Dominating Viennese coffee houses are three companies, all of which have their origins in the Imperial Hapsburg court. They have become world renowned for their irresistible desserts, and have even led to the creation of specifically named cakes.
Demel is the oldest of these Imperial cake companies. It was first established in 1786 and has been inextricably linked to the Hofburg Palace for centuries.
Located on the Kohlmarkt, close to the Hofburg Palace, its cakes were frequently delivered to the Imperial Court.
Emperor Franz Joseph I used to write love letters about its sweet treats. His Empress Elisabeth adored Demel’s violet sorbet. It remains an official cake supplier to the Hofburg Palace and is renowned for its creativity.
Store displays focus on the use of confectionery art, a traditional Viennese style. Quite apart from its own cake creations such as its Anna torte. The Anna torte is a moist chocolate cake layered with Paris Cream, nougat, and orange liquor.
There is also the Fachertorte with apples, walnuts, poppy seeds and plum jam. It also has its own version of the Sacher-Torte resulting in considerable debate within Vienna as to which is better: the original Sacher-Torte or the Demel Sacher-Torte.
A fascinating feature of the Demel Coffee House is the way in which diners can relax with their cake and coffee, while watching the confectioners at work through a glass wall in the back of the café. Seeing Demel pastry chefs performing the Strudel Dough Stretch is quite amazing.
Café Sacher is undoubtedly a world famous cake haven. Situated within the Hotel Sacher, only two minutes from the Albertina, this is the home of the original Viennese Sacher-Torte. The Viennese Sacher Torte is a delicious confection of chocolate and cream devised by an apprentice chef.
Originally opened by hotelier Karl Irresburger in 1866, it is now one of the most historic of all the coffee houses within Vienna. This opulent café exudes elegance and heritage. Café Sacher is one of the most popular coffee houses in the city.
Apart from enjoying a slice of Sacher-Torte (still made to the original recipe), it is worth taking a look at some of the more unusual specialties such as the Pharisaer. Pharisaer is a mixture of coffee, rum and whipped cream, which links back to old traditions.
On Sundays, a local priest used to include the evils of alcohol in his sermons. The local people listened, and then concealed their rum by adding it to coffee under a layer of whipped cream. When the priest discovered this, he called them Pharisees.
Gerstner Coffee House
Equally irresistible is the Gerstner Coffee House, just three minutes walk from the Albertina museum and gallery in the Hofburg.
Founded nearly 170 years ago by Anton and Barbara Gerstner, his Viennese coffee house is renowned for its sweet temptations and cake masterpieces. Once a supplier of sweet treats to the Imperial Hapsburg Court, Gerstner now supplies the Vienna State Opera House and the Vienna Music Society.
Long queues are not unknown as locals and visitors alike seek out the delicious cakes, pastries and chocolates. Choose the bar if you want just a coffee and a decadent cream cake, but for a longer stay, the café itself is something special.
A background of soft piano music sets the scene for the elegant surroundings and attentive service. Booking one of the Gerstner Salon Privés for a special celebration gives access to some of the most breathtaking venues in the city.
Opulently decorated with gilded wood paneling, incredible ceiling frescos and glittering chandeliers, it brings the ambiance of the Imperial era to life.