The Organic Traveller
Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Dresden: Organic coffeehouses

If you are familiar with Johann Sebastian Bach's Coffee Cantata from around 1735 you've heard about the Saxonian citoyens' love for coffee and a good piece of cake (if heading for a local speciality, try the Eierschecke cheese-cake). With a pinch of irony people will talk about the famous Saxonian "Bliemschenkaffee" ("flower coffee") referring to the thin coffee or caffeine-free coffee substitute during World War II or in the households of the poor. The term refers to the fact that you could see the flowery ornaments on the ground of the (well, not in all cases) Dresden china coffee cup.

The Saxonian's love for coffee hasn't faded since, they still proudly refer to themselves as "Kaffeesachsen" (coffee Saxonians), and most organic supermarkets will serve you a latte or Italian style coffee, both to have on the spot, and to go (in this case don't forget your refillable cup). There are however more pleasant places for a chat with friends, some reading or working time with a delicious cup of coffee.

With friendly service and a huge display of gorgeous cakes and pastries Die Kuchenglocke in Wilheminian Neustadt neighbourhood is reviving the tradition of Viennese style coffeehouses. Facing the beautiful, comparatively quiet square around Martin Luther church it is an extremely pleasant place to spend hours. The cakes are made by Dresden's furthermost organic bakery Heller, a true German bakery which was one of the first organic ice-cream makers in Germany. The young Heller generation running this beautiful cafe cum confectioner's shop proudly exclaim on the shop window's front that they are organic. Even if you have little time step by and have an ice-cream to go (1.50 EUR per scoop) or shop for sweets to take away.

The Hellers also fill the gap that nearby Cafe Continental at the crossroad Görlitzer Straße/Louisenstraße left when they stopped serving organic breakfast about two years ago: At the Kuchenglocke you can have breakfast all day long, too, and all organic. To have breakfast on late weekend mornings it's however advisable to order a table in advance as the place usually is quite crowded at that time. They also serve lunch. If you travel with kids head for the room hidden behind the bakery counter -- you'll find toys and books and a pleasant sofa there.

Not far away, on Bautzner Straße, you will find Phoenix Kaffeerösterei, a small-scale coffee roaster cum coffee bar furnished in coffee-coloured wood -- ideal for the recreational sip of Italian style coffee. Their coffee is fairly traded, yet not organically certified, although they had organic coffee when they started up in 2006. The milk for a latte or New Zealand style Flat White however is organic. Mind you that their opening hours are quite restricted, usually to Friday and Saturday, but they often keep closed on Saturdays, too.

Oswaldz

A ten minutes walk west, just before you reach Albert-Platz you can taste the Phoenix coffee all week long at the Oswaldz, a crowded coffee house cum gallery run by an ambitious young team. Before you sit down fetch a service number and put your order at the bar where you can choose from an impressive list of coffee drinks, among others a galao (coffee and milk frozzed together) or a gibraltar (double espresso macchiato). The milk they use is locally sourced and organic. You can also have a sandwich or cake partially made from organic ingredients -- eggs and cottage cheese are organic, flour and fruit are not, and since the friendly staff happily answered my questions I'm sure they will equally friendly answer yours. During the warm season they open a pleasant backyard for their guests.

If you head towards the shores of the river Elbe along Hauptstraße boulevard the Dreikönigskirche house of the church on the right hand side offers a quiet retreat from busy city life. On weekdays you can have a coffee, tea (both organic) and cake in the fair-trade Cafe Dreikönig within. There's also a small range of usually organic fair-trade foodstuffs for sale. Note that they are closed Saturday through Monday.

Facing Kreuzkirche on Altmarkt with its white-washed interior one of the few places where the wounds of the Anglo-American bombing by the end of World War II still are visible you will find one of Dresden's first organically certified eating places, cafe cum restaurant Aha. Some years ago they quite controversely decided not to prolong their certification in support of uncertified local farmers following organic or near-organic principles. More than 75 percent of the ingredients they use are still organically certified but they stopped (probably enforced by law) to make this transparent, so you have to enquire on specific ingredients if you care.

