It's okay. Life will be good.

Table of contents

Introduction

A friend from undergrad came to visit Vienna. It felt so great catching up with her – which batchmate is dating which other batchmate, who is doing what in life, who got married, etc. On our way from Cafe Central to the U-bahn stop, she said, “You must find everything beautiful now that you are leaving soon.” I did not have a good reply to that, but since I finally went to Cafe Central, let’s start there…in a bit.

This essay will be a comprehensive review of every cafe I’ve been to 1 in Vienna so far. As of this writing, I’ve been to 30+ cafes, including Cafe Central. That is around the number I had in mind.

At this point, it seems pretty appropriate to state that I had a fantastic time in Vienna as far as the coffee culture is concerned. You can walk around the city and will pretty much find a cafe on every street. If you are not feeling great or having a rough day, you can step outside, go to a cafe, have a cup of coffee, and start feeling better.

I will miss the city very much, for its coffee, if not for anything else. I should note that the reviews are subjective, and you should explore them independently. However, I’ll feel awesome if my silly reviews help you. You can buy me a coffee if you’d like. Thank you!

Anyway, with the emotions and the disclaimer out of the way, let us finish the review.

You go to cafes a lot. – a friend in class.


Methodology

I got a list of the cafe I’ve been to by going through photos of coffee. For that, I searched for “coffee” on Google Photos. Since Google conveniently stores all location data, I could pinpoint the actual cafes I’ve been to using Google Maps and my memory. I might have missed a few cafes where I did not take a photo for whatever reason, but I think the current list pretty much has all the cafes I’ve been to. You should also regularly back up your photos.

For each cafe, I describe my general experience: what I liked, what I did not, what I did, and why I went there, depending on how much I could recall. And then finally provide a cafe score based on that.

The cafe score (CS) is a weighted average of three parameters: vibe $(v)$, aesthetic $(a)$, and price $(p)$.

The cafe score (CS) is calculated using the following formula:

\[CS = w_v * v + w_a * a + w_p * p * (-1)\]

Where,
vibe $(v)$ ranges from $1-10$, with $1$ being the worst, and $10$ being the best.
aesthetic $(a)$ ranges from $1-10$, with $1$ being the worst, and $10$ being the best.
price $(p)$ ranges from $1-10$, with $1$ being the least expensive, and $10$ being the most expensive, relatively. Everything is expensive here.

$w_v = 50\%$: vibe is very important.
$w_a = 20\%$: aesthetic is important, but if the vibes match, it’s secondary.
$w_p = 30\%$: I’m price-sensitive.
The $-1$ term is a penalty term. The more expensive, the more the penalty and the lesser the rating.

I shall assign a final cafe score for brevity and not disclose $v, a, p$ individually. That is left as a speculation exercise to the reader. (Yes, I have the Excel sheet where I made the calculations).


Cafes

Here is my verdict for each cafe I’ve been to. The order of the cafes doesn’t mean anything. As you will see, I have not ordered them based on anything. In fact, the highest-rated cafe is somewhere in between.

Have fun reading on. I hope it helps you in some way.

Cafe Central

Signature Cafe Central coffee.

Cafe Score: 3

I almost ended up not going here, and for good reason. I always saw a long queue when I’ve been around this place. It is one of the most touristy places in all of Vienna, perhaps only behind the St. Stephens Cathedral at Stephensplatz. Besides, I looked up the menu and did not find anything spectacular.

But since I acted as a tour guide to the previously mentioned friend, we ended up there about 30 minutes before the cafe’s closing time. Surprisingly, the queue wasn’t that long, maybe because it rained and was closing for the day. Anyway, the interiors of the place did not disappoint. There was a live piano, and the whole vibe was amazing. The food was fine, and their signature espresso drink was excellent.

I would probably not go back to the place unless someone pays for me or if Mom decides to visit Vienna someday. Then, maybe I’ll reconsider. If you are in Vienna, and you know that you might not be here again for a long time, then I suggest you visit the cafe – you can tell other people that you’ve been to Cafe Central then.


Anker WU

Generic coffee.

Cafe Score: 1.8

The cafe is located on campus at my university. Hence, I often go to the place because it is convenient. Skipped my breakfast? Go to Anker. Hungry in between classes? Go to Anker. The coffee here is absolutely devastating, but I get it anyway. I don’t know why.

