The colour pink has numerous associations, but in Vienna it conjures up images of two city stalwarts: the Manner hazelnut wafer and the Aida chain of cafés. The latter promises reasonably-priced coffee and enough cakes and pastries to fill a fluffy unicorn.
- Famous for its distinctive branding
- Outlets throughout Vienna
- A Konditorei (confectionery) and café
- A touch cheaper than most of the well-known independent coffee houses
- See also: Vienna coffee houses | The Konditorei
A local review
With over 25 locations in Vienna, the Aida chain of cafés is an integral part of the city landscape. But this is not a traditional coffee house in the style of a Central or Hawelka.
For starters, Aida is more of a Konditorei and café, reflecting the company’s origins as a purveyor of fine confectionery back in the early 20th century.
The founder (Josef Prousek) started out with small premises in 1913 before expanding production to become the Chocolaterie u. Gross-Konditorei AIDA in 1921.
Aida’s subsequent history often intertwined with that of the country. For example, it famously produced doughnuts and ice cream for US troops in occupied Vienna post-WWII and was the first to install an espresso machine…thereby kicking off the city’s café-Konditorei tradition that runs alongside the coffee house one.
The company’s foundations in the world of pastries and sweet slices of joy is a good thing if you’re into cake with a side order of coffee, rather than coffee with a side order of cake. (My wife assures me the selection is excellent.)
Inside an Aida, you won’t find dark niches with upholstered furniture and marble tables. Instead, the locations tend to have a retro feel to them reminiscent of the 50s, 60s, or 70s, with plastic and glass dominating.
Nor do the staff wear the elegant black and white outfits of the coffee house. My (very friendly) waiter at the Opernring outlet bore his trays of sachertorte and cappuccinos dressed all in white, like a pastry chef, albeit with a pink collar. The waitress wore a pink skirt and white top.
Pink is very much the Aida colour and it’s everywhere, particularly in the logo, tabletops, and awnings that front the café.
The chain is popular with locals and enjoys a reputation as an excellent rendezvous for ladies of a certain age to swap stories over a reasonabky-priced coffee. The cappuccino certainly passed my quality test and arrived with an excellent froth on top.
Should you be a little intimidated by Vienna’s coffee menus, then Aida might be a life saver – their menu uses cutaway images of coffee cups to show you exactly what goes into each option. So if the thought of a double espresso with steamed milk, all topped with whipped cream, intrigues you, then you know to order an “Aida Melange”.
Another bonus is the option to buy Gusto Stückerl and Petits Fours, which mean smaller versions of cakes for those with more curiosity than appetite. And on top of the cakes and coffees, Aida has an all-day breakfast menu, salads, soups, sandwiches, snacks, ice cream, etc..
Is an Aida the best place to sit in timeless elegance with a book of poetry? Probably not. But for a decent cup of coffee and a great piece of cake that won’t cost the earth, it does an excellent job.
How to get to an Aida
As a chain, Aida has numerous outlets throughout the city, including one on Stephansplatz near the cathedral.
The one I went to most recently was at Opernring 7, above Karlsplatz subway station (on the U1, U2 and U4 lines). The location has a certain resonance given the name of the café chain: sit outside and enjoy the view of the State Opera House on the other side of the road.
Address: all over Vienna | Website