Premium

The best coffeehouses in Vienna, from palatial cafés to minimalist micro-roasters

Supersense, Vienna
Supersense is a stucco-bedecked café, lodging in an 1898 replica of a Venetian palazzo

Nowhere does a coffeehouse like Vienna. The Austrian capital's obsession with java has been going strong ever since Turks left behind sacks of 'magic' coffee beans when fleeing the city at the Battle of Vienna in 1683. The Viennese put their own spin on things, natürlich: roasting the beans, adding milk, cream and sugar, and giving coffees their own fancy names: Brauner (espresso), Verlängerter (Americano), Melange (cappuccino) and the like.

Today the city’s Kaffeehäuser are still bathed in the nostalgic glow of Gemütlichkeit that existed a century ago when Trotsky, Freud, Klimt and other great thinkers and coffee drinkers frequented them to read, play chess, devour cake and put the world to rights. But these old-timers are now joined by a new generation of cafés and micro-roasters thinking more along the lines of third-wave, small-batch and single origin. Here we bring you a blend of both.

City Centre (1st district)

Café Central 

While Vienna's most palatial coffeehouse is certainly no secret, it's special nonetheless. Marble pillars prop up a high, spectacularly vaulted ceiling, and black-waistcoated waiters breeze around with whipped cream-topped coffees and impressive-looking hunks of chocolate-truffle Altenberg Torte. Since it opened in 1876, famous regulars have included Trotsky (he came here to play chess), Sigmund Freud, and poet Peter Altenberg (note his statue guarding the entrance), who had his laundry and post delivered here. A pianist plays from 5pm to 10pm daily.

Contact: 00 43 1 533 37 63;
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 7.30am-10pm; Sun, 10am-10pm
Nearest Metro: U3 to Herrengasse
Prices: £££

At Café Central, black-waistcoated waiters breeze around with whipped cream-topped coffees Credit: © Café Central, Wien/Fotograf Herbert Lehmann

• The best restaurants in Vienna

Café Sacher

Sacher is Viennese through and through, sidling up to the city's opulent opera house and done out with ruby-red walls, chandeliers, gilt-framed portraits of Hapsburg royals and mirrors galore. This landmark coffeehouse is all about the cake: namely Sacher Torte, once a favourite of Emperor Franz Josef. A richly iced, dark-chocolate dream, offset by a tangy layer of apricot jam and served with a swirl of whipped cream, it has been the centrepiece of the afternoon ritual of Kaffee und Kuchen since the luxury Hotel Sacher opened in 1876.

Contact: 00 43 1 51 456 1053;
Opening times: Daily, 8am-12am
Nearest Metro: U2 to Karlsplatz
Prices: £££

The landmark Café Sacher is all about the cake: namely its famous Sacher Torte

• The best experiences in Vienna

Café Landtmann

The grand and the glorious have passed through Landtmann's doors since 1873. This classy coffeehouse sits close to the Burgtheater on Vienna's monumental Ringstrasse boulevard. Inside, it's all dark-wood paneling, intimate booths and 1920s flair. Bow-tied waiters balance speciality coffees on silver platters – including a Turkish-style one brewed in a copper pot. Marlene Dietrich and Gustav Mahler are said to have been partial to the cakes here, which include a perfectly flaky apple strudel. Or come for good old-fashioned Austrian classics such as schnitzel and goulash before a night at the theatre.

Contact: 00 43 1 24 100 120;
Opening times: Daily, 7.30am-12am
Nearest Metro: U3 to Herrengasse
Prices: ££

Inside Café Landtmann, it's all dark-wood paneling, intimate booths and 1920s flair

• The best hotels in Vienna

Demel 

Once purveyor of cakes, tortes and confectionery to the Hapsburg royals, Demel has been around since 1786, sitting just across the way from the Hofburg palace. It's an opulent affair, with rococo salons graced with chandeliers, gilded mirrors and coffered ceilings. Peek through to the show kitchen to see bakers at work before the indulgence begins. House specialities include chocolate-walnut Demeltorte, sprinkled with candied violets and the orange liqueur-infused chocolate Annatorte, topped by a hazelnut-nougat swirl. Don't miss one the best apple strudels you'll find anywhere: a dense layer of tart apples, raisins and ground walnuts, wrapped in a caramelized crust.

