Saturday, 13 August 2022
Located at the mouth of the river Weser, the
port of Bremerhaven has been ensuring
the hanseatic city of Bremen's access to the sea for sea-going ships since the 1820ies. While the
container port (and unfortunately also the cruise ship terminal) continue to be important sea hubs, the historic ports of the Havenwelten ("port world") with maritime museums of all kinds make the family-friendly city a perfect destination for everyone interested in science, ships, and (e)migration.
A destination of the easy-going
Weserradweg bicycle route Bremerhaven can not only be reached by regional train from Bremen, but also comfortably by bike.
Eat and drink
Since the Findus cafe and restaurant re-invented itself as an organic bakery during the covid-19 pandemics and staff shortage prevails in 2022 there's currently (to my knowledge) no place to have (predominantly) organic dinner. But during the day take the chance to visit Deutsches Auswandererhaus, a museum dedicated to German emigration to the Americas. The museum has a pleasant cafe cum restaurant, the Speisesaal, with a spacious outdoor terrace facing the quays of the so-called new port in the Havenwelten area.
Their menu consists of two parts: Fully organic, predominantly vegetarian international lunch classics like pasta, stews, and gratins, and not necessarily organic maritime classics like fish soup or fish'n'chips. The organic dishes and beverages are all marked "bio" and can be recognised by the red font colour on the menu. Fish and seafood come from responsible sources. Naturally the milk for coffee drinks is also organic. 2022 staff shortage leads to occasionally slow service, so enjoy the view and be a little patient.
While the Speisesaal is open to the general public, the Cafe südwärts inside the Klimahaus 8° Ost a few steps away can only be accessed with a valid ticket to the museum. The museum features places located on the same lattitude like Bremerhaven as an interactive journey through the (changing) climate zones of the earth and as such is highly recommended by itself. The cafe can be accessed after you come to the river landsacpe of Cameroon and offers
organic egg, pasta, orange juice and bionade lemonades. The fish also carries
MSC certificates, and there are
no meat dishes.
The museum's shop
is accessible for non-visitors from the entrance, the so-called Havenplaza. It offers environmentally and socially resposibly produced gifts and dry food,
but unfortunately does not serve (fairly traded) coffee.
To have an organic coffee not connected with a museum you have to walk longer south, to the Fischereihafen ("fish port"). Here you'll find a small owner-run café, Grethe's, directly located at the quay. All coffee and milk is organic here, as are most of the ingredients for their cakes and vegetarian food. You can have burgers, pasta dishes, soups and stews, and most drinks apart from a few spirits are organic, too. Unfortunately also this presumably lovely place with its art gallery located in a former motor workshop closes at 6 pm and does not keep open on Mondays and Tuesdays.
For an organic coffee or snack until 8 pm the only opportunity I've seen so far is the self-serviced cafe of the ALECO Biomarkt in the neighbourhood of Lehe, an urban train stop away from the main station.
Food and necessities
Glückswinkel package-free shop organic and responsibly produced small-scale regional food, fresh organic produce of the Findus organic bakery a few steps away, sustainable household items and cleaning agents, clothes for babies and toddlers, repair sets, nice gifts and more.
While the Glückswinkel is located in the centre of the old town, there's no organic convenience store in the mall of the Havenwelten area. Luckily the Grünschnabel Biomarkt is only a few steps away.
The organic supermarket nearest the main train station is Der Bioladen in the
streets around Holzhafen, the part of town that from 1877 for about half a century was used to land and process timber. Note that these two traditional organic supermarkets close at 6 pm and are closed on Saturday afternoons.
To find an organic supermarket with more liberal opening hours you have to go to the neighbourhood of Lehe: There you find a branch of the regional ALECO Biomarkt chain which runs many organic supermarkets in the North of Germany.
Bremerhaven's only fully organic day cafe Findus resettled its activities during the covid-19 pandemics and became an organic bakery only. There are however plans to re-open the cafe, so check on location and ask at the bakery.
