The 18 Best Specialty Coffee in Vienna

If you've tired of Vienna's classic coffeehouses, their uniformly dark-roasted coffee, their grumpy suit-and-tie-wearing waiters, take a breather at these new-wave specialty cafes. Here, your espresso will be flavorful and you won't need to feel bad about lingering with your laptop or asking for the wifi password.

#1 People on Caffeine

How often do you have coffee, let alone specialty coffee, inside a Baroque church? And not just any church: the Alser Vorstadt Kirche was home to the 1827 funeral service of Ludwig van Beethoven! People on Caffeine (POC) isn't located in the nave, of course, but in the side of the building, which was once the mortuary...positively bizarre!

#2 Café Comet

Comet is a new-wave café in Vienna’s District 6, the fashionable Neubau. Instead of the Scandinavian-inspired design signifiers common with such places, Comet is more relaxed, with an effortless mishmash of artworks and furniture filling the high-ceilinged interior. Accordingly, the crowd tends to be a bit alternative and cerebral (philosophy students from the University of Vienna come here).

#3 Caffe vom See

Caffe vom See is a charming specialty cafe located in a side street off Naschmarkt, in the elegant District 4. The owner, who also manages a hotel and a cafe roastery at Lake Millstatt in Carinthia, aims for a style that delivers the heft of Italian-style espressos with the finesse of Austrian coffee traditions (filter coffee isn’t even served). Try to snag one of the two comfortable plush chairs by the windows and give it a try. Price points are the lowest within specialty coffee in Vienna. Laptops are welcome, wifi available.

#4 Kaffeefabrik (Mariahilf)

A pioneer of Viennese new-wave coffee, Kaffeefabrik is a small, laid-back cafe just off the main shopping street, Mariahilfer. As an unusual gesture even for a specialty cafe, customers can pick the beans and flavor profiles for their espresso-based or filter coffees. The service is kind and, space permitting, lingering welcome. Kaffeefabrik's original location is in District 4, near Karlsplatz, where their roastery is also located (but with little seating).

#5 Wolfgang Coffee

A true hipster paradise, this oversized corner store in the heart of Vienna’s bougie District 7 is home to a specialty café, an eco-friendly designer clothing store, and a tailoring workshop. The polished inside features Alvar Aalto-inspired midcentury chairs, overhead spotlights, lots of concrete, wood, and greenery. The designer items, mainly backpacks and men’s clothing, come with carefully labeled origin and sustainability tags. All this can feel comically exaggerated or adorably exemplary; I’m in the latter camp here. And coffee is excellent.

#6 Jonas Reindl Coffee Roasters

One of Vienna’s Mecca for new-wave coffee, Jonas Reindl is a sizable coffeeshop located where it belongs – the fashionable Neubau neighborhood of District 7. Accordingly, the signifiers of cool are written all over the place, almost comically so: sleek minimalist furnishings, blond wood finishes, hanging globe lamps, a hipster-heavy crowd.

#7 CoffeePirates

Located right across the University of Vienna's enormous Baroque-era campus in District 9, CoffeePirates is a lively hub of self-consciously chic students. Opened in 2012, Pirates was among the first specialty cafes and roasteries in the city and it’s still going so strong that finding a seat at this spacious and high-volume operation can be a challenge. If the baristas show you a bit of an attitude, rest assured knowing you’re not alone. Lingering is welcome, wifi available, prices a little steep.

#8 AGGYS Third-Wave Coffee

You’re here for both coffee and architecture: the building whose ground floor Aggys hides in was designed in 1904 by Otto Wagner, Austria’s most important architect. Originally built for a postal savings bank, it’s an important example of late-period Viennese Art Nouveau and a pilgrimage site for design fans.

#9 The Pelican Coffee Company

If you need a place to work from peacefully while sipping high-quality coffee, head to Pelican, located in a side street off Alser Straße in District 9 (in Pelikangasse – more street names like this, please). The inside is a little spare and lacks charm, but the service is always kind and pretense-free, the likely reason that elderly residents too hang out here in addition to the core clientele of MacBook-equipped thirtysomethings. Both espresso-based and filter coffees (V60, AeroPress, batch brew) are available, as are better-than-average sandwiches, croissants, and pastries.