If you study at WU, you’ll inevitably end up going here. If you are a tourist or study at other universities, you won’t go here, most likely. In fact, if you’re a tourist, there are so many other lovely places. You can skip Anker everywhere.

An exception is the long bread that they serve. It’s filling, looks healthy, and you can have it quickly between classes. Yeah, that’s about it – you can do without Anker too.


illy Caffe

The coffee was good. The book is good too.

Cafe Score: 3.7

I stumbled onto this place one evening while walking around Stephensplatz. The coffee was excellent. It would start my tumultuous time with a cappuccino topped with whipped cream. Sipping through the whipped cream – tasting the sweetness of the cream and the bitterness of the espresso beneath gives a sensation to the taste buds that can only be matched by a few other feelings.

The cafe was also where I wrote in my journal for the first time after coming to Vienna. I wrote, “I ordered myself a cup of Cappuccino Viennese. Everything here works, and the weather is beautiful… I actually love winter; I don’t sweat profusely and my skin also relaxes…”

It’s a cozy place that you can visit. Since the cafe is far from the city center, you can get there on foot in a few minutes.


News Cafe

I'm going to miss going to this place.

Cafe Score: 4.3

This is one of my favorite cafes in Vienna, partly because it is close to where I live and because they play very good songs to listen to while having breakfast. I frequently visited the cafe, wrote essays, and reflected on the state of my life.

The cafe is quite spacious, and I’ve never found it crowded, which is nice. The coffee is excellent, and the prices are reasonable. I also love their breakfast menu, even though a little pricey. The freshly squeezed orange juice is my favorite part of the breakfast menu.

It’s worth a visit if you are in Vienna. And you can walk the entire length of Mariahilfer Strasse after a good cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast.



Joseph Brot

Happiness in a cup.

Cafe score: 5.2

When I feel adventurous, I venture out, get off a random U-bahn or tram stop, and search for “Cafe near me” on Google Maps. That’s how I discovered this cafe. It did not disappoint.

I liked the vibe, looked at their food menu, and ordered just a cup of coffee. They gave me some sweetener other than sugar – it did not readily dissolve, so I had my coffee with bits of biscuit or something.

From what I could tell, the cafe is an excellent place to go on a date. Almost every table had some couple engaged in seemingly intimate conversation, except mine. Fantastic vibe and mad aesthetics.


Cafe Lorenz

I don't recommend this place.

Cafe score: 1.6

I don’t remember much from here, other than that I went here after submitting my passport-sized-very-serious-looking photo for my health insurance card.

It was an average place by every measure. The vibes were off; the aesthetics can be described as couches and tables. The price was reasonable from what I remember.

Unless you wander around like me or are a local, chances are you’d never stumble upon this place, and that’s a good thing.


Starbucks Neubaugasse

I had Firefox browser then, for some reason.

Cafe score: 4.3

Like every other Starbucks, it has reliable WiFi, a standard menu across locations with a few seasonal variations, and a friendly vibe.

You cannot go wrong here. If you have been to a Starbucks before, you may feel nothing different except the crowd. You’d find old and young couples kissing, talking over a cup of coffee, and people working on their laptops.

It’s pretty incredible. There is a sense of ease – knowing that even if I’m running late for a call or a virtual date, I’ll get to have a decent coffee in a pleasant atmosphere.


Cafe & Restaurant Coretto

That biscuit tasted amazing!

Cafe score: -0.7

I went to this place to celebrate that I finally managed to pick up the residence permit card, meaning I could continue studying in Austria legally. It meant a lot to me after going through the paperwork, emailing many people and offices, talking to countless people, sleepless nights, etc.

But the cafe was a disappointment. It was a rainy day, with quite a heavy snow. As I walked into the place, they gave me a look that said I did belong there. The coffee tasted generic, and the food was as bland as any food could be.

Perhaps the best part about the cafe was the fresh tap water that they offered with the coffee. If you’re in Vienna and are considering going to this place, DON’T.


Vienna Bagels

I had salmon for the first time in my life.

Cafe score: 4.9

Here I had salmon for the first time ever. I loved the bagels, and the whole breakfast was wholesome. It’s a small business run by a family – the father and daughters seemed quite excited to serve food to hungry morning people.

