Searching for 'third-wave' coffee in Vienna is a lot of fun. One gets to walk through the old city, pass by and visit a lot of pastry shops and learn the underground metro rail system by heart. To visit all of the 'new coffee' shops would also teach one about the street car system, as well. The four or so 3rdW coffee shops and school previously mentioned have taken a cue from the coffee map published during the 2012 SCAA and there now is a map on a large card titled "Independent Coffee Vienna" that can be found in some of the 3rdW shops and the number has grown to thirteen shops.
A scan of the Independent Coffee Map included here:
There was not enough time or caffeine tolerance to visit even half of the new wave places; I visited 5 plus 1.
CaffeCoture was my hands down favorite and the only one I visited twice - once at each shop. At the time they were roasting an espresso blend of two Brazilian plantations (Fazenda Rodomunho and Finca Cruzeiro) and an espresso single origin from Honduras, Finca Palo Blanco. They also had a brew bar with a Yirgacheffe Wondo and a Rawandan Musasa. The Brazilian blend was nicely complex but I lost my tasting notes. Suffice it to say that I brought two pounds home with me. They claim that it reaches its flavor peak at 14 days and brews well for a month. On the next visit, the Honduran had a lot of plum character in the nose and a chocolate and raisin taste with a dry, mineral finish. They used a Strada, as I recall. The roaster,Georg, told me that he had worked as a blender/taster for Bacardi Rum, living in Puerto Rico, prior to this enterprise. He related to me interesting similarities involved in evaluating the aromas, tastes and pedigrees of both coffee and rum.
Kaffeemodul was the next visit; they had a LM paddle 3 group machine. They were a shop offering roasts from Denmark. They had a twin hopper grinder and offered a darker and a lighter roast. I tried the darker roast , a Brazilian, which had a cinnamon nose and a chocolate and blackberry taste.
People On Caffeine (POC) was my third stop. Whereas the CaffeeCoture and Kaffeemodul shops were light, sparse and airy - even the smaller 'Coture shop in the Ferstl Passage - POC was exactly like hanging out in someone's garage with all work surfaces holding a mix of espresso machines, grinders, clean and used cups (don't worry, they do not get mixed up) and laptop/register/business supplies. The four customer tables are kept clutter-free. POC earns points for the most sincere hangout; no one could accuse them of being branded or pretentious. POC had many roasts from quite a few roasters. The barista pulled me a SO Brazilian roasted in Amsterdam that started out quite lemony but not piercing, then settled into a nice chocolate bitterness. The barista also treated me to a sample of a vac pot he just infused for someone, using a Kenyan roast that had a complex high note of both citric and malic character that also became chocolate-y. These taste successions were a little brief to be my favorites, but their quality was good for what they were. POC has the strangest LM 3 group paddle that I have ever seen; in fact it was a 2 group machine on one table and a similar but single group machine on another table. Perhaps they were the result of whatever buying opportunities were available. It was described as hard to find and my GPS missed the smaller branch street where it sits and positioned me further on the main nearby thoroughfare, Alserstrasse, so that I walked right by it. Therefore, here are several pictures:
I had passed an interesting- looking coffee cafe named "Latte Art" and I asked at POC why they were not on the map and if they were only style (implied by the name) or had decent taste. The barista told me that a fellow named Habib just opened the cafe and that I would have to decide whether or not they belonged on the map, so I backtracked and paid them a visit. Habib roasts his own beans and had about 20 varieties of roast on hand. He was quite proud of the fact that they were entirely or partially blends of robusta from Vietnam(!). Since I am not a milk-coffee drinker, I took a chance on ordering a shot, which had a nutty aroma, lots of body with an initial chocolate taste with a delayed taste of bitterness. Not my favorite but I doubtless did not sample the roast or the barista appropriately, since he was apparently set up to create good-looking and -tasting milk-coffee drinks. After all, the melange is the go-to drink for this culture. As for his entry onto the map, that is for the Independent Coffee Vienna community to decide.
Another 15 minutes of walking brought me to Jonas Reindl. Whereas the previous cafes were sparse or plain, Jonas Reindl was a spacious and sleekly decorated establishment with a decent selection of pastries and beer to accompany its offering of coffees, and an Evolution machine. When I asked what they were roasting, they offered me five or six roasts, all SO. When I mentioned that there were only two grinders they showed me the transferable hopper on their E43. I asked them to select something that was approximate for a Snickers bar character and they suggested a Nicaraguan SO. It had a woody nose and an initial taste that was smoky but not burnt, changing to a savory taste with a green onion character, minus the bite. As the cup cooled, the savory character took on an olive taste, and it finished as a plum note. It was quite good and a welcome surprise from the trite Snickers bar taste that I had requested.
The next day I had the opportunity to detour to Sascha's coffee on Pilgrimgasse. I met Sascha and he was quite willing to converse a bit despite being busy. The shop is small but most customers are there for take out. Sascha has small roasters in another city custom roasting for him. He was pulling a blend of Sumatran and Burundian beans on his LM. The aroma was forward and complex, consisting of chocolate and both citric and malic acid notes. The taste was very pleasing, starting out chocolate and intensifying as a dry alkali (Dutched) cocoa taste and finishing with a raisin note. After Coture, this was my second favorite shop, but, as most will agree, the variables that determine the taste of one shot of espresso are too numerous to take into account.
The gemütlich life is alive and well in Vienna. In most Viennese cafes, the quality of the pastries may partially compensate for the boring anonymity of the kleine braune and melange. Most of the Independent Coffee Vienna cafes offer at least a plain croissant (my favorite accompaniment for a shot) and sometimes more. Their pastries looked good but I was too stuffed from reviewing the pastry shops (on another web site) to try each and every one. It is to be hoped that the present trend will continue in two ways. First, that the wealth of pastry that suffuses Vienna will find its way into the third-wave cafes and attract pastry-loving Viennese and visitors alike, and, more importantly, that all but the most traditional cafes and konditorei will begin to buy artisanal beans, hire baristas and offer a more decent accompaniment to their artisanal pastries. Until then the Independent Coffee Vienna movement provides welcome and, apparently, multiplying islands of "höchste Qualität" caffeine.
Talk about your favorite cafes, local barista events, or plan your own get-together.