and printed silk wallpaper. Order Sachertorte chocolate cake, an absolute must for visitors to Vienna, and you will be impeccably served by waiting staff dressed in traditional formal black uniforms with white aprons and caps. The famous Sachertorte is an Austrian classic, originally invented by apprentice chef Franz Sacher in 1836 when Prince von Metternich of Austria requested a more masculine style of dessert for his guests. The original Sachertorte served at Café Sacher cake is finished with apricot jam and chocolate icing, and is topped with the official Hotel Sacher chocolate seal – served with whipped cream, it’s a perfect accompaniment to your Viennese coffee. Enjoy your Sachertorte al fresco in the summer months; the Salzburg branch has a large riverside terrace, there are also Café Sacher branches in Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz.
Café Sacher, Schwarzstrasse 5-7, 5020 Salzburg, +43 (0)662 88977 2384
Haepinest offers third-wave (artisanal) coffee in the ever-stylish city of Innsbruck. More contemporary than the typical Austrian coffeehouse, this welcoming café and bistro with minimalist interiors and a quirky edge attracts a cool crowd. The menu has a homemade feel, with much of the produce coming from local sources. As for the coffee, although it’s more progressive than that served in the classic Viennese cafés, there is still a great emphasis on quality. The baristas choose lighter-roasted coffee beans from small independent roasters all over Europe, proudly bringing customers a unique blend of high-quality artisanal coffee with every sip.
Haepinest, Innstrasse 2, 6020 Innsbruck, +43 (0)650 361 3779
One of the most famous and traditional Viennese cafés, Café Central was established in 1876 and is known for its impressive interior. Marble and polished stone columns, high ceilings and a grand piano that sits in the centre of the room add to the café’s distinctive atmosphere. Café Central is also noted for its history of illustrious customers; Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin and Sigmund Freud are just some of its past patrons. Step back in time over a coffee and a pastry at Café Central, a destination not to be missed.
Café Central, Herrengasse 14, 1010 Vienna, +43 (0)1 5333 76361
Once you’ve tried the Salzburg branch of traditional Café Sacher, you might have a thirst for something a little more modern. Glüxfall is an elegant café-bar that offers excellent food for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as exceptional coffee, with cocktails available later in the evening. A casual, cool space, Glüxfall is perfect for those summer days where coffee turns into dinner, which turns into drinks. Sit outside and soak up the sunshine on the terrace and appreciate laid-back Austrian café culture in style.
Glüxfall, Franz-Josef-Kai 11, 5020 Salzburg, +43 (0)662 265017
Located in the alpine city of Innsbruck, Café Moustache is an on-trend coffee house with retro-inspired decor and a lively atmosphere. Famous for its falafel, craft beer and general quirkiness, this is the perfect spot to order a coffee and a snack, people-watch and let the day go by. Expect to find a menu of excellent beers, wines and spirits as well as coffee and an array of vegetarian options. Café Moustache is a little off the beaten track, so you’ll be mixing with the locals.
Café Moustache, Herzog-Otto-Strasse 8, 6020 Innsbruck, +43 (0)680 216 3908