International Coffee

Did Café Viennois Actually Come from Austria?

Try the delectable combo of espresso and whipped cream at this local French coffee shop.

By Paul Galvani March 3, 2021 Published in the December 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Coffeehouses are a symbol of Viennese culture. Denizens of the famed Austrian city claim that more than three dozen drinks have been invented in its coffeehouses since the first one opened in the 1680s. Maybe that’s why everyone assumes the Café Viennois (also known as a Café Vienna, a Wiener Melange, a Franziskaner or an espresso con panna, depending on where you order it—the name tends to change with the country) hails from Vienna.

The origins of this delectable combo of espresso and whipped cream are a bit murky, however, as Carla Navarro, the manager of Bouchée Patisserie at the Post Oak Hotel, is happy to acknowledge. It might indeed have come from Vienna—the drink does seem like something a kaffeehaus might have come up with—but it could also be of German, Italian, or Turkish origin, since it’s usually served in a Turkish-style demitasse cup and is known by so many names. Honestly, nobody is entirely sure.   

Thus, it makes a certain idiosyncratic sense that you have to go to a French coffee shop to order one here. Enter the sumptuously decorated Bouchée, a tiny piece of Paris in Houston, and one of only two places in town where you can get your hands on a Café Viennois. The Bouchée take includes two shots of espresso topped with hand-whipped cream, making it more like a liquid dessert than a caffeinated beverage.

“The whipped cream adds a little sweetness to the coffee, elevates the flavor, and helps to balance the hot and the cold,” Navarro explains. In short, the concoction is delicious—no matter what you call it.

Bouchée Patisserie

Uptown | 1600 W Loop S,

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