A guide to understanding Vienna's coffee culture

As an important part of Vienna's culture, visitors would be missing out on a great deal by not visiting one of the Kaffeehäuser (coffee houses), and it is sure to be an unforgettable highlight of a trip to Vienna. When visiting one, there are a few customs that are useful to know to help make the experience all the more enjoyable.

Specify your beverage
A request simply asking for "coffee" at one of Vienna's coffee houses will be met with exasperation; it is much better to ask for a type, of which there are a few.

Kleiner Schwarzer – Viennese version of the espresso
Kleiner Brauner – a mocha with cream on the side
Kapuziner – a mocha with cream on the top
Verlangerter – similar to an americano
Kaffee Verkehrt – a latte
Melange – the most common Viennese coffee, is similar to a cappuccino, but made with more foamy milk and Viennese roasted coffee beans

Prepare to get comfortable
One of the key elements to Vienna's coffee house culture is that they are places to relax and run at a slow pace, similar to what you would expect from a restaurant. There are often plenty of newspapers to read, but it can also be a good idea to bring a book or good company to make the most of the relaxing hours spent there. Most coffee houses serve some kind of food as well, whether in the form of lunchtime snacks or an excellent selection of cakes and other baked goods. A slice of traditional Austrian Sachertorte is a wonderful accompaniment to a cup of good coffee.

Going along with the idea that Viennese coffee houses are places where you are encouraged to take your time, the waiting staff are very unlikely to bring the bill. It would be considered rude for them to rush guests by bringing the bill over, so it is up to the guest to ask for it, indicating that they are ready to leave. Don't forget to add a tip, around about 10% is suggested, and it is a good idea to explicitly say how much you wish to pay.

Image Credit: basykes (flickr.com)