Wiener Melange – Symbol of a Long Coffee Culture

Wiener Melange – Symbol of a Long Coffee Culture

Interesting facts and tips for preparing the cult drink

Viennese melange means little more in French than a Viennese “mixture”. But what is so wonderfully combined in the Wiener Melange is the scent of aromatic, tart coffee beans and the soft foam of white milk. Topped with cocoa or cinnamon powder on request – the classic from the Viennese coffee houses, which is known and appreciated worldwide today, is ready. So let’s look back at its history and look for the original recipe.

Austrian coffee variety

With 2.9 cups of coffee per day, i.e. more than 900 cups a year, Austrians are among the front runners in coffee drinking in Europe. But Austrian people use the coffee not only in large quantities, but also have their long coffeehouse story and they create a whole range of coffees. This is why no other country has so many different variations in traditional coffee preparation.

The over 40 coffee creations include drinks that sound strange, such as Einspänner, Franziskaner and Maria Theresa coffee. However, the most popular types of coffee ordered in the coffee house are still the Kleine Braune and the Wiener Melange. The latter in particular has started a worldwide triumphant advance beyond the Austrian coffee houses and has a long history. We would like to introduce these to you here.

The Viennese Melange and its history

The history of Wiener Melange is closely linked to that of the famous coffee houses in Vienna. According to a legend, these were created when the Turks rushed away from the Danube city in 1683, leaving behind a few sacks of coffee beans. In fact, things turned out differently and it took more than a hundred years to invent the Wiener Melange.

It was not until 1830 that the Austrians came up with the idea of adding fine milk foam to the aromatic coffee and thus creating a wonderful mixture, the melange. Since French was not only considered particularly chic at the Austrian court at the time, you could not call the coffee a coffee blend, but rather fell back on the much more sophisticated name “ Melange ”. The term melange is used to describe various coffee specialties with milk.

Wiener Melange: the right preparation

To conjure up a real Viennese melange, take an “ extended”, ie a longer espresso or mocha, as well as milk and milk foam. True to style, half of the coffee is poured into a large, semicircular cup. Then fill up with frothy, blown milk. The foam hood of the melange can be provided with chocolate sprinkles. If you like it spicier, you can also use vanilla or cinnamon to top the melange.

Since the coffee’s taste is reduced by adding milk, the drink tastes rather mild and is ideal for a relaxing afternoon enjoyment. Some lovers of the sweet taste also like to add sugar to the melange. Others, on the other hand, swear solely by the natural sweetness of honey and give the coffee creation a very special aroma.

If you want to add that certain something to the classic, you can try it with an imperial melange. Here the coffee is “mélanged” with egg yolk and cognac (optionally also brandy). Connoisseurs add honey to the whole thing and thus ensure a round and rich taste. Since the current food regulation no longer allows raw egg yolks in coffee houses, one looks in vain for this coffee specialty in Vienna today. You can still try this specialty at home. Provided you get fresh eggs in your area!

The cappuccino and the Viennese melange – what’s the difference?

At first glance, the Wiener Melange and the cappuccino look very similar. A Viennese coffee house guide even recommends cappuccino drinkers order a melange. The Viennese do not serve cappuccino in a traditional coffee house. However, the first cafes have already bowed to the constant pressure of tourist inquiries.

But even if the two coffee beverages hardly differ at first, there are subtle differences in the details. This is how the original cappuccino is prepared from a simple espresso and twice the amount of milk foam. This has to be creamy and semi-liquid and is poured into the espresso at an angle using a certain technique. The aim is to ensure that the brown crema of the espresso creates a characteristic marbling on the milk foam.

The basis for a Viennese melange, on the other hand, is a longer espresso or mocha, to which frothed milk is poured. Use half of the coffee and milk foam. Finally, put some milk foam on the whole thing so that no marbling can be seen.

The Wiener Melange therefore only has a small milk froth hood, while the cappuccino is served with significantly more milk froth. In addition, a milder coffee is typically used for the Wiener Melange.

The Franciscan: a variant of the melange?

Due to the large variety of coffee specialties in Austria, there is also a very similar coffee enjoyment here, which is, however, much more substantial. The so-called Franciscan is not – as the name might suggest – sparingly with low-fat milk – on the contrary, with a cap made of whipped cream.

So nothing for the calorie-conscious coffee drinker, but definitely worth a sin!

The melange in the world

It is thanks to the popularity of the melange that it has spread worldwide. However, not everyone understands the same thing. In Switzerland, for example, coffee is served with a top of whipped cream garnished with a coffee bean. The whipped cream is also served separately in a bowl so that you can decide for yourself how many calories you can have in your coffee today.

The Dutch, on the other hand, interpreted the Wiener Melange completely differently and use – similar to the Kaisermelange – sugared egg yolk for its preparation. Sometimes, however, a coffee drink is also served here that almost corresponds to the Austrian original, except that hot cocoa is used instead of milk .

Similarly, Nescafé, Mövenpick and Lufthansa Catering also serve the Wiener Melange with a cocoa mixture.

By the way: coffee blends called “melange” from the supermarket have nothing to do with the classic, tasty Viennese specialty and are not necessarily recommended.

Remember: You can always check our shop page for our recommended products that we tested ourselves. We’ve tested espresso makers, espresso machines both fully automatic and portafilters, coffee beans and coffee utensils.

Our summary:

The melange leaves some interpretations open – after all, it is nothing more than a “mixture”. While the Viennese prefer coffee and milk foam, the Dutch have fallen in love with the “Kaisermelange” and the Swiss found the name “Franziskaner” rather unsuitable for a coffee garnished with whipped cream and therefore called it Café mélange.

The original goes like this:

  • ½ cup of mocha
  • ½ cup of frothed milk
  • Milk foam hood, optionally also with chocolate sprinkles, cinnamon or vanilla