The cafe itself is equally popular among students, families and NGO groups. Its walls frequently serve as a gallery for local artists, and the daily menu often reflects and extends the exhibitions. The list of coffee drinks is long, ranging from oriental and Indian inspired spiced coffee to the ubiquitous espresso. If you prefer a cold drink it's alleviating to know that sodas are served with paper instead of plastic drinking straws. The cakes are delivered by the Heller family, but you can also enjoy hearty home-made meals throughout the day (til late), or simply help yourself at the salad bar located under the stairs. Breakfast is being served from 9 am. In the basement there's a well assorted fair-trade shop which cannot follow the restaurant's liberal opening hours and is closed in the evenings and on Sundays.

If you have to spent time in the vicinity of Dresden's central train station, Hauptbahnhof, pay a visit to another fair-trade shop, the Contigo at the Southern end of Prager Straße. Inside the shop there's an organic coffee bar, perfectly suited for the quick espresso in between, or while you're shopping for gifts, fairly traded artisanal work like bags and jewellery, tea, chocolates or coffee. They do not serve food, so you shouldn't come hungry. If you prefer an unconventional coffee drink opt a coffee based lemonade dubbed "Selosoda".

A visit to the finest bridge in town, the Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") steel construction can easily be combined with a visit to the arguably finest Viennese-style coffee house in town, the Cafe Toscana. Observing the bridge and the river you can sit in the winter garden having an organic coffee drink or tea. Your organic latte will be poured together at your table. While a selection of soft drinks and wines, the milk and breakfast eggs are all organic none of the gorgeously looking cakes and confectionery to be ordered from the sales desk are, at least not fully (enquire about what's tempting you). The history of the coffee house named after a Saxon princess customer dates back to the end of the 19th century. Since its re-privatisation after Germany's re-unification it has been run by the Eisold family, a local baker's family now in its third generation.

Closed

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2018-06-20 11:00:01 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Dresden: Organic pubs and restaurants

Forget about sushi, pizza, pasta, burgers, curries and other globalized commonplaces -- in Dresden it's much easier to find hearty home-cooked dishes made from locally sourced ingredients rooted in local and regional food traditions. This does not necessarily mean German -- mind you that the borders with Czechia and Poland are close, so many menus reflect influences rather from Eastern than Western or Southern European cuisines. Many dishes include meat, yes, but all the places I am covering here have a decent selection of tasty vegetarian options readily available.

The most sophisticated ones in town may be had at Lingner restaurant on the premises of the neoclassical German Hygiene Museum ("Deutsches Hygienemuseum") marking the Western end of the 1x2 kilometres spanning inner-city park areal of Großer Garten ("Great Garden"). While you can step by for an Italian-style coffee drink (made with organic milk) and organic cake or a snack after a visit to the medical museum this is ways from the usual low quality self-service refectory to be found in many museums. They serve simple but decent lunch, all meat and meat products come from a local organic butcher's, the bread (though not the ice-cream which isn't organic) from an organic bakery in town, and many veges are also locally sourced and organic. Dinner starting at 5:30 pm is more sophisticated, and often thematically extending a current exhibition at the museum. While the outdoor terrace is popular during the warm season, dinner time during the winter season featuring a stylishly presented all-you-can-it buffet is perfect if you prefer it less crowded. When it comes to drinks both tea, milk, juices and some soft drinks as well as all spirits printed in dark-green font on the menu are organic. There's however no organic wine on offer (although a good selection of local ones). Due to the somewhat remote location call in advance if you plan to arrive after 9 pm.

About ten minutes brisk walking from Hygiene-Museum will lead you to Cafe Aha (just across Kreuzkirche) which is covered here. Even longer west, facing the modern building of the University of Music in Schützengasse you may be surprised to find a small island of baroque buildings with a wild garden, housing the city's environmental center, and a great disappointment: The cosy rustic wholefood restaurant on ground flour dubbed Brennnessel ("stinging nettle") once used organic ingredients and still can be found listed as an organic restaurant, but alas! -- no more.

