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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > June 2018 > ON THE COFFEE TRAIL

ON THE COFFEE TRAIL

Four fantastic countries for a caffeine boost

From its discovery in Ethiopia, coffee has well and truly conquered the planet. Worldwide we drink around two billion cups a day, and for centuries it has kept us awake, driven national economies, and some say even instigated artistic movements and helped win wars. And yet, ask any barista or coffee professional working today and they will tell you that in terms of flavour, we are living in a golden age of coffee. Farming practices have improved, coffee roasters have never before been so knowledgeable, and from Cape Town to Tokyo a new breed of coffee shop has arrived, serving only the best coffee prepared with care. Join us as we go in search of unmissable coffee experiences in four corners of the world.

Austria

How to ask for a coffee in the local language?

Ein Kaffee, bitte

Signature coffee style?

Melange: the Viennese take on a cappuccino, served with milk and sometimes whipped cream

What to order with your coffee?

A decadent slice of kuchen/torte (cake)

Do: Wait to be seated in formal places; take your pick of the tables in casual coffee houses

The roof of Vienna’s Stephansdom cathedral is decorated with 230,000 tiles.

Austria’s obsession with coffee began as many good fairytales do: with some magic beans. Rewind to 1683 and the Battle of Vienna. As the Ottoman invaders beat a retreat from the Polish-Habsburg allies, they dumped sacks of beans at the city gates in their haste to flee. Bemused, the Viennese dismissed them as mere camel fodder, but Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, a military officer who had done the rounds in Turkey, knew they had struck gold. The coffee beans were roasted and the drink refined with milk and sugar. The Habsburgs and high society went mad for it. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The modern counter at Alt Wien Kaffee, not to be confused with the vintage Viennese coffee house Kaffee Alt Wien

From those tiny beans grew an entire culture: coffee houses began to pop up in Vienna and other Austrian cities, and in poured the poets, philosophers, musicians and artists. The Kaffeehaus became an extension of society – a place to talk, read, write, dream, play games and scoff fancy cakes. They were the apogee of gemütlichkeit, the feeling of nostalgic warmth and conviviality that belongs so utterly to Austria.

But as the country embraces the zeitgeist for single-origin and small-batch roasts, things are changing. While coffee is still served with a hefty slice of culture in coffee houses that range from grungy to grand and boho to rococo, the country has effectively come full circle, with a new breed of micro-roasters and cafés once again focusing on the magic of the beans.

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About Lonely Planet Traveller (UK)

In the June issue… discover the variety that can exist within one small country on a Great Escape to Slovenia; follow in Napoleon's footsteps on a drive from the French Riviera to the Alps; take one of Europe's most curious train rides through the forests of northern Sweden; try out yurts, vintage caravans and more at great glamping locations across Britain; go on a coffee-lover's tour of four countries that make a good cup; and much more