Mannheim: Sustainable Shopping
If you prefer to set out on a shopping spree on a bicycle and prefer a rented bike that is not tracking you pay a visit to Fahrrad Schieber, a more than one hundred years local bicycle workshop located a few steps from the Wasserturm landmark within the squared part of town, the "Quadrate". For 10 EUR a day you will be provided with a well maintained used bike. If it against all odds breaks during your trip, do not hesitate to step by, it will be fixed promptly.
Founded almost 25 years ago your first stop could be HautNah, a fashion boutique specializing in ecologically and fairly produced clothes made from natural materials. The shop is a member of the International Association of Natural Textiles (iVN) and aims at those looking for classical long-living cuts rather than at cutting-edge fashionistas (for trending fashion you may try the shops listed below). Needless to say that HautNah also offers an assortment of healthy outfits for babies and toddlers.
Leaving the ring road and entering the Quadrate through Kunststraße you'll find a tea shop of the Tee Gschwendtner franchise. Although this specialist chain is selling conventionally produced teas and tisanes in the first place its shops have proved to be a trustworthy source of organic teas and herbal infusions for years. You can buy all kinds of loose teas and herbal infusions as well as high quality tea bags and even pre-fab iced teas, and there will usually be organic options. Although most teas will be filled into bags before your eyes there's always a minimum quantum you have to buy (usually 50 or 100 grams), and you have to buy standardized packages (bigger sizes being 250 or 500 grams).
Leaving the Quadrate for the eastern part of town the Wohnhunger gift shop next to Eddie's zero waste supermarket offers a selection of organic delicatessen like coffee, soups, chocolates, liquors, herbs and spices, some zero-waste items like natural soap and cotton dish washing clothes and a lot of other cosy things. Unfortunately the organic coffee isn't used at the coffee bar, and the milk for the coffee drinks isn't organic. About two years ago the shop also offered an organic soup or stew for lunch, but these are songs from the past.
More to try
Here's a list of shops which I had on my list for research but didn't manage to visit myself. Let me know about your experience!
The city's online tourist guide suggests to get yourself a "bio" picnic basket for a stroll at the embankments. Don't fall for it! The only organic items that come with this "Wellness-Korb für Vegetarier" are two bottles of the organic bionade soft drink:
- Die Metzgerei, Rheinparkstr. 4 (bistro in the Lindenhof neighbourhood)
The following places do no longer exist, although you still might find references to them on the web:
- Fairbrothers, C8, 18 (fairly traded organic fashion)
2018-12-31 19:55:00 [Mannheim, organic, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, spices, delicatessen, gifts, bodycare, coffee, tea, cycling, zero_waste] Link
To find a self-respecting restaurant or supermarket snack bar not equipped with a restaurant-size Italian espresso machine can be difficult, and even the tiniest organic corner shop will try to offer you ubiquituous Italian-style coffee drinks. Likewise you can have organic tea bag teas and infusions of usually decent quality. But for the modern nomad on the job, the afternoon chat with friends or the traveller in search of a undisturbed place for a break or observations, the dedicated coffee or tea house is a far more appropriate place to spent hours. Common for all the places listed here that they are closed in the evening – usually around 6pm, some keep open until 8pm. Note that weekend opening hours may be even more restricted.
Viennese style coffee houses
The headline is misleading – even if an increasing number of cafes see themselves in the tradition of Viennese coffee houses when it comes to the stuccoed interior, the dark wooden furniture, a selection of daily newspapers as well as the menu, they will usually serve Italian-style coffee drinks. The perfect place for breakfast and a coffee break at any time of the day, you will also be served lunch and snacks throughout the day. Expect however to order more of the deliciously handcrafted cakes than you initially intended to.
Organic to a much lesser degree – they promise to serve organic milk and eggs throughout their menu, i.e. also as ingredients in drinks, cakes and dishes – is Kafehaus Karameel in Neuhausen, opposite the terminal loop near tram stop Neuhausen. Romantically decorated on two storeys connected by a flight of winding stairs it's the perfect place to have a look at their impressive selection of daily newspapers, let time pass by and have a Viennese-style coffee. Crowded on weekends, so book your table in advance. During the warm season a generous number of outdoor tables overlooking the tram tracks and a little park will increase your chances.
