Before you go to Vienna, you should be forewarned, there will be A LOT of coffee and cake breaks as this tradition is and has been a large part of Viennese culture dating as far back as 1683. This tradition is so ingrained into the culture that UNESCO has declared it as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” since 2011. And seeing as it was my birthday, what better way to eat my cake!
Legend has it that while Vienna was being liberated from the second Turkish siege in 1683 by the Polish-Habsburg army, a sack was found with strange beans, which were thought to be camel feed that should be burned. The sacks were given to an officer named Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki who supposedly started the first coffee house. However, facts stated that the first coffee house was actually opened the year before. But, the legend continues that after a bit of experimentation, Kulczycki added some sugar and milk to the coffee and thus began the Viennese coffee tradition.
When visiting a coffeehouse, you will be transported to another time and place, more specifically, towards the end of the 19th century. Viennese cafes are known for their opulent fin de siècle decor, severs decked out in formal, pressed uniforms and freshly brewed coffees.
Towards the late 19th and early 20th century, leading writers of the time were drawn to these cafes filled with such ambience that inspired frequent meet ups and even a little bit of writing.
Sitting down for a cuppa coffee and a slice of delectable cake is the opposite of the hustle and bustle atmosphere most restaurants give off. No, when coming to one of these cafes, it’s a place for both locals and tourists to unwind, sit for a nice chat or even stop and read a book and simply live in the moment.