[Bremerhaven, Weserradweg, organic, vegan, coffee, lunch, cafe, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, zero_waste, unverpackt, fair, corona, covid]
Tuesday, 09 August 2022
If you fancy a freshly made organic ice-cream in Bremen be prepared to work out – hope for good weather, rent a bicycle and do as many locals do: Set out on a 15 kilometers ride, first in direction University, and then on the
dyke safeguarding the land against the river Wümme to a dairy farm run by friendly family Kaemena in Niederblockland.
On the embankment cars are allowed with a special permit only, but an astonishing number of locals come here by bicycle, foot or skating to enjoy an organic ice-cream (the scoop goes for 1.80 EUR in 2022), coffee or cold organic drink and enjoy the farm and the countryside.
The ice-cream is made right here on the farm: from the milking station to the ice-cream factory it's only about 25 metres, and another few metres to the cafe.
Don't miss the poppy seed ice-cream and the varieties based on buttermilk and yogurt. And please, avoid ordering your ice-cream in a one-way paper cup: for a little surplus you can have a vegan wafer cup (free for three or more scoops), compostable if you do not eat it. You may also take a free wafer ice-spoon instead of a plastics one.
Opening hours on pleasant summer days may be a little longer than announced, but when the cafe is closed you can still buy iced lollies from the 24x7 open vending machine at the farm.
While the vending machines are serviced throughout the year the ice-cream parlour is closed in winter.
The farm itself is driven according to the seven Bioland principles, with about 80 cows (which all have individual names) and calves who are fed by and kept together with their mothers until they eat grass and hay (which is at an age of about five weeks). The cattle race comes without horns naturally, so no harm is done to the animals in order to remove them. The farm also keeps a few other animals like geese, two pigs, a couple of goats, pheasants and chicken (both hens and cocks) and gives home to a lot of wildlife like a sparrow colony and swallows.
There's a nice playground for children, and if you want to stay longer (minimum one week) the family rents out several pleasant holiday apartments (but make sure to book well in advance for holiday seasons).
In May 2022 the Kaemenas opened a new Sunday-open ice-cream parlour cum farm shop in the Neustadt. If you don't want to have your ice-cream on the go, there's little seating, a few benches outdoor, and some high chairs inside, to have a coffee, milk-shake or a "cold" chocolate with ice-cream. The cafe participates in the Recup scheme, so make sure to have your hot or cold drink to take away in a returnable cup.
Unlike the cafe at the farm this place will keep open around the year and provide you not only with ice-cream but also with cheese, jogurt, and milk.
Throughout the covid-19 summers the stylish mobile coffee bar of Coffee Bike stops in the very city centre on Ansgarikirchhof Monday through Saturday and offers both, fully organic coffee drinks and Kaemena's ice-cream to passers-by. Unfortunately they do not have neither eatable ice-cream wafers nor earthenware cups for the coffee, so you're forced to enjoy it in non-compostable one-way cups unless you bring your own.
[Bremen, Neustadt, Blockland, organic, ice-cream, cafe, accommodation, farms]
Bremen offers plenty opportunities for an organic lunch ranging from a cheap and simple meal at a refectory to the posh organic business lunch.
For dinner there's significantly less choice – you may opt for fast food or a friendly place to meet friends, but to have an organic candle light dinner will be difficult. Don't expect highly sophisticated international cuisine – Bremen restaurants are best when it comes to local dishes based on regional ingredients (which are totally different from e.g. the meat-centric Bavarian cuisine) and rather adapt international influences than aim at an – whatever the definition may be – authentic experience of a foreign cuisine.
The food served in "Indian" restaurants in Germany usually does not have much in common with the food actually served in India – and the Punjabi food served at the – to my knowledge – oldest organic restaurant in Bremen, the
Krishna a short walk from the Southern end of either Wilhelm Kaisen or Bürgermeister Smidt bridge is also adapted to this idea of how Europeans are likely to like Indian food.
