Austria is a beautiful country to visit if you have the chance. But if a vacation isn’t in the budget, treat yourself to Vienna coffee instead. This delightful drink pairs rich espresso with a substantial layer of whipped cream for a simple but indulgent drink. It is available in most coffee shops and easy to make at home.
Let’s learn all about it in this short guide.
What is Viennese Coffee?
Many coffee drinks are popular in the Austrian capital of Vienna, but ‘Vienna coffee’ usually refers to espresso topped with abundant whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder. They serve it in a tall glass with a handle.
In many coffee shops worldwide, the term “Vienna-style” means that you should add whipped cream to a drink.
In Vienna, this drink is the Einspänner, the German word for a one-horse carriage. Once upon a time, this drink was designed for the city’s carriage drivers. The handled glass made it easy to hold and drink while driving and the layer of whipped cream served to keep the espresso warm during chilly Vienna evenings.
Viennese Coffee Shop Culture
Vienna is known worldwide for its vibrant coffee shop culture, and it forms an integral part of the national identity. UNESCO even award the Vienna coffee house the designation of Intangible Cultural Heritage (1). Going to a Viennese cafe is an experience to be appreciated and savored, not a place to grab a coffee to go.
Anthony Cournia, who runs an American cafe designed in the Austrian model, explains the concept (2).
It’s less about speed and getting people in and out. The ambiance, music and vibe are all meant to keep people here.
Viennese coffee houses typically boast a long list of drinks, many unique to the country. Along with the Einspanner, popular orders include the Melange, the Kleiner Schwarzer and Grosser Schwarzer, and the Franziskaner. Espresso drinks are traditionally served formally on a silver platter, always accompanied by a small glass of water to cleanse the palate.
A Viennese Coffee Recipe
Many recipes for Viennese coffee call for chocolate similar to a mocha, but this is not a part of the authentic drink. It can be served either hot or iced.
What You Need
- Double shot of espresso
- 1 ounce hot water
- 4 ounces whipping cream
- 1 Tbs powdered sugar (optional)
- Cocoa powder
How to Make Vienna Coffee
Now, here’s our step-by-step guide on how to make Viennese aka Vienna coffee.
1. Combine two shots of espresso and hot water.
Combine the double shot of espresso and the hot water in a glass with a handle. If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can use 4 ounces of strong brewed coffee, as in this video recipe, which uses a Moka pot:
2. Whip the cream.
Whip using a whisk or electric egg beater until it has stiff peaks. Add the optional powdered sugar to the cream as you whip it for the sweetened whipped cream.
3. Put the whipped cream over the espresso.
Top the espresso with whipped cream so that the layer of cream is about equal in size to the layer of coffee.
4. Sprinkle your drink with cocoa powder.
Finish it off with a dusting of cocoa powder or some chocolate shavings.
Viennese Coffee vs. Espresso con Panna
Of the many different coffee drinks, espresso con panna is the most similar to Viennese coffee. It means “espresso with cream” in Italian and depending on the preparation; it can be identical to a Viennese coffee. Indeed, in many regions outside of Italy, an espresso con panna is known as a Viennois.
The espresso con panna is a single or double espresso topped with an equal amount of whipped cream. Compared with a Viennese coffee, the espresso in an espresso con panna is never diluted with water, and brewed coffee isn’t a valid substitute.
Although it tastes decadent, Viennese coffee is a simple drink to make at home. It’s an easy way to enjoy a taste of the famous Viennese coffee culture without breaking the bank on a flight to Austria. We recommend enjoying it as you would in Vienne. Take your time, savor the experience, and perhaps indulge in an accompanying strudel or piece of Sachertorte.
Is Viennese coffee healthy?
Viennese coffee is healthy in some ways. Coffee is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; whipped cream includes essential nutrients like potassium, B12, calcium, and vitamin D, and it has no added sugar. However, this drink is high in fat and calories because a half-cup of whipped cream has 200 calories and 20 g of fat.
What is a marocchino?
A marocchino is another drink that includes espresso and cocoa powder, but the resemblance to the Vienna coffee ends there. Created in Italy, the marocchino combines espresso and steamed milk with cocoa topping. Hot chocolate is added to the espresso for an extra sweet treat in many cases.
What is an Irish coffee?
Irish coffee is a coffee drink that combines brewed coffee with brown sugar and Irish whisky. Like the Vienna coffee, it is then served topped with whipped cream. The Irish coffee recipe is a popular seasonal treat, often served around Christmas.
- UNESCO. (2011, November). Viennese Coffee House Culture. Retrieved from https://www.unesco.at/en/culture/intangible-cultural-heritage/national-inventory/news-1/article/viennese-coffee-house-culture
- Gray, K. (2018, May 21). An Ode to the Viennese Coffee Shop. Retrieved from https://www.tastingtable.com/695246/viennese-coffee-shop-culture/