The place is quite cozy, clean, and very aesthetic. It’s one of my favorite places in Vienna. Although I’ve visited the place only once, mainly because it’s far from my home, I’d recommend it.

The coffee – the main attraction is also pretty good.


Tesla Coffee & Concept

I don't know why the cafe is called that.

Cafe score: 2.8

No, as far as I know, the cafe is not owned by Tesla. But they have excellent breakfast options, and the coffee is good too. I went here for the first time to attend a call with a friend and had tea. Things are a bit pricey, though, and there’s not a lot of space and vibe going on.

I had a hard time finishing the pot of tea, but it was delicious (if that’s a word one can use for tea). In fact, I probably had tea more times here than coffee.

One day I decided to taste the honey they gave with tea as a sweetener. It’s the best thing I had here so far, by a large margin. I ended up licking the entire cup. If you’ve never tasted honey, you should.


GOTA Coffee Experts

You should read the 2022 reflection.

Cafe score: 4.6

I stumbled onto this place one sunny wintry Sunday while walking along the Mariahilfer Strasse. As I often do, after walking a certain distance, I searched for “Cafe near me.” Google’s (ad) magic led me here and did not disappoint.

I ordered a salmon bagel and cappuccino if I recall. The bagel with the mashed avocado is one of the tastiest bagels I’ve ever had. The place is crowded on most good days, but one good thing about going to cafes alone is that you can find an empty space here and there and have an excellent time.

The vibe here is immaculate, I love the texture of the tables, and the whole place, with its coffee bags for sale and other stuff, is quite aesthetic. If I ever decide to run a cafe, I’m picking up an inspiration or two from here.


Bakery Cafe Felzl

The croissant was good.

Cafe score: 2.6

I did not spend a long time here. I was on an evening walk, and then I craved some coffee, so I had some coffee with a croissant. Yeah, that was pretty much it – I went home after that.

There was nothing remarkable about the place, although it wasn’t bad per se. I’d say the vibe is pretty much similar to Anker. The cafe itself wasn’t aesthetic, but the surrounding buildings were.

You can see horse carts, couples happy around each other, and crowded restaurants walking to and from this place.


Waldemar - Tagesbar

Basic.

Cafe score: 1.3

After a long walk in the Schonnbrunn Palace Park, I went to this place. I could have gone to a better place because I could tell I wouldn’t like the vibe as soon as I walked in.

If I remember correctly, I had a burger, which wasn’t remarkable or anything. The coffee was okay; for some reason, the place was crowded. I imagine they were also tourists like me.

Anyway, Google might show a very high rating for the place, but I’m not sure if you should go there if you got other choices. The usefulness of Google reviews is a topic for another essay.


Zucchero

Cash issues.

Cafe score: 1.4

If you cannot find a place at GOTA Coffee Experts, this is the place you go. Or at least that is what I did. It is about a minute’s walk from GOTA and is never crowded.

And one can understand why. It is pretty tiny, nothing remarkable in terms of vibe and aesthetics. However, to be fair, the coffee is pretty good. I went here a few times – precisely because GOTA was overcrowded on those days.

The only annoying part is that they do not take card payments. And since I never carry cash, I had to go to the ATM a few times. Again, I should have asked them before drinking their coffee, but annoying nonetheless.


Jonas Reindl

I recommend this place.

Cafe score: 4.6

The first time I went here was to meet two Indians, almost immediately after I came to Vienna. Talking to them about the Residence Permit struggles over a great cup of coffee relieved some of my stress. The pain diminishes when people tell you they can relate to your struggles.

The place is flawless, and the vibes are unmatched, even though it is not very spacious. The coffee tastes amazing, and they have decent cakes too.

However, food isn’t the main attraction here. From what I could tell, people mainly go for the vibe and the coffee. They also have a large mirror outside, allowing you to peek inside your soul after a cup of coffee.


Library Cafe & Roastery WU Wien

This photo looks so good. Didn't expect that.

Cafe score: 2.6

After the disappointments at Anker, I thought this on-campus cafe would be another disappointment. So, I did not have a lot of expectations going in. But it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

The coffee was nice, although the vibes did not match, and the place is quite basic in aesthetics.

I visited this place a few times just because it is on campus. One time it started raining, so I walked in and ordered myself a cup of coffee, just not to seem rude – if I owned a cafe, and someone came in, I’d expect them to place an order. 2


ihana

The most beautiful coffee cup I've seen so far.

