Wednesday 11 January 2012

Drinking coffee in Vienna

In Vienna you are always looking into the windows of the most enticing places to eat and drink coffee ...

I seriously doubt there is such a thing as mediocre food in this city. 

The pics above and below were taken at Vapiano - (off shopping-mecca Mariahilferstrasse) - where fast food has never tasted so fresh and delicious - and Phil in the Museumsquartier - a cosy bookshop café where along with your  salad or sandwiches you can browse or buy books, music, and even their retro furniture, or just settle in to their comfy sofas to enjoy the free Wifi with your coffee.

Viennna's coffee houses are legendary and they each have their distinctive styling and history, but on a few things you can depend ...

... your coffee will come served on a silver tray alongside a glass of water with an upturned spoon perfectly balanced across its top and a silver bowl of sugar cubes; there will be a handy coat-rack near every table for easy divesting of your outer street wear; there will be plentiful reading material in the form of racks of all the latest newspapers, magazines or reviews ... 

... and, best of all, you will be made to feel you can stay as long as you please. Does life get more civilised than this?  

Café Hawelka is low-lit and atmospheric in bohemian style ...

Owned and run since 1939 by Leopold Hawelka, together with his wife Josephine who died in 2005 (you can see them in the black and white photograph on one of the poster-covered walls above), Hawelka saw the end of an era with Leopold's death just a few weeks ago, on December 30th 2011, aged 100 - see here and also Merisi's photographic tribute here.

Along with your kleiner or grosser Brauner, or perhaps a Mélange (get your coffee lingo right, for heaven's sake), you might try their sachertorte - preferably mit schlag, the Austrian version of whipped cream, which is not only less sugary but light as air ...

Café Diglas, on the other hand, goes with stylish bold reds and espresso-cup chandeliers ...

... while Café Sperl is traditional, old-time Vienna with wood and brass, antique glass chandeliers and red brocade. You can sit here for hours with the newspapers and endless coffee ... 

and perhaps succumb to an apfelstrudel, why not? 

Leaving best to last? ...

is Demel, right in front of the Hofsburg palace - seen in the photo below through strings of Christmas lights in Kohlmarkt ...

Demel's location is no lucky coincidence. Dating back to 1786, they were suppliers to the royal court, and a particular favourite of Empress Sissi who had their confectionaries personally delivered from over the road. It still bears the official title of K.u.K (Imperial and Royal) Hofzuckerbäcker 

La Bella blends beautifully with the decor upstairs at Demel's. That hot chocolate was to die for! 

They were doing a roaring trade before Christmas, their famous fresh Demel cakes flying off the shelves practically as fast as they could get them out of the oven. (We bought one that traveled to family in America in time for Christmas ... and rave reviews).

At the back of the store it's possible to watch the bakers and patissiers in action, creating their masterpieces ...

In my dream-life I would come here every day for a taste of these delights, or a little Wiener frühstück, sitting at the little window table upstairs where Merisi first introduced me to Demel's and some of the finer points of Viennese coffee and pastry ... but given reality (and in the interests of my waistline) I will settle for visiting here at Vienna for Beginners, and so should you, for the virtual experience through photographs so much better than mine :)


  1. Thank you for your kind words, Karen! :-)

    You need to come to Vienna more often, I so enjoy browsing through your Vienna images and stories! We are not chasing a dream here, but living it, right? ;-)

  2. Karen, you've helped my new year to a wonderful start with these glimpses of that civilized city that Merisi knows so well.

    I will be thinking of chocolate and coffee and comfortable chairs and varied reading materials all day long. Thank you, also, for showing us some of the Demel bakers. They are true stars!


  3. Well, THIS post had me running for my morning coffee! and dreaming...

  4. a beautiful post for my beautiful city!

  5. It's wonderful all these coffee, chocolates and "café"

  6. This is Delicious! Francesca

  7. You know how to holiday! Everything about this one looks fab!

  8. The apotheosis of coffee drinking!

  9. Thank you for taking me back to Demel's. I was there over a year ago - wonderful memories.
    Visiting from Merisi's blog.


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