#10 Balthasar Coffee Bar

Located across the Danube canal in the up-and-coming Leopoldstadt (District 2), Balthasar is a high-turnover community coffee shop, drawing elderly locals who come here to read the paper, young families with baby strollers, and a young and chic crowd armed with MacBook Pros. The coffee is distinctly new-wave and flavorful (espresso-based, batch brews, cold brews, handmade filters). The pastry offerings are more imaginative than elsewhere; the cheesecake is especially good.

#11 No Panic Coffee (Paniglgasse)

No Panic is a new-wave coffee shop chain in Vienna. The most extravagant of the company’s three locations is by the Technical University in District 4, behind Karlsplatz, where much of the immense interior space is left unused and feels like a very rich and very cool person’s kitchen.

#12 Knockbox

What used to be a sausage stand on Vienna’s Karlsplatz has transformed into a specialty cafe kiosk in 2018. The appeal here isn’t just the exemplary reuse of a public space but also the high-quality espresso-based coffees served at reasonable prices. You’ll have to drink it standing against the wooden counter, but that’s of course part of the experience. As is eavesdropping on engineering students who frequent Knockbox from the nearby university. Teas, beers, and pastries are also available.

#13 Caffe a Casa (Servitengasse)

Opened in 2011, Casa was a pioneer of new-wave coffee in Vienna and a sense of professionalism still pervades the premises: you order, the beans are carefully measured, ground, brewed, and the coffee elegantly presented. There are few seats here – not an ideal place to work from – but the counter behind the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the elegant Servitengasse is the coveted spot. Casa has three locations across town; this one is the original and the nicest.

#14 Phil

Part specialty café, part bookstore, part bar, Phil is a neighborhood institution in Mariahilf (District 6), near the city center. No matter the time of day, a young and fashionable crowd fills the bright interior furnished with vintage chairs and lighting fixtures. While mainly a coffee shop and breakfast restaurant, beer and wine-lovers appear in the evenings. The book selections include many English titles by current and historical authors including Michelle Obama, Stephen King, and Philip Roth. A more traditional café, Sperl, is located just across the street. Note: laptops aren’t welcome!

#15 Goldener Papagei

One of the more mainstream specialty cafes in Vienna, the Goldener Papagei is located in the coolest part Leopoldstadt (District 2), just across the Danube canal from the city center. The interior is spacious and polished and fitted with lots of plants. The coffee is light-roasted and available in all shapes, flavors, and sizes. Also: better-than-average service, pastries, and tea selections. Wifi is strong, laptops accepted.

#16 Brass Monkey

Little inside this tiny specialty cafe lining the main street of District 6 (Mariahilf) will remind you of Vienna: English-speaking staff, Brooklyn-inspired favorites like avocado toast and cupcakes, an interior complete with Edison light bulbs and other cliched fittings. But if you’ve tired of the Vienna's traditional cafés, their formal waiters, their flavorless espressos, then Brass Monkey can feel refreshingly welcome.

#17 The furniture cafe

The furniture cafe started out as an exhibition space where customers could buy the quirky chairs and sofas while sipping coffee. The company (das möbel) has since opened a proper furniture store and this space, along the fashionable Burggasse in District 7, transformed into a full-blown cafe. Still, no two tables or chairs are identical.

#18 Carl Ludwig Cafe

Furnished with predictable specialty-cafe decor – Eames plastic side chairs, subway tiles – and exuding little charm, there’s nothing especially unique about Carl Ludwig Cafe, but it’s one of the outlets for excellent coffee near Karlsplatz in District 4. The highlight is the outdoor terrace, overlooking the peaceful and green interior courtyard of a historical building. Students from the nearby University of Technology make up most customers. Lingering is welcome, wifi available.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. I also never accept money in exchange for coverage. But this means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider making a one-time payment (PayPal) or becoming an Offbeat Patron.