For rustic food and surroundings head for one of the oldest independent pubs in town, the Planwirtschaft ("planned economy") in the Neustadt neighbourhood, popular since its beginnings as an illegal pub in the late GDR. On mezzanine level they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as coffee and cake while the basement houses a pub which opens in the evening. When it comes to their supplies they focus on buying from local farms and enterprises as the (unfortunately not organic) independent butcher's directly across the street or a tea shop next door from which they also source the organic teas on offer. The goat cheese is always organic, and they often have an organic meat dish (which is marked as "bio" on the menu). Have it together with a tasty organic beer, and ask about other organic ingredients.

If you take the urban train number 2 (e.g.) from the Neustadt train station, either on the way to the airport or to a stroll in the woods of Dresdner Heide, get off Bahnhof Klotzsche (one stop before the airport) and have breakfast, lunch, tea or a snack in its 110 years old railway station. Since the folks of Vorwerk Podemus took over and restored the historical building in 2015 it has been home to a bicycle shop, an artist's studio, an organic supermarket, and the now fully organic station restaurant dubbed Bio-Bahnhofswirtschaft with its pleasant beergarden. On Friday evenings from 5 pm the place also serves dinner or, May through September, a barbecue. Make sure to arrive well before 9pm as the kitchen keeps closing at this time. Travellers and ramblers may be glad to hear that they can fetch an organic breakfast or packed lunch on the go, though unfortunately not on Sundays as the restaurant is closed that day.

Closed

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2018-04-18 22:30:01 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, pub] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Friday, 06 April 2018

Dresden: Organic supermarkets and groceries

Organic wholesale in the capital of Saxony (which is governed by a red-red-green coalition) used to be dominated by the local economy, but since the oldest organic supermarket in town, Biosphäre, became part of the nation-wide Denn's chain in 2018, the picture has been resembling the one in other German metropolises: The market is devided between two local actors, a regional one and two of the nation-wide operating grocery chains, with a hand-full of smaller corner shops filling niches.

The largest density of organic supermarkets can naturally be found in the vibrant Wilhelminian style quarter of Neustadt north of the river Elbe with its -- gentrification aside -- still predominantly left-wing population of artists, students, activists, tourists, hipsters and bourgeois green-party voters.

Neustadt

It hasn't been always this way, but walking the old streets of Innere Neustadt with open eyes will present you with an abundance of shops and eateries boosting of vegetarian and vegan products. Many of them use organic produce, but won't advertise it -- partially because they blend with conventional products, and use of organic ingredients will vary, partially in fear of being prejudged as expensive. Fortunately it is nowadays easier to find an organic supermarket in this neighbourhood than a conventional one, so if you're tired of asking just walk to the next crossroad, and there you are.

The former Biosphäre markets are located here: the older one on Königsbrücker Landstraße opposite Schauburg theatre, and an even larger one in Alaunstraße a few metres from Albertplatz which replaced a conventional supermarket. Both have a self-service area where you can have coffee, cakes, pastry, sandwiches at any time of the day, and soups for lunch. Students are entitled a 10 percent discount on Wednesdays.

Berlin-based organic supermarket chain Bio Company has a branch a little south along the tramway tracks on Königsbrücker Landstraße. Just like the Denn's branches it closes at liberal 9 pm.

If you despair in face of the piles of plastics and paper wrappings you've been collecting while doing your regular shopping, re-use your glasses, containers and bags and refill them at Lose, a cosy zero-waste corner store in Böhmische Straße. You will be charged by weight. They do not limit themselves to selling dry food but offer veges and have a cheese counter as well. Since not everything is organic be careful to check the labels on the suspenders for the bio keyword or ask. The coffee corner is a nice place to recreate while your kids are busy in the playing corner. Mind you: like other zero waste shops they do not illuminate their window front, so be brave to try the door handle -- the place looks quite dark even during opening hours.

Altstadt

With the train stations as landmarks you can't miss your way to the next organic supermarket in the heart of the city: The Vorwerk Podemus grocery beneath track 3 in the eastern aisle of the central train station, Hauptbahnhof, is the only Sunday-open organic supermarket in town, with early and late opening hours. They will also sell you a coffee drink and sandwich to eat on the spot or to take away.