Cafe score: 2.9

To further prove the point 2, I ordered a brownie with a cup of coffee here. The coffee cup is the most beautiful cup I’ve seen in Vienna. The coffee was good, too.

The place had okay vibes, it was aesthetic, and they had the most beautiful sachet of sugar. Needless to say, I was impressed.

I wonder why I did not revisit this place; perhaps it was the price of the coffee. Maybe I will, before leaving Vienna, now that I have written about it.


McDonald’s Messe Wien

Cake was meh, coffee was okay.

Cafe score: 3.7

An excellent place to pick up a decent cup of coffee before class, with good vibes and okay pricing. The aesthetics do not stand out – it’s like every other McD.

McCafe coffee is better than Anker, and this place is about 4 minutes walk from my classroom. I love that the university and the professors do not object to students drinking coffee in class. It makes the class so much more enjoyable.

The billing screen is quite the guilt trip. Whenever I order, it asks me whether I want to round up my bill and donate to charity. And every single time I press “Not Today.”


Johann Strauss VIE Airport

I don't know why I got coffee here. But I also kind of know why I got coffee here.

Cafe score: 0.8

The place was very crowded, like any other airport shop. The best thing about the coffee here might be the cup, but that’s about it.

The vibe was meh at best, there’s no aesthetic whatsoever, but the items were pricey. But what else could one expect at the airport?

Anyway, I had their coffee because I did not sleep well the night before, packed until the last minute, and needed to stay up until I took my seat in the aircraft.

Compared to that, I loved the in-flight coffee. I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t care what anyone thinks; I love airplane coffee.

In fact, I liked the in-flight coffee so much that I opened my laptop and drafted the project proposal for a course – to “investigate the willingness to pay for a good cup of coffee on some international flights.” Fun times! 3


Zizis Cafe

Threatening scenes.

Cafe score: 1.9

I was waiting to collect my luggage from a friend and went here to pass the time. I did not have any expectations whatsoever.

Well, having low expectations worked brilliantly for me. The vibe felt threatening, even though none cared about me – people were pretty drunk and doing drunk people’s business.

The coffee was okay; I liked the whipped cream. The place was relatively small, so there was nothing you could call aesthetic. Or maybe it was late at night, so I could not see much.


Weltcafe

I also recommend this place.

Cafe score: 3.9

I found this cafe by searching for “best cafe to study in Vienna” on Google. In fact, when I forgot the cafe’s name, I used the same search terms to re-discover the place.

I cannot tell you if it is the best place to study, but they have good food and coffee. My favorite thing to order here is a Dal bowl with bread. The bread is so good, probably the best thing they serve here.

The vibes are great, the place looks aesthetic, and they have good WiFi. The only downside is that you can’t pay using a card unless your order exceeds 15 euros.

Yeah, but it’s probably not the place to go if you want to study seriously. Go to a library or something.


phil

The no-screen policy is good for reading and writing.

Cafe score: 4.9

This is the place to go if you want to do some quiet reflection or read a book. They have a no-screen policy, meaning using laptops, tablets, etc., is discouraged.

I improved my handwriting here because I made quite a few journal entries. The vibes were so good; I could feel the words flowing through the pen onto the pages.

The coffee is excellent too, and the place is surrounded by books. I love books even though I haven’t been reading them lately. It’s like a vast bookstore where they serve coffee and drinks on the side.

If you’re in Vienna, then the place is worth a visit. If not for anything else, go for the aesthetic photos.


burg.ring1

Northeastern India. Full of character.

Cafe score: 2.9

A very aptly named cafe. I discovered it one day when I decided to hop on the bus, get off at the last stop (I had to), and then look for a cafe. I got on bus 57A, which goes to Burgring.

I was excited to see they had Assam Tea on the menu (or something about Northeast India), so I ordered a Lemon Tea. I thought it would be something fancy.

It was not; they just gave me a cup of boiling water, a tea bag, and some lemon juice. But it was good. I loved the drink. So much so that I decided to buy a few tea bags and lemons. Now, I brew great lemon tea at home at $1/10^{th}$ the price.


Coffeepirates

That book is hilarious.

Cafe score: 4.2

This is one of those cafes where you walk by and think, “Let me go in and check what the commotion is about.” The place is almost always crowded because of the student population nearby.