Contact: 00 43 1 535 17 17;
Opening times: Daily, 8am-7pm
Nearest Metro: U3 to Herrengasse
Prices: £££

Demel is an opulent affair, with rococo salons graced with chandeliers, gilded mirrors and coffered ceilings Credit: Mischa Nawrata

• The best shops in Vienna

Leopoldstadt (2nd district)

Supersense

Up near the Prater where the Riesenrad Ferris wheel twirls, this gloriously high-ceilinged, stucco-bedecked café lodges in an 1898 replica of a Venetian palazzo. It has been given a new lease of life as a hip retro haunt, where you can come for breakfast, lunch and locally roasted coffee, followed by a mooch around the concept store. Here you'll find a one-off selection of handprinted notebooks, Polaroid cameras and vinyl. 

Contact: 00 43 1 969 08 32;
Opening times: Tue-Fri, 9.30am-7am; Sat, 10am-5pm
Nearest Metro: U1 to Nestroyplatz
Prices: £

Supersense is a hip retro haunt, where you can come for breakfast, lunch and locally roasted coffee

• The best nightlife in Vienna

Josefstadt (8th district)

People on Caffeine

Blink and you’ll miss this tiny café, hidden away in a church in Vienna's 8th district, Josefstadt. The vibes and music are mellow, and the coffee some of the very best in this part of Vienna, whether you go for a Marzocco-made espresso, white filter or cold brew. Star of the show is barista Robert, embracing the third-wave and treating his carefully sourced beans with the reverence they deserve. The fruit tarts and cakes are pretty tempting, too.

Contact: Schlösselgasse 21;
Opening times: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm
Nearest Metro: U2 to Rathaus or Schottentor
Prices: £

The mellow People on Caffeine is a tiny café hidden away in a church

An insider guide to Berlin

Mariahilf (6th district)

Café Sperl

A delicious bubble of faded grandeur, Sperl is as much loved for its bohemian warmth and witty waiters today as it was when it opened its doors in 1880. The great Secessionist artists, operetta-writing composer Franz Lehár and Sigmund Freud all once lounged in its worn-velvet booths. Brass chandeliers cast a soft glow on customers enjoying a chinwag over coffee and milk-chocolate Sperl Torte. There's billiards if you fancy it and, on Sunday afternoons, live piano music. Be prepared to queue at busy times. 

Contact: 00 43 1 586 41 58; cafesperl.at
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 7am-10pm; Sun, 10am-8pm
Nearest Metro: U2 to Museumsquartier
Prices: ££

Go to Café Sperl for a slice of the delicious milk-chocolate Sperl Torte Credit: Sascha van der Werf/Sascha van der Werf

• The best restaurants in Berlin

Wieden (4th district)

Alt Wien

The aroma of coffee wafts enticingly from this micro-roastery and café near the Naschmarkt, which prides itself on excellent coffee from organic, fair-trade beans. In the vintage-looking shop at the front, you can stock up on top-quality beans from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Columbia – you name it. The house blend Alt Wiener Gold, a well-balanced, medium-roast 100 per cent Arabica, with aromas of milk chocolate and almond, is a fine start. Head to the little bar out back to sip one. 

Contact: 00 43 1 505 08 00; altwien.at
Opening times: Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm; Sat, 10am-4pm
Nearest Metro: U4 to Kettenbrückengasse
Prices: £

Alt Wien prides itself on serving top-notch coffee from organic, fair-trade beans

• The best things to do in Berlin

Kaffeefabrik

If you fancy swimming away from the mainstream coffeehouse scene, this hip, minimalist coffee bar and roastery should be your go-to. In an untouristy corner of town, Tobias Radinger cuts no corners when it comes to sourcing fair-trade, organic and single-origin beans from around the world, which are then small-batch roasted in Austria’s Burgenland region. His baby is a Dalla Corte Evolution espresso machine, ensuring that every shot is superb.

Contact: 00 43 660 178 90 92; kaffeefabrik.at
Opening times: Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm; Sat, 11am-5pm
Nearest Metro: U1 to Taubstummengasse
Prices: £

Kaffeefabrik is a minimalist coffee bar and roastery in an untouristy corner of town

• The best restaurants in Prague

Neubau (7th district)

Espresso 

Nicely laid-back, retro-cool Espresso offers a generous shot of 1950s style in Vienna's artsy Neubau district. Lipstick-red formica tables and banquettes, a polished wooden counter and the odd decadent splash of gold set the scene for feisty Cult coffees, roasted in Austria. And yes, as the name suggests, they do a mean espresso. Or go for a blowout breakfast, lunch special or slice of homemade cake. There's pavement terrace seating when the weather is warm.

Contact: 00 43 1 522 105 70;
Opening times: Mon-Fri, 7.30am-1am; Sat & Sun, 10am-1am
Nearest Metro: U2 to Museumsquartier
Prices: £

Retro-cool Espresso offers a generous shot of 1950s style in Vienna's artsy Neubau district