Oriental style coffee
The best Turkish coffee in town is arguably made on Orleansplatz in Haidhausen. Iunu is a perfect place to meet a friend for a chat or have a recreational lunch or coffee break (they also serve espresso, cappuccino and latte). Some of the coffee, the milk and some staples like agave syrup are organic, but they use fewer organic ingredients now than in the past, especially the veges for vegetarian and ayurvedic lunch dish usually are not organic. What you get is nevertheless good wholesome food, with quite restricted use of herbs. If you rather feel for a chat with the owner have your seat at the coffee bar and enjoy her irresistible cakes. With a small but carefully chosen range of delicatessen the place will also save you when in need for an unplanned last minute gift. On Saturdays Iunu is often unexpectedly closed due to arrangements, so check in advance.
If you happen to come in vain, take the short walk along Breisacher Straße where another hidden gem, Saladins Souk will quench your thirst for an oriental style coffee.
Italian style bars
Pop in, have a coffee, a chat, a sweet, and pop out again – the Italian bar is the hotspot of a neighbourhood. And so is the Emilo coffee bar in the self-proclaimed Northern-most city of Italy, run by a small scale local coffee roaster of the same name. Though it is situated only a little walk from Isartor or party hotspot Gärtnerplatz in the hip Glockenbach neighbourhood it's mainly frequented by regulars whom the barista, Mr. Filser with his rustic Bavarian charme greets personally. Since only a selection of their coffees is organic you may wish to order organic coffees explicitely. They use organic milk throughout the menu, and the eggs and spelt flour used in their rustic and extremely yummy Bavarian home-made cakes are all organic, too (the only exception are the croissants made by a French bakery). Apart from Italian style coffee drinks you can also order cold brews and shop from the roasters coffee specialities. An insider's tip all worth the detour from your usual route through the city. Recently they also opened a new branch in Munich's Westend -- an important destination for all Oktoberfest visitors.
In the middle of humming Viktualienmarkt market North of the crossing Reichenbachstraße/Frauenstraße there's Kaffeerösterei Viktualienmarkt, a vibrant market booth with bar tables under a roof. So even if the weather is bad and you're outside there's no reason to give up plans for an Italian style coffee drink made with sustainably sourced (though not organically certified), locally roasted coffee. The milk is organic and comes from traditionally working mountain farms in the Berchtesgadener Land district, packaged by the co-operatively driven Berchtesgadener Land dairy which, in 2017, banned the use of glyphosate for all its farmers, not only the organic ones.
Shabby chic and homely places
You might expect this type of recycled art garden house furnished place in the university quarters, but here you are on Rosenheimer Platz, opposite the Vollcorner supermarket, to find Die Kaffee-Küche. A pleasantly mixed audience populates the chairs, tables and shelves partially made of wooden wine cases, and you may find that the place is popular among young mothers with prams. They use organic milk and partially organic coffee by a local coffee roaster, and before ordering a coffee drink to take away in a disposable beaker consider buying a bio-degradable dishwasher-prove multitrip cup right away. If you come with your own cup to take away your coffee or tea you will receive a discount of 0.50 EUR. On the menu are home-made cakes, sandwiches, salads and a soup dish, most of them suffering from the absence of organic ingredients. A generally nice retreat, especially recommended during the advent season while the Christmas market on Weißenburger Platz keeps open. (Their mulled wine and other warm alcoholic drinks are of superior quality when compared to the market booth fare.) Occasionally there are small concerts. Another nice service: The ladies' restroom will help you out with (conventional) hairspray, handcream, tampons and other toiletries if needed.
A smaller cafe run as a social enterprise is just a five minutes walk away (although you have to cross busy Rosenheimer Straße): Cafe Plaisir moved next door to a bigger and lighter venue in 2018 -- and stopped using organic ingredients for their home-made ice-cream, chocolates, cakes and cookies. Still, tea and coffee drinks and a few more items are marked on the menu with a little heart denoting organic, and eggs -- where marked -- come from organic farms raising both, the hens and their cockerel brothers. Be patient and kind if the serving personnel does not respond immediately -- the shop is a social enterprise run by longterm-unemployed persons.
On your way from "Kaffee-Küche" to "Cafe Plaisir" directly located on Rosenheimer Straße is Emmi's kitchen, a small, decidedly vegetarian place offering smoothies, salads, stews and soups, coffee drinks and cake with a focus on locally sourced, predominantly vegan food. They use organic milk and brown sugar. More organic ingredients may be hidden (the apple used to decorate the yummy still warm vegan cinnamon roll I had was organic), but they won't promise anything. The place opened in summer 2016 and still is a hidden gem where you will easily find a place to sit down, read or work – more demanding customers may encourage a stricter organic focus. Since the cafe is directly facing the noisy and highly polluted street you may prefer a visit on cold days when the door usually is closed. The owners are still experimenting with their opening hours, so even though they advertise evening opening hours until 20 pm you might find the place closed earlier, especially on Saturdays. If you order by Deliveroo or come to take away without your own food container they fill your meal into disposable containers made from sustainable or recycled resources.
