Pass more than a few hours in Vienna, and you’ll soon learn that coffee is an essential part of the fabric of the city. A fact confirmed by the annual Vienna Coffee Festival.
- A celebration of coffee, with tastings, displays, demonstrations, related products, and more
- Also features street food, other drinks, and live music
- 2024 dates: TBA (was Sept 8-10 in 2023)
- See also:
What’s it all about?
(Live coffee creativity in 2022; press photo courtesy of Vienna Coffee Festival)
Technically, coffee might be described as a simple drink. Much like you could call an iPhone a communication device.
But there’s so much more to it than that.
Coffee is part of Viennese society…rooted in tradition, yet a vibrant part of modern city culture.
Which is where the Vienna Coffee Festival comes in. Consider it a celebration of the coffee bean and its contribution to (Viennese) life.
Don’t expect lectures by white-haired historians on the role of Loos architecture in driving café society in the early 1900s. The coffee festival is a contemporary celebration: the coffee is hot, the company is cool.
On my trip (2023), for example, I entered the event hall to be a met by a vibrant, at times noisy, atmosphere and a buzz any caffeinated beverage would be proud of.
You get plenty of opportunity to taste a range of coffees from both well-known brands and smaller independent roasters and suppliers; some where coffee seems as much an art form or lifestyle choice as an actual beverage.
(No dried instant coffee from a jar, consumption of which invokes a mandatory 30-day prison sentence in Austria.)
(Breathe in the aroma)
All the stall holders were happy to chat and impart advice and insight into the joys of the bean. The schedule also typically includes demonstrations of the barista’s art and professional competitions.
Various stands showcased coffee-related products, too.
I spotted bean-inspired jewellery, for example, as well as the expected grinders, frothers and similar for home; many espresso machines would not have looked out of place in the engineering room of some giant steam-powered space juggernaut.
And rounding it all off: street food (pasta, wraps, waffles, burgers, burritos and more on my visit) and live music. Even alternative beverages, including beer and wine should anyone wish to swap the café ambience for a bar or Heuriger.
The myriad of coffee varieties left me wishing I could devote more time to delving into the possibilities. Sadly, the day only has so many hours, and the next great Austrian novel won’t write itself.
The venue for early festivals was the premises of Ottakringer brewery, which – surprise – produces beer, but also hosts a range of events through the year, such as its own Bierfest or the rum and gin festivals.
However, the event has now shifted to the Marx Halle: a popular event hall in a converted 19th-century cattle market building.
Dates, tickets & tips
I don’t have dates yet for 2024. For the record, the previous event ran from September 8th to 10th.
You can normally book tickets from the official website or buy on the day on-site if not sold out.
Given the return to the Marx Halle, try these suggestions for nearby hotels. And should you wish to drink coffee before or after in its more traditional Viennese habitat, consider those coffee houses mentioned earlier.
How to get to the coffee festival
Public transport gets you to the Marx Halle easily, with a bit of walking at the end. The location lies in the third district among media and biotech companies.
Subway: the U3 stations Schlachthausgasse and Erdberg are a few minutes’ walk away. The U3 passes through the centre (jump on at Stephansplatz or Herrengasse, for example)
Address: Karl-Farkas-Gasse 19, 1030 Vienna