My Fave Cafe in Vienna: Balthasar

Balthasar Espresso
Balthasar Espresso

It seems that all good things come to those who wait and sometimes they kind of creep up on you. So, one fine sunny day in Vienna, after a fine lunch, I was rushing again and what did I notice, a La Marzocco Strada to my right in a shop – of course I stopped, walked in, saw a friendly guy behind the brew bar and state of the art espresso machine and said “wow! is this a new place…. you’ve got a La Marzocco Strada machine… erm… I’ll be back” And sure I was in 10 minutes and ever since then, several times, taking colleagues, the wife, the daughter, the son and more.

Balthasar Entry

It also helps that Balthasar, is about 15 minutes walk from where I live and about 10 minutes on the underground (in Vienna it’s called the u-bahn) from where I work, so very easy access.

So, what else is there to know about Balthasar apart from the flashy machine.

Well, it’s run by Otto Bayer, a very friendly guy, whose family have been in the catering business for over a century, who gets his coffee from a specialist coffee roaster in Germany, who sources coffee “directly” and often visits the farmers themselves.

side view

 

On one occasion coffee from the long mile coffee project in Burundi was on offer. In any case, all the gadgets are here, two Mazzer grinders, cold brew system,

Cold Brew - great for a hot day
Cold Brew – great for a hot day

 

V60 brew bar and semi-retired La Marzocco G3 (Otto trained on it, but as he spends all his time in his cafe, it might as well be in the cafe.

On offer also are cakes, brownies and some savouries, as well as tea and Otto’s other speciality, wine – he loves the relationship between wine and coffee and of course the tasting experience of both.

brownies

His customers usually order a coffee and then a glass of wine afterwards. Balthasar has been opened for a few months and is decked out with new age furniture like Kartel and palettes, topped with magazines and low hanging light bulbs.

hanging out

You can also buy coffee and gadgets like V60, the filters, aeropress and other bits. The good thing is that it’s opened from 7:30am to 7pm everyday except Sundays, so visiting on Saturday are great even Otto though must be exhausted but he really loves his job and his cafe.

The coffee menu is not extensive but to the point like the top end cafes in London – cappuccino, flat white, espresso and cafe latte

Americano

and a new way of brewing an Americano – brewed for 45 seconds on 5 bar of pressure.

Balthasar Flat White
Balthasar Flat White

So, what else, just go visit and you won’t be disappointed.

Balthasar

Praterstrasse 38

Vienna 1020

http://www.balthasar.at

 

CNN and Vienna Coffee

 

OK! so you may already know that I was featured in a recent article on CNNs website about 8 of the World’s coffee great drinking cities see link here http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/04/travel/best-coffee-cities/

I’ve got to add that I’m grateful for the coverage to Sarah Reid, the author of the article. However, I wrote a lot more about drinking coffee in Vienna including recommending a few other places. I’m glad that Caffe Couture and Essenti were on the list, BUT the one major omission was the Vienna School of Coffee – a must for serious coffee snobs in Vienna. I wrote about it in December 2012 but although it’s only opened on Saturdays to the public, its still a must for anyone visiting Vienna or living in Vienna.  

I promise a blog on Essenti very soon, as that’s the only place I haven’t blogged about yet.

@ The Vienna School of Coffee

VSC Latte

It seems natural that Vienna, one of the first places to launch Europe’s coffee culture, should have some sort of World renowned coffee school, BUT, that wasn’t so, until Joanna Wechselberger opened one up in the late noughties (the decade before 2010). If you have been reading my blog, since it’s inception in August 2007, then Jo (that’s what I call her) was behind the first serious espresso based coffee shop, Mocca Club (now closed after new ownership) in Vienna. I learnt a lot from her on my way to becoming some sort of coffee geek. In any case, Jo’s Vienna School of Coffee now has a lot of respect, as Jo is one of only 3 master baristas in the World whom the SCAE (Speciality Coffee Association of Europe) has authorised as barista trainer, international judge, brewmaster and certifier. Any barista reading this, would know of her, as during the World Barista Championships (WBC) in June 2012, her school, equipped with the latest Nuova Simonelli T3, was used by all competing baristi to practice – in fact she still has their timetables for all their practice runs up in her school.

VSC

Now, the good bit. Yes, the Vienna School of Coffee (VSC from now) is a training school, run by Jo, teaching everything from coffee tasting, different brew methods, latte art, to professional SCAE barista level courses and upon request, she will run courses for friends for a fee of course. This means that from Monday to Friday, the VSC is closed to the public, but on Saturdays from 10am until 3pm, you can pop in for a chat about coffee and Jo or her mum (trained by Jo, of course) will make you an espresso based coffee too, at no cost, but you will be embarrased not to pay at least the normal price for espresso in Vienna €2 or €2.70 for milk based espresso, i.e cappuccino.

VSC Ristretto

Now, isn’t that cute, a ristretto ?

Jo is also a trained coffee roaster, sourcing direct trade coffee for different regions and you can also pick up some freshly roasted coffee too. She has single estate coffees as well as espresso blends on sale, as well as brewing equipment, such as Hario V60s, Aeropress, Syphons and other bits for sale. Also on sale is Jo’s book on coffee in German, but happy to say, translated into English as the The Ultimate Coffee Book – for beginners and professionals – of course, I have one, bought by my wife.

From my past visits, Jo seems to be getting a bit of a following as back in September when I visited, I had jo all to myself to tal coffee, but now, I’m like in the queue, But that’s fine, the more the word spreads the better. I’m also planning on arranging a coffee tasting session with some coffee enthusiasts early in the new year of 2013, so feel free to get in touch with moi.

Until then, if you are in Vienna over the weekend, pop by to

DSC_1562

The Vienna School of Coffee

22 Hahngasse

9th District, Vienna

http://en.viennaschoolofcoffee.at/

 

Argh! the Coffee Pirates – A New Coffeeshop in Vienna

It seems Vienna might be following, albeit slowly, the trend highlighted by London, whereby after the hosting of the World Barista Championships (WBC) , an explosion of new age/third wave coffee shops evolve. So, here we are at Coffee Pirates, located at 17 Spitalgasse in the 9th district of Vienna, where University Students aplenty gather together with trendy middle class apartments. There is no shortage of ambition here, with proprietors going for gusto with a Kees van der Westen Spirit Duette espresso machine, third wave gadgets like aeropress and Hario V60s and soon to be installed, a Diedrich IR-2 coffee roasting machine, all under one roof, Wow! Now that’s what I call home.

Newly opened, so somewhat undiscovered yet, Coffee Pirates are open during the week and on Saturdays too (great for me, as they are located nowhere near where I work). They also serve sandwiches, cakes, muffins and snacks, similar to your NY Style/London café.

The interior contrast very widely with the exterior, with beige wood floors and walls and other homely touches to make you feel relaxed, not to mention the very friendly owners

 

– here’s Werner smiling as he makes my cappuccino on his very flash machine.

They’ve also got a chalk board wall by the toilets and of course I had to write something

so, pop by & escape into a coffee hub that stands out in Vienna.