Not far from Ostbahnhof station Kosy*s cafe promises to be "your second living room". As long as you have some tolerance towards cake stands filled with kitschy sweets guaranteed free from natural colourings and a decidedly vintage feel you can have an organic tea or soft drink, a coffee drink made with organic milk, organic eggs and cereals for breakfast or a hearty lunch often entirely made from organic ingredients in a leisurely atmosphere. The good thing is that organic ingredients aren't shamefully hidden – when it's organic they'll make it transparent on the menu. The bad news: their homemade cakes unfortunately are not organic, not even the eggs.
Another cosy living room dubbed Zimtzicke is tucked away in comparatively quiet Elsässer Straße, this also just a five minutes walk from Ostbahnhof. All their teas, coffees, the milk and eggs are organic. Their lunch dishes, although mainly not organic, are tasty. However, when I enquired about the ingredients of the individual dishes on the menu, the staff wasn't able to tell whether they contained organic ingredients. The tiny place smells lovely of home-make cakes, some of them vegan. A perfect location to warm up after a winter walk in the city, and a pleasant retreat to welcome spring or to enjoy a summer day in the city on a table in front of it.
Another option to mingle with natives is a homely shabby chic neighbourhood cafe cum gallery in the neighbourhood of Au, on the Eastern shore of river Isar near Deutsches Theater. The audience of Café Käthe is mixed, coffee, milk, tea, rolls and cakes as well as most of the softdrinks are organic. They don't serve hot food, but you can have breakfast, sandwiches, cereals, and salads all day. Many but not all ingredients are organic, so ask if you care but be prepared that the service personnel isn't prepared to answer on the spot. Summer-closed until September, 6th 2018.
Big enough to almost guarantee a free seat for the visitor-by-chance is Cafe Katzentempel in the Maxvorstadt university quarter. You must however not suffer from a cat allergy as this rather special vegan place is inhabitated by six cats, and the once nice wallpaper on the wall with the scratch pole facing the entrance has already become rather shabby. Most of the softdrinks are organic as are all soy products and the cow milk (on request used for non-vegan coffee and tea-based drinks). The place offers an impressive range of organic nuts and grain milks to be ordered for your latte. The food and home-made cakes may include additional organic ingredients, although they aren't generally organic, just of local origin if possible. Students and apprentices are entitled special prices Tuesday through Friday, and free wifi is available. Depending on your table you may find the slightly aggressive sales presentation of the Katzentempel brand t-shirts disturbing – overall a place to either love or detest.
On the Eastern edge of Viktualienmarkt, a few steps from Marienplatz you'll find the Munich branch of a very special chain – MyMuesli, a web order shop for organic cereals and porridges which keeps opening offline branches throughout the German-speaking countries. No cakes to be had here but Italian style coffee drinks, juices, and of course mueslis, porridges and cereals in case you are a little hungry or in need for an organic breakfast. The major aim of the shop is of course to sell their products but for a quick WLAN or coffee break in the busy heart of the city the functionally styled place isn't a bad option. They also have a second shop (offering free WLAN though without cafe) on ground floor of the Pasing-Arcaden mall in case you are stranded on München-Pasing train station.
If you happen to strand in the urban desert of office blocks between the tube stops of Karl-Preis-Platz and Sankt-Martin-Straße head for the Neue Balan campus, a former industrial area where in the past Siemens produced semiconductors. Quite centrally you'll find Balan Deli, a modern yet comfortably furnished day cafe run as a not-for-profit company providing fair employment for an inclusive team of people with and without handicaps. The cafe was founded by the nearby inclusive Montessori school and designed by a Hamburg based artist. You can have a healthy lunch, partially based on organic ingredients, or simply an organic coffee, tea, wine or soft drink, often sourced from local producers, in a pleasant environment. The bread for the sandwiches comes from a local organic bakery. Unfortunately the service staff is not very knowledgeable (yet) about organic and sustainably produced food (when I enquired about the milk they told me it was organic although they actually use the cheaper conventional product of the Berchtesgadener Land dairy which also offers an extended range of organic dairy products), but was happy to ask the kitchen staff about the origin of the chicken in the Thai curry (which was not organic).
