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Vienna is famous for it’s traditional, grand coffee houses. What you might not have heard about, are the excellent non-traditional coffee hangouts. The cosy, modern, easy-to-work from, artistic places, where creative people spend their time. The kind of places I scurry to in the dreary Autumn weather, to enjoy a cosy afternoon curled up with a book.
What more do you need on a rainy afternoon?
It seems you can take the girl out of Melbourne, but you can’t take the Melbourne coffee-snob attitude out of the girl. I spent my early twenties in the heart of Melbourne’s Italian influenced Lygon street, my weekends and hungover Sundays roaming Fitzroy, Brunswick and Degraves street, searching for the perfect coffee. While I love Vienna’s traditional coffee culture, sometimes I need a taste of the slightly hipster, ramshackle, coffee shops that I miss from home.
I’ve made it a mission over the last few years to uncover Vienna’s cosiest coffee shops. After much thorough ‘research’ (otherwise known as lazy afternoons), these are some of my favourite cosy coffee shops to chill out in Vienna.
Zamm – Best coffee
** Update: This heavenly coffee shop unfortunately closed! You can still visit the gorgeous windows but there’s now an artsy design firm there and coffee on Westbahnstrasse has never been the same**
This place is bliss. A ‘Yuccie’ heaven maybe, but just walking in the door here makes me sigh of relief and happiness. It’s an oasis of inspiration, excellent coffee (even flat whites!) and artistic initiatives. The playlists are always calm, the decor is sparse but inviting, and man oh man, the books! The magazines! The coffee gadgetry! I cannot resist this place. Sure, it’s pandering to the hipster set of the 7th district, but I’ll freely admit I’m a sucker for all of it. Perch yourself on the street facing bar stool, flick through one of their art magazines and embrace your inner creative tendencies.
Liebling – Best decor
Liebling is one of my favourites (pun most definitely intended). Its not too overrun, the music is always at a manageable volume and the atmosphere is cosy but not cluttered. It’s tucked off to the side of Mariahilferstrasse on Zollergasse 6, but somehow always seems filled with young locals rather than exhausted tourists and shoppers. It has the required shabby-chic furniture, and the coffee is good – not incredible, but good enough to sustain an afternoon session of reading, writing and crowd watching.
Cafe Nest – Best relaxed vibe
Cafe Nest is surrounded by some better-known hotspots in the 4th district, but holds its own for the calm, relaxed ambience. The decor is retro 70’s and you can always be guaranteed a table. Service is relaxed (as always in Vienna), but it means you can while away your afternoon without feeling pressured to buy more coffee. I adore this place for unwinding after work.
Still, relaxing, heavenly
These last few are well known, but will suffice in a pinch. You can’t always be guaranteed a seat, and the coffee quality really varies, but for a different coffee shop experience they will do the trick.
I’ve mentioned Phil before, but it is such an institution in Vienna, it has to be included. With brunch options, decent coffee, second hand furniture, it ticks all the hipster hangout requirements. The Vinyl and book selection is huge, but very few options are available in English (more motivation to learn Deutsch!). Phil was the first cafe that gave me hope in the early days of living in Vienna that there was more beyond the traditional coffee houses. It can get very crowded and hard to get a seat. Wifi is available, but normally its so busy you are better off using your own mobile data hotspot.
Pure Living Bakery
There’s two outlets of this American diner-inspired cafe. One on Burggasse and one in Hietzing. Hietzing is the original and slightly smaller option, which means getting a table is always a bun fight. The cakes and crumbles are worth it though. The Burggasse location is larger and offers delicious ice cream options in the summer. This is a popular meet up point for mums and kids, so volume and atmosphere can vary. If you are hanging for non-Austrian desserts, this is the place to go. I can confirm the waffles are delicious!
I’ve been here a few times for brunch, friends birthdays and attempted to relax here for a coffee and chill out session. It has all the right ingredients – ace location, great brunch menu and decent enough coffee. And yet, Ulrich never quite cuts it for me. Its always super busy and crowded, loud, and in my opinion pretty over-priced. If you can get a table outside in the summer, or nestle in the back room in winter it can be relaxing, but 9 times out of 10 it is really hectic. You need to try it once to know what all the fuss is about, but as far as cosy coffee goes, Ulrich only just scrapes in for a mention.
Even with all these options, I still occasionally miss the Melburnian coffee experience. The good news is, that very shortly I’ll be able to get my fill. As I hinted at last post, we have got some big plans unfolding next month – we’re heading home for the first time in two years.
Home – blue skies, good coffee and abstract city centres
The first real visit since we announced our shotgun Visa wedding in 2013. The first visit where we might just manage to have a small holiday and explore Australia. Most importantly, the first visit where I can indulge my inner-coffee snob for a whole month. I cannot wait to tour around the latest coffee shops and share what we find with you guys. I’ll be writing more about the lead-up to a big trip soon, but if you have an insider coffee tip for Vienna or Melbourne, I’m all ears!
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