Viennese coffee house

Viennese Coffee House

in Coffee articles by

This coffee house is an institution that plays an important part in Viennese culture.

The Viennese Coffee House is listed since October 2011 as Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austrian inventory. It is described as a place where time and space are consumed but only the coffee is found on the bill.

There is a specific atmosphere of the Viennese café. This coffee house has a numerous list of coffee drinks, international newspapers and various pastry creations. One of the typical subjects found here is marble tabletops, Thonet chairs, newspaper tables and interior design details in the style of Historicism.

This coffee house is described as an institution of a special kind, it is something like a democratic club opened to everyone for a cheap cup of coffee and where every guest can sit for a long time and talk, write, play cards, work on the laptop and of course read an unlimited number of newspapers.

In a lot of others classic cafes (Café Central for example) the piano music is played and there are social events like literary readings. Also, a lot of them offer small food dishes like sausages and desserts, cakes and tarts.

Here it is completely normal that a customer sits alone for two or three hours reading a newspaper. The Waiter, alongside with coffee will serve a glass of cold tap water.

Cafe Central, Vienna

A lot of leading 19th and 20th-century writers were attached to the atmosphere of Viennese cafes. It is said that a lot of them created their masterpieces in this cafes as well. Some of them are Karl Kraus, Arthur Schnitzler, Alfred Polgar, Friedrich Torberg, Egon Erwin Kisch and Peter Altenberg.

If we talk about the history of these places, some legends say that while liberating Vienna from the second Turkish siege in 1683 some sacks with strange beans were found. It was thought that they were camel feed and they wanted to burn them. Jan III Sobieski, the Polish king gave sacks to one of his officers named Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki and he started the first coffee house. But, this is a story, published by the Catholic Priest Gottfried Uhlich in back in 1783 in a book called History of the second Turkish Siege. The legend continues, and if we follow the story, Kulcyzcki added some sugar and milk and the tradition of the Viennese coffee was born.  The story is also that Kulczycki spent two years in Ottoman captivity and there he learned what coffee really is and he tricked his superiors in order to grant him the beans that were considered worthless.

First coffee house in Vienna was owned by an Armenian businessman named Johannes Diodato and it was opened in 1685. After that, these houses were received well and they began to sprout all over. At first, the drinks had no names and the customers were able to select various mixtures from charts and create their own beverage.

As mentioned above, many famous artists, scientists, politicians, and writers were constant guests in coffee houses in Prague, Budapest, Cracow and Lviv and another city of the foreign Austro-Hungarian empire.

The 1950s were years called coffee house death and in that period many of the Viennese coffee houses had to close due to the popularity of television and the appearance of modern bars, but despite that many of old and classic Viennese coffee houses still exist.

In many modern Viennese coffeehouses, there is a picture of Kulczycki in the window.

There is a list of famous coffee houses that you should visit:

If you find yourself near one of them, don’t hesitate to go in and feel the atmosphere that was created for centuries.

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