The best places to to indulge in a Viennese caffeine hit, by Jennifer Pinkerton
These old-school cafes prove why everyone loves a classic
Located near the Museum Quarter, a little off the city’s beaten track, Sperl is known as a ‘window coffee shop’ of the Ringstrasse, Vienna’s late 19th-century string of architectural opulence.
True to this class of shop, Sperl’s seats rest beneath towering windows and ornate brass chandeliers, a perfect place to polish off the Sperl torte – a ‘secret recipe’ based on vanilla, cinnamon and almonds.
Open Mon–Sat from 7am–11pm; Sun from 11am–8pm. Gumpendorfer Strasse 11; cafesperl.at
The Hawelka (located near Stephansplatz, one the city’s busiest shopping squares) is the Kombi Van of coffee houses: like a wood-panelled ski lodge it is classic, worn around the edges, yet filled with charm.
Thonet chairs, hat racks, red velvet upholstery and vintage posters are scattered through its artsy interior. Sweet tooths will approve of its much-lauded buchteln, a yeast bun with plum jam.
Open Mon–Sat 8am–1am; Sun and holidays 10am–1am. Dorotheergasse 6; hawelka.at
Café Sacher is all about its namesake torte. Queues form early in the morning to sample the famous rich chocolate cake, sponged with apricot jam and topped by a stamp made from icing.
Flanked by the Opera Theatre and the Albertina Museum, it’s hard to fault the Sacher for location, though its opulent furnishings and military-style service create an atmosphere that’s a little stiffer than its rivals.
Open daily from 8am–midnight. Philharmonikerstrasse; sacher.com
Once home to Vienna’s stock market, Café Central trades in ‘wow factor’ with a large marble columned hall, high arched ceilings and intricate carved wooden artwork. This rather touristy haunt has a business-like, bourgeois atmosphere – one that’s amplified by live piano music. The staff has a reputation for being brisk, so bring thick skin and patience for queues. Open Mon–Sat from 7:30am–10pm; Sun from 10am–10pm; with daily live music from 5–10pm. Herrengasse 14; palaisevents.at
Lovers of mid-century modern design will drop their cat’s eye glasses over Prückel’s scuffed 1950s rattan chairs, lino floors, work-of-art cigarette machine and its golden-plated stucco ceiling.
Opposite the Museum of Applied Arts, Prückel offers a light-filled retreat where pocket watch-toting waiters nip between well-groomed guests. At night, a house piano plays.
Open daily from 8:30am–10pm. Stubenring 24; www.prueckel.at
The new-school coffee houses:
Ride the new wave with these modern purveyors
The ‘coffee factory’ is a small, minimalist roaster with white and wood furniture and a clean, cool feel.
Favoritenstrasse 4–6; Kaffeefabrik.at
People on Caffeine
Barista Robert employs old-fashioned drip filters to serve coffee in the wing of a high-ceiling church.
Schlösselgasse 21; facebook.com/poccafe
Three-wheeled Italian mopeds flip open café windows to serve takeaways in busy city squares.
Using beans from Milan’s Akrap roastery, ‘triple shots’ are commonly ordered in this coffee addict’s den.
Königsklostergasse 7; akrapcoffee.com