Stumbling Upon the Perfect Coffee Shop
I’m back from vacation, but still thinking about the beautiful cities and the amazing food. Since I’m in a nostalgic mood, I’m writing about one of my favorite coffee shops I visited: Vollpension. We came across this coffee shop right before leaving Vienna. My friend discovered it and we decided we had to drop in before we left. Come to find out, it was just around the corner from where we were staying so there was no excuse not to visit.
Vollpension is a cozy little coffee shop/cafè that welcomes young and old in a cozy setting that mimics Grandma’s living room. The decor is unpretentious and inviting. Exposed brick walls dotted with portraits and pictures; sofas and arm chairs wrapped in bold tones and floral patterns; wooden tables and chairs; lace doilies and small whimsical vases with simple flowers all exude a 1940’s retro vibe that does indeed make you think you’re in Grandma’s living room. Peppy music from the 1940’s and 50’s plays in the background. The whole ambiance envelops you in a warm embrace.
A Coffee Shop with a Conscience
Vollpension not only has a unique atmosphere, it also has a heart and social consciousness. This caring social enterprise is on a mission to bridge the gap between generations. Recognizing the lack of interaction between the older and younger generations, and that the limited incomes of some of the older members of society has tended to isolate this valuable sector, Vollpension has created employment opportunities for seniors in addition to the coffee shop setting to promote intergenerational socialization for both generations.
The employee roster is diverse and inclusive. It incorporates older “grannies” that bake cakes for the coffee shop and catering business. Baristas and members of the kitchen team include the younger and older generations alike. Both young and old are welcomed as patrons and customers. Vollpension recognizes the value of each individual and aims to foster intergenerational dialogue and relationships between all ages. I love this concept!
Baristas with Personality
The spunky and confident barista looked at me and matter factly stated, “cappuccino.” as I stepped to the counter to place my order. Not quite prepared to have someone order for me, I first inquired about the other caffeinated beverages. In Vienna, most cafès do not serve a simple cup of coffee and I was curious as to whether I would be able to find a plain cup of coffee here. After listening to descriptions of their espresso beverages (no cup of coffee), I ultimately ended up ordering the cappuccino, to which our good-natured barista responded, “See, I knew it – cappuccino!” I had to laugh and agree.
A Perfect Coffee Shop with Delicious Local Fare
The breakfast menu at Vollpension was creative as well as entertaining to read. It really was hard to choose from the fun and descriptive breakfast options. Ultimately, the “Spicy Grandpa” won out. I wanted something that incorporated local Austrian breakfast fare. When in Rome, right? I can honestly say, the Spicy Grandpa was unlike any other breakfast or brunch I’ve ever eaten.
Be forewarned – the Spicy Grandpa is not for the faint of heart. Go armed with a hearty appetite. My friend and I shared this plate. Even with the two of us, it was a bit of a challenge to finish the entire serving.
The Spicy Grandpa offered a hefty serving of thinly sliced ham. Ham is not my meat of choice, not sure why, but it’s always been a last option for me. However, I really enjoyed this ham. There was something unique and authentic about it. I think the difference was this ham possessed enough of its own flavor and freshness it did not have to rely on saltiness alone to carry it through and make it palatable.
The salami was my favorite. This was not just any salami; it was salami from Vienna’s finest butcher, “Thum.” Strong and spicy, just the way I like salami. To round out the protein selection, the Spicy Grandpa included a soft-boiled egg. This ended up being a little too soft for my liking, but nonetheless made for a breakfast plate that incorporated it all.
There were two kinds of bread, a hearty slice of soft brown bread and an Austrian Semmerl, which is similar to a kaiser roll. I really enjoyed the brown bread – it was rustic and chewy with a hit of dairy sourness. The Semmerl had a crunchy crust with a softer, mellow crumb. Traditional butter and a Red Pepper Tomato Butter accompanied the bread. The Red Pepper Tomato Butter tasted similar to tomato soup; a hint of sweetness, yet rich and creamy.
Cheese and Accompaniments
Cottage cheese, slices of Austrian cheese, a dill pickle, fresh horseradish, tomatoes and cucumbers complimented the meats and bread. The dill pickle was crisp and tart and tasted as if it came straight from Grandma’s own dill pickle jar. The cottage cheese was thick and pearly and infused with the flavor of fresh herbs. I’ve never had cottage cheese like this. No blandness, just a slight hint of dill and chives. It was almost like a flavored cream cheese, with a lower fat content and more chew.
I think the horseradish was one of my favorite condiments – scrumptious as well as beautiful. The horseradish was grated into long, slender strands. A pure joy to eat. I could literally eat this by itself! It wasn’t too strong, yet gave just the right kick. The tomatoes and cucumbers were light and refreshing; vegetable choices that paired quite well with the other stars of the plate.
I left a little part of me in Vienna. One of the things I loved about this city was the architecture, the arts, and the cafè culture that included unique coffee shops like Vollpension. I hope to return again one day and revisit this coffee shop in the city of dreams.