Chocolate Mousse at Café Central

Viennese Coffee Culture: A Way of Life

Tiếng Việt

Apart from the imperial palaces, Vienna is also globally known for its coffee culture. Through centuries, the Viennese has elevated the hot beverage into art and its consumption into a delightful way of life. And a traditional Wiener Café (Viennese cafe) is more than an ordinary coffee shop. It is a cultural establishment in which Vienna’s dolce vita is reflected.


Described as a place “where time and place are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill” by UNESCO, Wiener Café is an oasis of cosiness. For the price of a cup of coffee, one can freely linger under the high ceiling and elegant interior decoration for hours (even the entire day) to talk, write, and above all to study the omnipresent newspapers. In some cafes, guests can also enjoy piano music or participate in social events such as literary readings.

Café Central – a classic Viennese cafe
Interior of Café Central

There are dozens of traditional coffee houses in Vienna’s Old Town. But none has claimed (or I could say… dare to claim) itself as the best establishment in town. Everyone has their own favourite, and the sympathy is often to the point of obsession. For me, the legendary Café Central is the preferred location. I like it so much that I visited the place every single day during my stay.

Café Central

Opened in 1876 at one of the most prestigious corners in Vienna, Café Central is perhaps the city’s most monumental coffee house. The cafe is characterised by impressive stone columns that support high vaulted ceilings. There are marble tabletops and a grand piano sitting in the centre of the room. The menu includes a wide array of Viennese dishes, coffee specialities, and pastry creations from the in-house patisserie. The sweet treats are eye-popping, flavourful, and melt-in-the-mouth. Additionally, you can find at least one new sort of cake in the vitrine each day. However, one of their best-sellers (and my absolute favourite) is the Schokoladenzauber – magic made of pure dark chocolate.

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40 thoughts on “Viennese Coffee Culture: A Way of Life”

  1. Made me hungry just looking at your photos.

  2. Looks delicious. Honestly I was disappointed with the sache torte at Hotel Sache. But this place looks better and I would love to try it on my next trip, if I would ever go back there again. Thanks Len!

    1. You welcome! Actually, the cafe in Hotel Sacher was first on my list, because many people recommend it. But the queue was too long, so I skipped it and went to Cáfe Central. I was “glued” there 🙂 The cakes are so good!

  3. Mel & Suan – Singapore – Mel works his day job for a living, but lives for antiquities, history and geography at all other times. He enjoys writing and thought sharing and obviously traveling. Suan is a homey person, who like girlie stuff such as cross stitching etc. Enjoys shopping & modeling for Mel. What a match!
    Mel & Suan says:

    Oh yes, having afternoon tea in Vienna was one of our sweetest moments! Pity we could not stay long, because we were being “herded” like cattle to the sights!

    1. Such a shame 🙁 That’s why I dislike tour! I only joined when there is no other way. Tour is indeed informative, but it is annoying. You have to rely on 1) your guide and 2) your fellow travellers.

      1. Mel & Suan – Singapore – Mel works his day job for a living, but lives for antiquities, history and geography at all other times. He enjoys writing and thought sharing and obviously traveling. Suan is a homey person, who like girlie stuff such as cross stitching etc. Enjoys shopping & modeling for Mel. What a match!
        Mel & Suan says:

        That’s true, but it also saves on time getting around in a sense… but at expense of time to see the sights!

  4. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
    Jolene says:


    We didn’t try the other ones in your photo. I’ve also been trying to find the famous Black Forest cake but no luck…

    1. Other cakes are good, but in my opinion the Schokoladenzauber is the champion! The waiter insisted me to try that 🙂
      Regarding the Black Forest Cake, cafes in Stuttgart and the surrounding area (Baden-Wüttemberg) will surely have it. In Bavaria? I am not so sure… But I must admit, Black Forest cake is hardly comparable to Schokoladenzauber 😉

      1. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
        Jolene says:

        Ok thanks. I hope to be back to do a more in depth tour of Germany. I like what I saw so far.

  5. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    Oh, I think I had Sachertorte at Cáfe Central! Although I don’t think I tried their coffee, I don’t know why. Your photos from Vienna really make me miss that city.

    1. How was the Sachertorte, Bama? I saw the cake (looks huge), but my eyes were glued on the Schokoladenzauber. That’s why I did not try it. 🙂

      1. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
        Bama says:

        The thing is I’m easily pleased by any food! I remember it being really good, though. Next time I should try Schokoladenzauber.