Bahnhof Mitte train station is your second chance: Directly opposite of the greenish-blue tower of the local newspaper's headquarter Pressehaus you'll find VG Biomarkt, an organic cooperative on the premises of the former newspaper printing plant. For members prices are lower, but the market is open to everyone. On weekdays they offer delicious lunch, and there's a cafe cum bakery shop featuring young local artists which (except on Mondays) opens half an hour before the supermarket itself, and closes at 7 pm on weekdays. Watch out on Mondays: The shop including its bistrot is open from 1 pm this day. Opening hours on Saturdays before Christmas are extended to 4 pm.

The Denn's Biomarkt chain not only took over the two former Biosphäre markets in the Neustadt but also opened a new supermarket within the Altmarktgalerie shopping mall.

Striesen, Blasewitz, Loschwitz, Johannstadt

VG Biomarkt has also branches in the neighbourhoods of Neustadt (Hechtviertel), Striesen, and Loschwitz (next to the downhill station of the cable-run suspension railway, Schwebebahn), however the one in Hechtviertel including its bistrot is members only.

A few meters from Blaues Wunder bridge south of the river Elbe, local butcher's chain Vorwerk Podemus has one of its pleasant wholesale supermarkets. First address for shortly travelled organic meat of animals which had a decent life. They also have branches in the neighbourhoods of Gruna, Neustadt, Alttolkewitz as well as a farmshop.

Another option in the neighbourhood of Blasewitz is the second Bio Company branch in town. Just like in the Neustadt branch the bakery disk caters for the early bird from 7:30 am.

The only branch of a nation-wide operating organic grocery chain so far is Alnatura on tram hub Straßburger Platz which many locals still refer to by its old name from GDR times, "Fucikplatz".

Bühlau, Weißer Hirsch

To find fully organic groceries on top of the hillside North of the Blaues Wunder bridge, in the elegant residential area of Weißer Hirsch and adjacent Bühlau interestingly proves to be more difficult. What I found instead was the shop of a small-scale vegan manufacturer, Vegannett (a pun made of the words "vegan" and "nice", while the second part of the name also refers to the name of the owner-founder, Annett). On the premises of a former partially organic butcher's shop she prepares vegetable spreads which you can buy in many of the aforementioned supermarkets. But if you happen to be there on a Wednesday afternoon, pay a visit, taste and shop. In addition to the spreads you can also buy local honey.

Klotzsche

If you fancy a stroll in the woods of Dresdner Heide or are on the way from or to the airport make sure to have sufficient time to visit the beautifully restored historical train station Klotzsche with its Vorwerk Podemus supermarket and the organic station restaurant, both catering for the early bird.

Closed down

The following (partially) organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:

2018-04-06 16:00:02 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, supermarkets, grocery, lunch, snacks, coffee, zero_waste, vegan, trainstation] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Dresden: Sustainable shopping

Dresden's Wilhelminian neighbourhood of Neustadt is dominated by independent shops and venues, many of them run by female entrepreneurs as recently documented by an art project of local photographer Christine Starke. So it comes as little surprise that it is here where you have the best chance to discover a lot of gems, driven in accordance with the personal principles of the shop keeper which often include social and environmental aspects. Keep your eyes open, and you will discover a lot more than I have to suggest here.

Herbalists and beauty

If you're on the outlook for herbs, remedies, bodycare and food items based on ingredients described by medieval healer nun Hildegard of Bingen pay a visit to the Marone herbalist shop on Bautzner Landstraße directly located at the east-bound tram stop Pulsnitzer Straße. Not all of the products on sale (which among others include chestnut products and a small selection of biodynamic wine) in this small specialist shop are certified organic though.