They have good coffee and charging spots – student favorites. You can see a lot of students with their fancy laptops pretending to work (yes, I’m one of them).

The place has fantastic vibes; although it’s not aesthetic, it doesn’t look bad.


Cafe Eiles

See how empty it is.

Cafe score: 4.9

Going with the theme of procrastination, I boarded the bus a few minutes late, even though I had nothing better to do on the day I was supposed to go for a tour of the Austrian Parliament.

Unsurprisingly, the tour group had left when I got to the Parliament. So, to wash that pain away and save some sanity, I walked around, and went to this cafe.

The pot of tea that they offered was excellent. The place looked very fancy and super aesthetic, the chairs and tables were very fancy, and the place was very empty. I guess most people get intimidated and do not walk in, thinking it would be costly.

But, the tea was not expensive at all. It was nice having a whole part of a room all to myself. I could keep my jacket on one chair, my schoolbag on another, and my sunglasses on yet another and be left with one nice chair to sit on. The point is that there was so much space. I loved it.


J. Hornig Kaffeebar

Don't have signs on the floor!

Cafe score: 3.6

I discovered this cafe quite late in my stay in Vienna. The cafe has two sections – one no-screens section and another section where you can use your laptop.

I started using my laptop in the no-laptop section, and the lady was immensely annoyed. In my defense, they had the “no laptop” sign on the floor, so I did not see it. I mean, who even looks at the floor while walking? That’s such a 20th-century behavior.

The coffee is excellent here, and the place looks very aesthetic too. I love that it’s not very crowded and naturally well-lit.


Barista Cats

Cats!

Cafe score: 4.9

Someone in the “Indian Students in Austria” WhatsApp group texted about this cafe, so I had to go and check it out. Historically, I had always stayed away from animals, and for good reason.

I like cats. Anyway, I went to the cafe twice, thinking I’d play with the cats, but I did not because I could not find an empty table.

But the coffee here is great. As you can already tell, I really liked the cafe, and it is one of the inspirations for my own cafe (if I start one in the future).


Cafe LIEBEN WIR Coffee Concept Store

Best coffee shop! So inspirational.

Cafe score: 5.2

As much as I liked Barista Cats Cafe, this is my biggest inspiration for the cafe I will open in the future. I walked into this place and immediately fell in love with it.

The place had coffee books by James Hoffmann. I knew I had come to the right place when I saw them. You can also buy them for me if you wish. Here is the link. Thank you!

The cafe had the best vibe because it was utterly empty, looked beautiful, and served a great cup of coffee with cookies. It was a lovely rainy afternoon.


Vapiano Herrengasse

I still wish they gave me the card.

Cafe score: 2.4

My friend wanted pizza, so we went to the nearest place that served decent pizza. Since this essay is not about pizza, and I’m not a pizza person, I will conveniently skip that part.

The coffee was okay, but the place was crowded, as you’d expect with restaurant chains. The story is similar to McDonald’s – the place did not have a character of its own, and the layouts are generic, but that is not to say that it looked terrible. And the place is expensive.

The best part about the place was the cards they handed out to us. Turns out that’s where they add your order, which you can tap and then pay when you’re leaving. I wish they had let me take the card, but they did not. 4


Summary

I probably had the best year of my life, so far, in Vienna. But I’m not sad or anything. It has been a great learning experience. Once I turn in my MSc thesis, I’ll write about the learnings and all that later.

So, make sure you subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to know as soon as I write something.

Thank you for reading till this point. I will focus on finishing my thesis over the next few weeks. I’m sure I’ll need many cups of coffee in that endeavor. You can support me by buying me a coffee.

If you are new here, please check out other essays.


Notes

  1. It includes every cafe I’ve been to, where I’ve taken a photo. 

  2. I don’t know why I am like that. I keep telling myself that it’s okay not to get any side item with coffee, but almost always, I get something thinking, “They might think I’m being rude.” In reality, none probably cares.  2

  3. The survey takers turned out to be quite rational. A high or low anchor did not affect the WTP much. People were unwilling to pay much for a coffee in-flight. So, it might just be me who enjoys airplane coffee. (To be clear, I also did not pay; it was included in my ticket, apparently. Who doesn’t like a surprise at 30,000+ ft?) 

  4. I love credit card-sized cards; I don’t know why. 


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