Coffee Culture in Europe
We could say that coffee is a universal beverage, popular all around the world. Coffee is probably the first beverage we grab when we wake up and want to feel energized, but there are differences in the way we consume it in different countries. How do people drink coffee in Europe, why do they love it so much, and which European cities have the best coffee culture? We’ll also share some of our favorite cafés in Europe, so keep reading to find out!
Which European Cities Offer the Best Coffee Experience?
Europeans love their coffee! It’s not just about the taste and the energy it gives you, but also about the ritual of sitting down and slowly enjoying your cup of this magical beverage, possibly while chatting with a group of friends.
If you travel to a city with a strong coffee culture, you simply have to visit at least one of its best coffeehouses and try to blend in among the locals as best you can.
Have you ever wondered which country is the leader in coffee consumption? No, it’s not Italy, it’s Finland! Each Finn consumes about 12 kilograms of this divine beverage each year, which is more than double what Italians drink. Wonder why? We’re guessing it’s because of their long and dark winters…
Coffee, or kahvi in Finnish, was more about quantity than quality in Finland, until recently when a lot of new coffeehouses opened in the capital. They’re mostly hip places, decorated in the classic minimalistic Scandinavian style that attracts so many tourists who visit Helsinki. Even if you find yourself in some other Finnish location, you will stumble upon a great café where you can relax and enjoy a cup of your favorite beverage.
If you’re wondering what to order, a classic Americano is always a good choice. Be sure to add Korvapuusti — a sweet cinnamon roll — to your order, and dip it in your coffee just like Finns do.
If you are in Helsinki and looking for a place that connects tradition with modernity, we can highly recommend Fazer Café Glogatan. The café dates back to 1891, when Karl Fazer first opened a French-Russian Confectionery in Helsinki. A few years later, he met his wife in a – café – and together they established the still popular café.
Vienna is well known for its coffee culture, which has been popular for centuries. Many famous Viennese artists, especially writers, have worked at cafés. The buzzing coffeehouses were their favorite spots to mingle with fellow artists, and, to this day, the Viennese consider some cafés as their second living room.
There are all kinds of cafés all around Vienna. Some of them are old and traditional, and some are more modern, hip places where you can try different kinds of coffee — there are special mixes, cold brews, and more. When you get to a café in Vienna, you’ll see so many options on the menu! If you’ve never visited Vienna before, you probably won’t have an idea what to order. We recommend a Melange — a Viennese classic similar to a cappuccino, topped with half foamed milk and half hot milk. Another great option is Einspänner, topped with whipped cream, and if you fancy an Americano simply ask for a Verlängerter (“longer”).
No matter which café and coffee you choose, enjoying a cup of your choice in the Austrian capital will be a unique social experience among the locals.
Coffee Culture: Our 5 Favorite Cafés in Vienna
The vast options of cafés can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we have put together a list of our five favorite places in Vienna to sip your café latte, so enjoy!
360° Ocean Sky
If you are looking for a spot with undoubtedly the best 360° view over Vienna and the most stunning location to watch the sun set behind the Vienna hills, then 360° Ocean Sky is the perfect place to be! Situated on top of the Haus des Meeres (aqua terra zoo) at a height of more than 50m, the highest rooftop restaurant/café in central Vienna provides a really unique experience. By the way, did you know that the whole building used to be an anti-aircraft tower?
It doesn’t matter if you want to grab a drink after visiting the Haus des Meeres or if you only want to come by for the sundowner, 360° Ocean Sky is always worth a visit. Don’t forget to pull out your phone while marveling at Vienna from above, this view is as instagrammable as it can get!
360° Ocean Sky
What about a cup of coffee with a view over the rooftops of Vienna?
When talking about our favorite places for a cup of coffee, Hildebrandt Café must not be missing from our list! Where should we start? With its gorgeous rose garden right next to Schönborn Park that truly feels like a green oasis in the middle of the 8th district? Or with its cute interior, or its rustic winter garden that allows you to enjoy garden views even on rainy days? We suggest you go there and see for yourself. As Hildebrandt Café is also part of the Volkskundemuseum, you can combine your museum visit with enjoying a delicious organic coffee right afterwards. We highly suggest making a reservation though, as the best seats are always quickly taken.