When entering the quieter parts of the neighbourhood and head for Martin Luther church stop by a tiny herbalist shop dubbed Un-kraut ("weeds") directly opposite the organic cafe Kuchenglocke. Even when open the shop easily goes unnoticed, and its interior does not show all the herbal treasures hidden in the backoffice. Ask for any herb or spice, and the knowledgeable shop keeper will truly find it for you, in organic quality if possible. She will also happily answer all the questions you might have concerning the use of herbs. On display are an assortment of organic spices and tisanes, essential oils as well as some gift items. Although the regular opening hours are restricted to weekdays you might find the place open on Saturdays, occasionally.

Surrounding the church natural and organic bodycare products can be found at Touch of Nature beauty parlour cum shop in Böhmische Straße east of Görlitzer Straße. Note that also this shop is closed on weekends.

Bicycles

Just opposite there's a second hand bicycle shop cum workshop, Elbcycles, where you can buy a used bike if you're staying longer, or get your own one fixed.

Jewellery

Heading further west cross Görlitzer Straße and follow Böhmische Straße until it ends at Alaunstraße. A luminous blue wall indicates the location of the Geldschneider & Co. steam-punk workshop. Among others you will find beautiful jewellery made from recycled parts of abandoned analog wrist watches. The place has somewhat erratic opening hours, so step by when nearby (if you need to plan ahead: Saturdays seem a safe bet). If closed during regular German shop opening hours you may call the phone number given on the entrance door.

Fair trade

As in many other German cities the first address for colourful gifts as well as organic sweets, spices and condiments are fair-trade shops founded as grassroots activities by Christian parish members in accordance with the conciliar process of mutual commitment (covenant) to justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC). As the host for pioneering regional ecumenical plenums in 1989 and 1990 the city of Dresden has been playing an important role in this process. The spirit of this movement lives on in local fair trade initiatives like Quilombo which for almost 25 years had run a fair-trade shop in the entrance area of Dreikönigskirche in Hauptstraße which played host to the first democratically elected local parliament in Saxony after East Germany's peaceful implosion in 1989. Today the initiative still has a shop in the neighbourhood of Löbtau while their former place in the "Haus der Kirche" ("house of the church") has been converted into fair-trade Cafe Dreikönig.

Sharing their roots with the Quilombo NGO the team of Cafe Aha opposite Kreuzkirche runs a fair-trade shop in the heart of the city. It is located in the basement of the cafe and offers an impressive selection of fairly-traded gifts, body care and dry goods. This initiative also runs a fair-trade ...

Aha Naturtextilien

Fashion

... boutique, Aha Naturtextilien, on Hauptstraße, offering a great selection of fairly traded fashion made from natural materials. Here you will also find a good selection of stationary, jewellery, eatable fair-trade goods and more. By the way: the name "Aha" is an abbreviation for "trade/act differently" ("anders handeln" in German), and implies a huge effort in not only selling fairly traded goods but offering fair conditions to their own employees.

Another centrally located fair-trade shop specializing in fashion and household accessoires as well as coffee and chocolates is Contigo near the central train station.

If you follow the Hauptstraße boulevard up north and cross Albertplatz, just before you approach the Wilhelminian houses in Alaunstraße head into the yard to the left. There you'll find Baum&Wolle, an amazingly large fashion emporium offering a huge selection of clothes made from organic and fairly traded natural materials. In addition to fashion and accessoires for women (and a smaller selection for men), there's also a wide range of natural products for babies and toddlers. Knitters will be happy to find organic woollen yarns. Most of the clothing is part of the latest collections of sustainable fashion labels, but you will also find carefully selected second hand items.

Dresden's first fashion boutique exclusively selling fairly produced clothing from fairly traded, organically grown materials is dubbed Populi and can be found at the Western end of Louisenstraße, just before you reach the tram tracks of Königsbrücker Landstraße. Both, streetware, denim and designer labels can be found here, for men and women. The interior of the shop is to a great deal made from upcycled furniture.

Students and nerds find fairly traded organic cotton t-shirts and sweaters with unique scientific prints at Unipolar. This small, Dresden-based fashion label is the brain-child of a former physics student, and has two outlets (in addition to the on-line shop). The original store is located between the Bahnhof Mitte train station and the "Carl Maria von Weber" College of Music, while the latest opening of course happened in the Neustadt neighbourhood. The latter can easily be found by spotting a bath tub opposite a tram stop in Rothenburger Straße.