  6. Wow they look delicious and the cafe looks so beautiful! Something to remember if I visit Vienna again someday 🙂

  7. ultimatetravel8 – I enjoy travelling, and it's part of my job. I love taking pictures, doing news things, and exploring new cultures.
    ultimatetravel8 says:

    I love the cake pictures. It makes me want to go there just to eat them.

  8. Nano @ Travels With Nano – Tokyo, Japan – Hi, I'm Nano! Welcome to my site! Travels With Nano is filled with everything I am passionate about: uncovering the world one sight, bite and cultural experience at a time. I'm here to share savvy travel tips and inspire (not influence!) your future travel adventures. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have you here reading!
    Nano @ Travel With Nano B. says:

    Ooooooh, those enticing chocolate cakes! xx

  9. I recently read that Hitler, Trotsky, Tito, Freud and Stalin all lived in vienna in 1913. I wonder if they ever happened to have a coffee at the same cafe without knowing about it…

    1. Probably 🙂 I think Stalin and Trotsky could sit together to talk about revolution and communism. Hitler, at that time, was still young and poor, might not be invited to this table, but he somehow made a pact with Stalin – a pact that he broke several years later 🙂

  10. Loved the photos and the history on coffee in Vienna. I LOVE my coffee and I hope, in my next life, I’ll get to go experience Vienna. xoxo Thank you for sharing. Delightful and quite beautiful.

  11. happyface313 – Where to begin? I love all kinds of beautiful things and yes, the most important to me is a positive outlook on life, hence my blog name. Enjoy my blog and I’ll be happy to hear from you!
    happyface313 says:

    🙂 Looks like you found a home away from home.
    Greetings from Vienna and a very HAPPY weekend to you 🙂

  12. Mabel Kwong – Melbourne, Australia – Writer and multicultural blogger based in Melbourne. Writing to help you navigate cultural identities and confidently pursue creative passions.
    Mabel Kwong says:

    Wow, Vienna’s cafe and coffee culture seems so similar to Melbourne – a pasttime, drinking and having a pastry or cake or two is a time of appreciation. The Schokoladenzauber looks amazing, like a mouthfuls of magic right there I am sure one wasn’t enough Also wonderful photos. Very brightly done given they were indoor shots.

    1. Many thanks! And you are right. I ate three Schokoladenzauber during my visit. Each for every single day 🙂 I know it’s not good for my body, but it’s hard to resist 😛

      1. Mabel Kwong – Melbourne, Australia – Writer and multicultural blogger based in Melbourne. Writing to help you navigate cultural identities and confidently pursue creative passions.
        Mabel Kwong says:

        Three Schokoladenzauber sounds like quite a few…but not enough 😛 I am sure all that walking around taking photos was great exercise after each sweet treat 🙂

  13. Fantastic captures! I just read about the Viennese coffee culture on another blogger’s post. 🙂 Coffee is catching up around the world. It’s big in Korea too.

    1. The coffee culture in Korea has a different style, but it’s no less charming. I like the atmosphere more than the drinks 🙂

  14. 100 Country Trek – Hello. Nice to meet you. My journey to cover as much of the world as possible began in Costa Rica in 2003. This is a story in itself, but for now I'll tell the short version . On a hike around Manuel Antonio I started chatting with a fellow hiker from Belgium. He told me he had a trip planned to visit Borneo within a few weeks of his return home. He then went on to say he had been to at least fifty different countries. That was when the travel bug bit me. I haven't stopped going since and the journey has been so incredible . It is here that I will share some of the incredible travel experiences .
    easterntrekker says:

    Wow! Never knew the background of this coffee.

    1. Interesting, isn’t it 🙂 I really like the atmosphere in the Viennese coffee houses. No hectic like in Starbuck or other chain coffee shops.

  15. OMG Len, you have me drooling! That chocolate magic cake! One of my favourite traditions is afternoon kaffee und kuchen. It’s still a daily thing for some of my German relatives and I’m all too happy to participate. It has been too many years since my last trip to Vienna but I remember that their coffee culture is exquisite.

    1. So exquisite that I had to visit the cafe everyday. Honestly, I’m not a fan of coffee but the cake is my weak point 😛

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