We love the garden at Hildebrandt Café!
If you are strolling through the first district and want to escape the city buzz for a bit, Kleines Café at Franziskanerplatz is our favorite hideaway. Enjoy the sunshine on one of the tables in front of the café, or find yourself a cozy spot in the literally quite small, traditional café, watch people passing by and enjoying your Melange. By the way, did you know that the café was also one of the main locations in the film “Before Sunrise”?
What about going to a café and a bookstore all in one? Yes, you’ve heard right, in Vienna you can combine your quest for the next page-turner with enjoying a cup of coffee at phil. Browse through a book of your choice, check out the vinyl collection, or admire the cute retro furniture, an afternoon at phil is definitely an afternoon well spent.
Gumpendorfer Straße 10-12
phil combines both coffee shop and book store.
Now we’ve already mentioned how you can combine a trip to a bookstore with a café visit, let’s take it further and introduce to you Burggasse 24, a unique blend between a café and a vintage store! What about some thrift shopping, and, once you’re tired from trying on all the clothes, relaxing with a soothing cup of coffee? Definitely sounds like a plan to us! Pay also attention to the cool interior of the café, Burggasse 24 is clearly a place like no other.
French people also consume a lot of coffee — approximately 5.4 kilograms per year. You might think it’s a lot, but it’s actually quite normal for a Parisian.
People in Paris love to enjoy their cup of coffee slowly, without a rush. So when in Paris, you should definitely participate in this coffee culture. When you order your first coffee in the morning, prepare yourself for not just a cup, but sometimes even a bowl of coffee!
You’re probably wondering why they serve it in a bowl, just like we did. As breakfast coffee is often served with croissants, getting it in a bowl makes it easier to dip your crispy croissants in it!
Have you ever had such a breakfast? It’s a unique experience, indeed. And don’t forget to enjoy people-watching while you’re sipping your coffee, it’s one of the most popular activities in Paris.
We recommend sipping a delicious coffee while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere at Aux Folies. The café is named after an 18th-century watering hole at the gates of Paris, in the then-rural quarter of Courtille. Today, the outlook is a little less bucolic – the rows of vines have been replaced by winding streets, but the area still packs a distinct buzz, so check it out!
Coffee in Istanbul is a bit different than in Western European countries. Just as the city represents a mixture of East and West, the coffee culture is a mix of European, Greek, and Armenian cultures.
Here you can try traditional Turkish coffee, which is nothing like the espresso that you might be used to. Turkish coffee is made with finely ground coffee, boiled with water and sugar if you prefer it sweet, and served in a small copper pot called a cezve.
Another interesting fact is that coffee is also tied to a few traditional Turkish customs and is used for fortune-telling. Once the cup is empty, you turn it upside down onto the saucer and leave it like that for a bit. Later, a fortune-teller takes the cup and reads your future from the patterns made by the coffee grounds left on the bottom of the cup.
If you find yourself in a coffeehouse in Istanbul, order Turk Kahvesi, which is a traditional Turkish brew. It is often served with lokum, a traditional Turkish delight with different flavors, such as rosewater, mastic, bergamot orange, or lemon.
A hidden gem to enjoy your coffee in Istanbul is Mandabatmaz. Rated as one of the best coffee shops in town, this café located in a quiet side street off of Istiklal is our favorite place to enjoy delicious and authentic Turkish coffee.
Whatever your European destination might be, you’ll have some great options for enjoying a nice cup of coffee. Europeans really know how to make the most of this fine beverage, and if you’re a coffee lover you’ll be on cloud nine! Still want to know more? We recommend this article about coffee culture around the world!
If you’re into exploring the world digitally, check out our latest tour guide, and enjoy:
Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Vienna
This tour covers historical highlights, reveals fascinating stories, and takes you down a few cobblestone streets that most visitors never see.