If you have a crush on individually made upcycled fashion accessoires pay a visit to Ex Animo at Martin-Luther-Platz. The shop specializes in clothes and accessoires for babies, toddlers and younger children, but you will find nice gifts for grown-ups (like cigarette wallets), too. Note that it is (like the Unipolar stores) closed on Mondays.

A custom tailor for both, men and women, Mein schönes Kleid ("my beautiful dress") on Bautzner Straße also has a selection of pret-a-porter items made from natural materials (linen, silk and cotton) only. Ask for organic textiles.

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down, so don't be mislead when you find references to them on the web:

2018-03-27 17:00:01 [Dresden, Neustadt, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, spices, herbs, delicatessen, gifts, upcycling, steampunk, bodycare] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Bremen: Organic coffee and tea houses

A hotspot for the coffee and tea trade the Hanseatic city of Bremen has a tradition for exotic beverages, and has always been a place with room for a subtler and more sophisticated approach to these beverages than the conventional mass-market. Organic and ecological projects have been blooming here for much longer than elsewhere, and so you can expect to find long established organic places blossoming alongside recent start-ups. What you will rarely find however are shiny, polished hipster cafes.

Neustadt

For the quick and dirty coffee shot step by Falko‘s Faire Bohne a ten minutes walk from Leibnitzplatz. It's actually a shop selling coffee equipment, with a shabby-chic sofa and coffee table and a few chairs outdoor as long as the weather allows for it, for the customer to sample the organic and fairly traded coffee she wishes to buy home. Falko also offers a selection of locally sourced juices (not labelled organic) and fairly traded sweets and cookies. Have a chat with him and take a breath of the atmosphere of the Neustadt neighbourhood.

Radieschen

If you have to describe this quarter in a sentence you'd probably point to the omnipresence of flee market-purchased furniture and objects in its lovingly and individually decorated independent shops and cafes. The beer tables on the pleasant garden terrace of Cafe Radieschen ("radish") as well as its indoor walls are all painted pink! If you come hungry first have a predominantly organic vegetarian or vegan pasta dish or sandwich before you turn to their impressive choice of home-made, predominantly organic cakes. Most drinks as well as the milk are organic, you can have an organic vegan ice-cream in the summer, and ingredients are sourced locally as far as possible. Lunch is usually offered between 12 am and 3 pm, and instead of the weekend the place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The cafe plays host to a lot of neighbourhood activities, among them home-cooking events with young refugees from the house across the street.

Another cosy and serene place for an Italian-style coffee drink is the Lei bistrot reviewed in the restaurant post.

Schnoor

The city's narrowest lanes are to be found in tourist hotspot Schnoor at the other, Northern shore of the river Weser. To enjoy the atmosphere of this oldest part of town dating back to the 15th and 16th century, follow the Wüstestätte ("waste site") alleyway until the end and have a tea in a beautiful yet narrow two-storey tea house and shop dubbed Teestübchen ("little tea parlour"). Nice weather provided you can also sit outdoor and enjoy breakfast or tea time with a home-made cake, or a high tea with a pasta, typical local dishes, or Alsatian "pizza" (Flammkuchen). Many ingredients are organic, but you might want to be picky when choosing the tea since not all of them are. Note that the kitchen closes at 9:30 pm.

At the university campus

University refectories usually are no gourmet temples, but it is nevertheless a pity that the Mensa refectory on the campus stopped to offer organic side dishes. What you still can have is an organic and fairly traded coffee drink with locally sourced organic milk from the coffee vending machines at Cafe Central. It's not a delight, though -- the coffee tastes bitter from too high a temperature inside the machine, but it's cheap (1.30 EUR) and ethical.

Closed

2017-08-31 13:00:01 [Bremen, Neustadt, Schnoor, Worpswede, organic, fair, vegan, vegetarian, coffee, tea, lunch, cafe, breakfast] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.