Self-service coffee house chains
For those seriously into tea the ultimate target in town is Tushita Teehaus in the Glockenbach neighbourhood, near the Western exit of tube station Fraunhofer Straße (and a five minutes walk South of Gärtnerplatz). To taste their around 150 organic and often fairly traded tea and tisane varieties (which aren't exhaustively listed on the menu) can take some time, but you can buy them to take with you. With every order the staff will hold a microscopic tea ceremony for you, and hot water for a second extraction is served in a small thermos aside. In the past they often used too hot water for some of their delicate green teas resulting in a bitter beverage, but this fortunately had changed to the better at my last visit. In addition they serve small vegan dishes as well as yummy home-made cakes, all organic, and there's a Japanese touch to both, the decoration, the food and the subtle focus on Japanese tea and matcha. Consequently the place is frequented by visitors of Japanese origin as well as the occasional Indian gentleman or the German hippie or university professor reading their daily. Given how frequented the place often is there's a quiet, pleasantly concentrated atmosphere to it.
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
- Emilo am Odeonsplatz, Odeonspl. 14
- Fritz Brotbar, Nymphenburger Str. 154 (bakery cum cafe)
- Fritz Mühlenbäckerei, Müllerstr. 46 (cafe cum eatery)
- San Francisco Coffee Company, Nymphenburger Str. 151 (cafe)
- San Francisco Coffee Company, Riem-Arcaden, Willy-Brandt-Pl. (cafe) Himmelherrgott, Waldfriedhofstr. 105 (cafe)
- Kaffee Sonnenschein, Gietlstr. 17
2018-10-27 10:30:00 [Munich, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, Westend, organic, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant, Italian, Japanese] Link
At the first glance Budapest is full of organic health (food) shops, Bio Bolt in Hungarian, however, most of them predominantly deal in pills and powders. So unless dietary supplements (including super foods, plant-based milk alternatives, flours, nuts and other ingredients to prep up your cereals) are what you're looking for or the shop (like the recently opened Bio Egészség Biobolt behind the Synagogue) is on your track anyway, it's much easier to stick to one of the many branches of the German DM chemist's chain for travel supplies like organic dry goods, fruit juices, vegan alternatives, eco detergents and natural bodycare. Check for organic labels as (especially for cosmetics and toiletry products) there's increased green-washing in conventional product lines which also are available here. The DM own brands "DM Bio" (food) and "Alverde" (body care) are both good value and safe if your budget is tight or you're in a hurry.
What you won't find there are typical food souvenirs from Hungary: paprika, salami and wine. To buy these you need to find a proper biobolt or farmers' market, and these aren't as easy to find as one might expect. A reliable source is BioABC, a small, yet well assorted organic supermarket in Belváros, located between Astoria and Kálvin tér. They have only a small selection of wines (above the fridges), the salami is tucked away in a separate fridge in the right-most corner next to the shop's window front, and you can choose from several types of Hungarian paprika powder. Apart from this they stock local fresh produce, dairy products, sweets and cookies, preserves as well as natural body care, both of local origin as well as imported goods, in short all daily necessities. Bring your own containers for buying loose-weight dry goods.
A second option is the Mennyország Szíve Bio Bolt a few steps from the Keleti Palyaudvar train station. Here you can also have a coffee, breakfast or vegan lunch just after arrival or before departing. However, the place is closed on weekends as well as public holidays which is why I cannot give an account of the quality of neither the food nor the range of goods sold here.
For high-end Hungarian wines pay a visit to Cultivini Wine Cellars and Tasting in Belváros (5th district). The place is very upmarket, with the opportunity for wine tasting, and specializes in Hungarian wines. If you ask for organic and natural wines the sommeliers will competently advise and answer questions, but you have to be bold on your interest in organic wines as they will point you to conventionally produced wines in the course of the discussion if you aren't firm.
Books, coffee and tea
The classical bookstore you know from French movies does still exist -- and has adapted to modern times by becoming a cafe and co-working space in Erzsébetváros: The English language bookstore cum cafe Massolit does not only sell hand-picked English literature, a few tourist books, a small selection of stationary and fairly-traded coffee drinks or organic tea, but also offers quiches and cakes for both, a breakfast or the casual snack in between. While the milk for the coffee is organic (though not certified), the origin of the ingredients of the bakery items isn't easy to tell, for a good reason: Both, the bagels, cakes and quiches are hand-made by friends of the shop owner from the neighbourhood who earn an additional income this way. While some of them will certainly use eggs or milk from a properly working local farmer, conventional supermarket supply is also part of the game. If you want to stay here for work buy a co-working card, take a seat in the pleasant backyard or at some of the wooden tables inside. Water and wifi is for free but note that the place is closed on Mondays.
