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Café Maria Theresia Recipe

The Café Maria Theresia is a boozy coffee cocktail that’s popular in classic Vienna coffee houses. Follow our easy Cafe Maria Theresia recipe and craft the decadent cocktail in your home.

Whipped Cream and Sprinkles on Cafe Maria Theresia with Purple Background

There’s something magical about boozy beverages that double as dessert – especially when they provide a caffeine kick. Yes, we like to stay awake long enough to enjoy our sugar highs.

The Cafe Maria Theresia is a unicorn drink that completes the tricky trifecta of being boozy, caffeinated and sweet all at the same time. And, if you decorate your Cafe Maria Theresia with multi-colored sprinkles, the drink will bring a unicorn rainbow to the party.

What Is a Café Maria Theresia?

Cafe Maria Theresia with Purple Background from Above
While we can’t guarantee that drinking a Café Maria Theresia will make you happy, drinking this one turned our frowns upside down.

The Café Maria Theresia is a bit of a hybrid. The Vienna kaffeehaus staple is both a coffee drink and a dessert drink. No hidden gem, it’s incredibly easy to find at classic Vienna cafes.

However, not everybody lives in Vienna or has plans to travel to Austria’s capital city any time soon. That’s why we came up with a Café Maria Theresia recipe that’s easy to make at home no matter where you live.

Cafe Maria Theresia and Sprinkles with Teal Background
There’s no such thing as too many sprinkles.

Our Café Maria Theresia recipe includes coffee, orange liqueur, sugar and lots of whipped cream. The best Vienna coffee houses finish the coffee cocktail with colored sprinkles and we do too.

Warning
You’ll may crave Austrian desserts like kaiserschmarrn after a few sips of this colorful cocktail.

History of the Café Maria Theresia

Cafe Maria Theresia at Cafe Sperl in Vienna
The Café Maria Theresia we drank at Café Sperl may or may not have a regal past.

Would you like to hear a story about how Empress Maria Thresea, the Café Maria Theresia’s namesake, invented Austria’s iconic coffee cocktail? That story would surely be filled with both intrigue and whipped cream.

Sadly, that story doesn’t exist.

Inside Cafe Sperl in Vienna
Drinking a Café Maria Theresia at Café Sperl was a highlight of our trip to Vienna.

We don’t know why the Café Maria Theresia was named after the Hapsburg ruler or if she ever satisfied her sweet tooth by imbibing the decadent dessert drink.

What we do know is that the regally named coffee cocktail is a staple at Vienna kaffeehauses like Café Ritter and Café Sperl more than two centuries years after Maria Theresa’s 40-year reign ended.

We also know that drinking a Café Maria Theresia is a bucket list item for both cocktail connoisseurs and coffee drinkers who travel to the Austrian capital. Without doubt, the Café Maria Theresia is a drinkable Vienna food favorite.

Café Maria Theresia Ingredients

Cafe Maria Theresia with Sprinkles and Cointreau
The Café Maria Theresia’s primary ingredients include coffee, orange liqueur, whipped cream, sugar and sprinkles. Pictured here is a crafted Café Maria Theresia next to a bowl of sprinkles and a bottle of Cointreau, our go-to orange liqueur.

Our Café Maria Theresia recipe has the following ingredients:

  • Boiling Water
  • Brewed Coffee
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Orange Liqueur
  • Sprinkles
  • Whipped Cream

Despite the coffee cocktail’s international origin, you should be able to easily find all of these ingredients at your local market and liquor store. And, if you’re lucky, you may already have them in your pantry and liquor cabinet.

Brewed Coffee

White SMEG Coffee Maker
The quality of your brewed coffee directly impacts the quality of a Café Maria Theresia.

Since coffee is primary Café Maria Theresia ingredient, using quality coffee in our Café Maria Theresia recipe is a must.

We brew coffee for our Café Maria Theresia recipe using the same single-origin coffee beans that we use to brew our morning joe. Depending on the day, those beans may be from Brazil, Colombia or Ethiopia.

While people typically brew these type of beans with a Haribo V60 or Chemex, we use a simple yet stylish Italian auto drip coffee machine machine produced by Smeg.

You can purchase a SMEG automatic coffee maker from Amazon if you like its style too.

Cointreau

Cointreau Bottle
Cointreau is our orange liqueur of choice.

Orange liqueur is an integral ingredient that provides the Café Maria Theresia’s its zesty orange flavor. You can use Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Orange Curaçao or triple sec. We use Cointreau in our recipe.

