It’s said that retreating Ottoman soldiers left a few sacks of beans behind in 1683 after a failed siege, leaving behind the accidental ‘gift’ of coffee. The very first coffee house was opened in 1685, and since then, these rich cultural institutions have served as the backbone of Viennese life, not without their own ebb and flow in popularity over the years.
Unlike the grab-and-go speedy coffee shops that many of us in big cities are used to, a Viennese coffee shop is a place where you’re encouraged to linger. For the price of one cup of coffee (or one of the spectacular little cakes and tarts that are such a mainstay in Vienna), browse international newspapers, and let the morning (or afternoon) unfold before you, with no hurry to go anywhere or do anything in particular. Write a postcard, take in the atmosphere, and enjoy the unfurling of your day in a completely relaxed and unhurried manner. At night, it isn’t uncommon to hear live piano music; what a treat. Here are a few coffee shops that are worth noting for their traditional atmosphere.