More to try
When I asked locals about where to buy organic fruit I was directed to the Fény utcai piac marketplace near Széll Kálmán tér. Unfortunately, none of the market stalls showed signs of the key words "bio" or "öko", or of any organic labels or certificates. Since I don't speak Hungarian (and the command of foreign languages among the farmers was limited, too), the topic was too difficult to handle -- let me know if you're able to find out more. On weekends there are two dedicated organic or at least partially organic farmers' markets, pay a visit -- I'm glad if you'd share your experience with me.
References on the web do often exist longer than shops and venues themselves. The following places I found abandoned when I stepped by.
- Farmer's market at Közös piac, Király utca 8 (central passage), Sat 10-17
- Born 2 Bio, Kertész utca 50 (supermarket cum cafe)
2018-10-13 15:00:00 [Budapest, organic, wine, grocery, market, supermarkets, vegetarian, vegan, zero_waste, lunch, breakfast, coffee, tea, books] Link
Cities with major universities have had organic shops long before the arrival of the big organic supermarkets, and Göttingen doesn't make an exception: Probably the eldest still existing organic cafe in town is Café Inti, serving tapas, sandwiches and small dishes with a Bolivian touch to it, or at least what a students' cafe is offering as such: good and filling due to proper organic ingredients, but far from any ambition for authenticity. The "Inti-Tasche" for example isn't a corn tortilla wrap but a plain white ciabatta-type roll filled with Italian-style antipasti. Needless to say that they offer Italian-style fairly traded coffee drinks and yummy cakes, and what's even better: They serve breakfast until 2pm. A welcoming place all day around if you like places with a liberal collegiate atmosphere whereof there are quite a number in the city.
If all you want is a coffee shot head for the city's only organic coffee roasters', the Contigo. This fair-trade shop cum cafe also sells colourful gifts, fashion items, organic coffee and chocolates.
A fully organic dinner restaurant I wasn't able to spot during my shorter than one-day stay, but lokal neun, directly located at the market place Am Wochenmarkt serves organic burgers and steaks, and is a pleasant place to enjoy a summer evening outside.
2018-06-30 13:00:03 [Goettingen, organic, fair, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, dinner, cafe, restaurant, gifts] Link
Arriving in a university city you will no longer be surprised to learn there's a crowdfounded organic zero-waste shop in town. And what's even better -- the Wunderbar unverpackt ("Wonderfully devoid of packaging") grocery that opened May 2018 is (to my knowledge) the next organic supermarket when coming from the train station. Directly opposite St. Marien church you'll find all kinds of organic dry food, sweets, dairy products and beverages in retour glass bottles, organic body care and household detergents in this beautifully furnished corner shop. They even have a cheese counter, but no fresh fruits and veges. Weigh your empty jars on the scales by the window, put down the weight, and fill them on the self-service dispensers. Re-usable jars can also be bought on the spot, and the friendly owner will help you promptly when approached.
The tip for "Wunderbar unverpackt" came from the Naturalia grocery at Wöhlerplatz which itself offers a small assortment of dry food (pasta, cereals, nuts, rice and the like) in self-service dispensers, and apart from this is a friendly traditional crammed organic wholesale shop where eggs, bakery items, fruits, veges and cheese can be taken home in your own jars and bags. In addition it is also a tea shop -- so bring your tea boxes for refill.
Loose-weight fruits and veges can of course be bought in all organic groceries, so support the small local dealers who will happily support you when you ask them to put bread, eggs, cheese and more into the bags and boxes you present. One of them is Das Backhaus, an organic bakery turned neighbourhood grocery next to Cafe Inti. This organic "baking house" in fact is a branch of a bakery based in Klein Lengden with shops both there and in Göttingen, delivering to many organic markets in the greater region.
Another one is the Gemüseladen in the Western suburb of Geismar, near the church of St. Martin, an organic greengrocery offering lots of regional produce. Of course, there are many more, but these were all I managed to visit on my one-day stay.
Household items supporting a package-free lifestyle can also be found at the factory outlet of the eco postal order shop Waschbär near Geismartor.
2018-06-30 09:10:01 [Goettingen, Geismar, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, grocery, supermarkets, bodycare, household, tea, bakeries] Link