Cointreau is our go-to orange liqueur for cocktail recipes that call for orange liqueur or triple sec as well as for some that don’t. We like Cointreau’s balanced flavor. Made in France, it has a 40% ABV.

Buy a bottle of Cointreau from Drizly or Total Wine if you live in the US.

How to Craft a Café Maria Theresia

Cafe Maria Theresia Mise en Place
Crafting a Café Maria Theresia is easier than you might think. We crafted this boozy beverage is just five minutes.

You’ll want to assemble the ingredients and tools before you craft a Café Maria Theresia. Good news! You won’t need any fancy tools or equipment to craft this drink. We use the following basic bar tools in our Café Maria Theresia recipe:

You can improvise if you’re missing either of these basic bar tools. For example, you can use a small angled measuring cup instead of a jigger or a regular spoon instead of a bar spoon.

Discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.

The first step is to fill a glass mug with boiling water and then empty it after a minute or two. This step heats the mug and ensures that the coffee cocktail stays warm.

We like to boil water with an electric kettle since it’s so fast and efficient to use. You can purchase an electric kettlefrom Amazon if you don’t already have one in your kitchen.

Heating Cafe Maria Theresia Mug
Warming the glass mug with boiling water is a pro move that enhances the Café Maria Theresia drinking experience.

Measure the orange liqueur and pour it into the warmed glass mug. We use a Japanese jigger to measure liquor for this and other recipes to avoid spillage and ensure accuracy.

Purchase a Japanese Jigger from Amazon if you don’t have a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.

Add sugar and stir with a bar spoon until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Stirring Cafe Maria Theresia
Sugar is one of the ingredients that transforms the Café Maria Theresia into a dessert cocktail.

Pour coffee into the mug and gently stir.

Pouring Coffee into Cafe Maria Theresia
We use top quality coffee when we craft a Café Maria Theresia. You should do the same.

Top with as much whipped cream as you desire.

Topping Cafe Maria Theresia with Whipped Cream
Whipped cream makes everybody happy.

You can use canned whipped cream like Reddi-Wip unless you’re an over-achiever who wants to make whipped cream from scratch. You can also use fresh whipping cream an iSi gun.

Buy an iSi Gun from Amazon if that’s the way you roll.

Sprinkling Sprinkles on a Cafe Maria Theresia
Colorful sprinkles provide the finishing touch to the Café Maria Theresia.

Garnish with a smattering of sprinkles unless you’d rather garnish your cocktail with chocolate shavings or slivered orange zest. We say go for the sprinkles.

Fun Fact
We both grew up using the word jimmies instead of sprinkles. As we later learned, they’re the same thing. Either way, you can buy sprinkles from Amazon if you need a jar of the colorful candy topping.

Cafe Maria Theresia Variations

Cafe Maria Theresia with Yellow Background Up Close
Will the Café Maria Theresia be your new favorite coffee cocktail?

If your new-found love for the Café Maria Theresia inspires you to craft more coffee cocktails, we suggest starting with following classic concoctions:

Café Maria Theresia FAQs

Where was the Café Maria Theresia invented?

The Café Maria Theresia’s history is a mystery.

What are the ingredients in a Café Maria Theresia?

Boiling Water, Brewed Coffee, Orange Liqueur, Granulated Sugar, Sprinkles and Whipped Cream

What’s the best orange liqueur to use in a Café Maria Theresia?

We like to use Cointreau but other options include Grand Marnier, Orange Curaçao and triple sec.

What type of glass is best for the Café Maria Theresia?

We like to use a glass coffee mug but a glass parfait glass would work well too.

Café Maria Theresia Recipe

Cafe Maria Theresia and Sprinkles with Teal Background

Café Maria Theresia

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The Café Maria Theresia is a Vienna coffee house classic. Follow our easy recipe and craft the decadent coffee cocktail at home.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce orange liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces brewed coffee
  • whipped cream
  • sprinkles

Instructions

    1. Warm a glass mug by filling it with boiling water. Discard the water after a minute or two.
    2. Pour orange liqueur and sugar into the warmed glass and stir until the sugar dissolves.
    3. Pour the brewed coffee into the glass and gently stir.
    4. Top with whipped cream.
    5. Garnish with sprinkles.

Notes

  • You can garnish with chocolate shavings or grated orange peel instead of sprinkles.

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About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Original Publication Date: December 13, 2022

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