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Study Abroad Files: Vienna’s Kaffeehauskultur

Study Abroad Files: Vienna’s Kaffeehauskultur

Viennese Kaffeehauskultur, or, translated into English,“Coffee House Culture” is very succinctly described in the German language. Perhaps because the Viennese coffee heritage runs deep through the veins of this ex-imperial city, functioning almost as a microcosm of the comfortable and welcoming Viennese lifestyle. Here, coffee houses are not only places “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill” (according to UNESCO, which lists this special part of Vienna as “Intangible Cultural Heritage”), but continues to be an integral part in shaping Vienna as a city.

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With centuries of history to its name, Viennese coffee culture is deeply entrenched in tradition. Rooting back to the Ottoman Empire's sieging of Vienna in 1683, the legend goes like this: the retreating Turks left bags of coffee beans that Viennese citizen and hero Georg Franz Kolschitzky (1640 - 1694) snatched up and began brewing. The rest is history, and the birth of a rich coffee tradition ensued.

Never buy a newspaper in Vienna – instead, choose one at a café, carefully mounted on wooden spines, and choose a from a selection of meticulously prepared pastries - perhaps a slice of Apfelstrudel or Esterhazy Torte. Order a coffee (try an Austrian specialty coffee, such as a MelangeSchwarzer, or Einspänner,instead of your usual cappuccino), which is traditionally served on a silver platter with a glass of still water and a small cookie. Unlike coffee shops in other countries, it is entirely normal, and even welcomed, to linger hours after pastries and drinks have been consumed. 

Here are five distinctive locations, in no particular order:

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Traditional – Café Griensteidl 

Café Griensteidl has a rich 19th century history as a favorite spot for literary powerhouses like Stephan Zweig and Hugo Wolf. Located just behind the Hofburg palace in Michaelerplatz, this coffee location is one of many that epitomizes Vienna's coffee house culture, but distinctly, has been beautifully renovated over the years. The weight of its history is seen and felt in its rich red upholstery, white marble countertops, and crystal chandeliers.

€ € € // Michaelerplatz 2, Innere Stadt, First district

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Favorite Latte – Caffè a Casa

This unpretentious café focuses on the artistry of coffee, and serves arguably one of the top five lattes in the city. Caffè a Casa serves a variety of organic, house-roasted beans from all over the globe, including but not limited to Guatemala, Ethiopia, Panama, and El Salvador. Buy any mix by the kilo to brew at home, but the macchiato is truly delicious.

€ € // Servitengasse 4A, Alsergrund, Ninth district

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More than just a great latte – Supersense

Supersense is not only a locally-sourced coffee bar/delicatessen, but also a retail photography store, a recording studio, and the kicker – a former palace. Located in a former Venetian Palazzo, Supersense has been extensively renovated into its beautifully gold-accented space. You can even rent a bike and polaroid camera for €20 a day. Try the delicious apple cake (Apfelkuchen) if it is available that day.

€ € // Praterstraße 70, Leopoldstadt, Second district

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Best coworking study space – Das Möbel

Möbel’s comfortable and easygoing atmosphere feels like a close friend’s living room, with plenty of large tables for collaborative work and a long menu of drinks for the inevitable hours spent inside. Outfitted in rather modern furniture, the chairs, tables, bookcases, lamps, etc. are all for sale in Möbel’s original furniture shop in the sixth district. Try the extensive breakfast buffet on Sundays.

 € € // Burggasse 10, Neubau, Seventh district

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Best on-the-go – Kaffeeküche

Located inside of the subway station just steps away from the University of Vienna’s main building, or Hauptgebäude, this small and understated coffee shop is not to be overlooked. Kaffeeküche makes a simple, high-quality latte and boasts a friendly staff, a delicious Schokokaffee (Mocha) in white and dark chocolate, and warm brioche, croissants, and paninis. Try the goat cheese and pesto panini (for under 4 euros too!)

€ // Schottentor Passage 8, Innere Stadt, First district

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hat are your favorite study-abroad gems? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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