Viennese Coffee

Viennese Coffee history

A cup of Joe, Java, Black-gold, Mud, Go-Juice or – a coffee by any other name… Viennese Coffee

The Viennese Coffee House is an old and much respected tradition. You are there, the menu is filled with so many types of coffees, oh dear, what to order…?! Don’t panic, this will be fun.

Understandably, if you do not speak German and perhaps have a bit of jet lag or travel fatigue you might want to take the shortest route to your brew and just say ‘coffee’ to the waitress. Seriously, not a good idea. Coffee is an art form in Vienna. Instead, just add a few words from the list below, start with ‘Bitte’ (which means ‘please’), and give the waitress the size you desire – small or large, (Klein oder Groß) brown or black, (Braune oder Schwartz) and so on. A Vienna Coffee House experience is by no means a coffee-run to Starbucks, it is a way of life for the Viennese. Additionally, a large coffee at a Vienna Coffee House will not be gallon size, but more like the large coffee (pre-Starbucks) that we all remember (and miss). At a Viennese Coffee house you will be welcome to stay a while, read the paper, check the scene, warm and refresh yourself. The Viennese customers sometimes spend all day there, so feel free to linger yourself. It is easy to imagine Sigmund Freud with a friend in a cool debate over a hot Melange. Another tip to take home – Go into the local Julius Meinl – which is a large grocery chain overall to be found in Austria – and purchase some Viennese coffee to pack for the return trip. Check our Sachertorte recipe and serve your friends a Vienna inspired coffee and cake afternoon. Don’t forget the Schlagobers!!!

Viennese Coffee


Trivia: Coffee came to Vienna after the second Turkish Siege in 1683.

Viennese café heritage

The terms ‘Schwarzen’ and ‘Mokka’ will be seen and heard in Vienna’s coffee houses and are really two names for the same coffee. This is similar to Espresso, strong and black, not a brewed coffee. Your coffee will be served on a small tablet with a class of water. Perfect!

  • Kleiner Schwarzer – coffee, black like Espresso
  • Großer Schwarzer – double the size – I have never seen this ordered.
  • Kleiner Brauner – small coffee with cream. The cream will be served in a small pitcher on the tray for you to determine yourself just how ‘brown’ you wish your Kleiner Brauner to be.
  • Großer Brauner – double the size
  • Eine Schale Gold – Große or Kleine is like a Brauner (above) but with more cream added so that it appears more golden in colour.
  • Ein Verlängerter – a term that is tricky but useful. This is the Kleiner Brauner coffee ‘stretched’ with hot water, so more in the cup – but less caffeine or not quite as strong. Which leads us to the
  • Melange – a ‘Verlängerter’ with ample hot and foamed milk, similar to a Cappuccino, dusted with either cinnamon, coco powder or coffee powder.
  • Kaisermelange is the Melange as above with the addition of an egg yolk stirred in (excellent if you spent too much time in the Heuriger on the previous night).
  • A Franziskane is again the Melange, this time with a big spoon full of Schlagobers on top. Excellent!
  • Kaffee verkehrt (literally translated meaning Backwards Coffee!) is served as a large cup of hot and foamed milk with a small pitcher of black coffee to add yourself. Similar to the Milchkaffee or Café latté.
  • A Faiker is a Verlängerter with hot milk and served in a glass
  • An Einspänner is a Fiaker with lots of Schlagobers on top and extra sugar for sprinkling. The Vienna Einspänner is a horse drawn coach (think one-horse Taxi) traditional in Vienna and a must for all visitors to this city. The Fiaker is the two horse (zweispännige Lohnkutsche) version. The Einspänner is the traditional drink of the Viennese coach drivers as the coffee could be kept warm (and the driver’s hands as well) in the glass with the thick cream topping serving as insulation for the hot beverage below, or quickly consumed, if a fare arrives, by drinking the hot coffee through the cold cream on the top. If the coffee alone is not sufficient to warm the coach driver he may have added a shot of Cognac – but don’t worry, the horses know the way.
  • Kapuziner is a small black coffee with a bit of whipped cream (Schlagobers) so that the coffee takes on the color of a monks hood.
  • Entcoffeiniert – is decaffeinated coffee
  • Obers – cream
  • Schlagobers Whipped heavy cream – a little bit of heaven. This should never be turned down, just don’t schedule your cholesterol check for the week following your trip to Vienna.

You can see the possibilities are immense. Don’t just order any old cup of ‘Joe’ when in Vienna!