This is probably not a surprise since the restaurant generates its main business from its delivery and take-away service. The good news about it – there's always a spare table in the restaurant which now after more than ten years looks a little worn, resembling actual restaurants in India.
Since the main ingredients of the pakoras, curries and tandoori dishes – meat, dairy products and vegetables – are organic the food is much more palatable than in conventional "Indian" restaurants. You can choose between rice and naan bread as a side dish, and each curry comes with a salad (dressed with a balsamico-based dressing) in advance.
The menu hasn't changed much in all these years – lamb, chicken, fish, cheese (paneer) and/or vegetables in a gravy, and as a recent addition gravy with tofu as a vegan alternative. You might wish to start your meal with an (organic) yogurt drink (lassi) and finish with a cup of chai or hot saffron milk.
There's also a selection of cold organic drinks available. If you have the chance take a chat with the friendly Punjabi owner, but do not expect much flexibility from his staff which often even cannot remember the dishes and will ask you for the number on the menu when ordering.
Note that the restaurant is open evenings only.
For an organic pizza slice, a chili stew, sometimes pasta and
fairly traded organic coffee sailed from Honduras to Europe and transported by bicycle
pay a visit to the Biten food truck at the farmer's market at the Domshof in front of Markthalle 8.
Mind you that the truck leaves early in the afternoon and some days simply won't be there.
Clean and raw
Formerly located inside the Markthalle 8 food court Noras Deli took over the location of the Lei in the Viertel neighbourhood and now is simply dubbed Noras.
The place was refurbished in lounge style, and although the menu starts with two savoury dishes – a very palatable Buddha Bowl and a properly spiced chickpeas curry – it's more of a cafe during daytime turning into an American bar in the evening. It
offers coffee drinks, breakfast, pancakes, smoothie bowls, freshly made juices and shots as well as healthy sweets without refined sugar (don't miss the filled dates by the piece), both to eat here and to take away. There's a small range of carefully choosen wines and fully organic cocktails.
You can sit outside and indoors.
Regional – International
For a coffee or lunch break you have another opportunity in the vicinity: the
Bio-Biss im Alten Fundamt, a recreational place which has been offering organic food for many years, formerly under the name "Mundart im Alten Fundamt" and now in the second generation of tenants, as "Bio-Biss". In summer it's a pleasure to eat outside in the large backyard, with a kindergarden and a home for the elderly as neighbours. The menu changes daily and offers tasty seasonal food using predominantly local ingredients from their own farm or other organic farms nearby. The dishes are based on local food traditions or derived from Italian or Oriental cuisines, and always served both, as a regular and a small portion.
You may also have an organic ice-cream from the Kaemena farm.
A less sophisticated yet filling organic lunch for a cheap price can be had at the
Leckerbiss refectories run by the Bio-Biss caterers on the Radio Bremen campus in Vahr
within the refectory of the Bremen Senator for Children and Education in the city center.
On weekdays you can choose from two wholefood dishes, one of them vegetarian, and a soup. In addition there is coffee and some snacks. Not all ingredients and drinks however are organic. The
Bio-Biss refectory on the University campus opposite Universum unfortunately was closed in 2020, probably due to covid-19 restrictions.
For a romantic evening out or whenever you are in the mood for fine (but not pretentious) Northern dining visit the
Canova restaurant behind Kunsthalle. Many of their supplies come from organic farms in the greater Bremen area, among others from a gardener cultivating ancient and forgotten local herbs and vegetables. There are a few vegan/vegetarian and meat-based courses, but the focus is on responsibly sourced fish and seafood. The four-course menu was absolutely perfect after a leisurely day in the countryside; for the six-course menu you should probably come hungry. Of course, you may freely choose from the menu, too. During the warm season don't miss the
pleasure to sit on their serene terrace.
The team also runs the Cafe Sylvette inside the art museum.
In the covid-19 pandemic summer of 2021 there was a food truck in the Wallanlagen park opposite of the Kunsthalle, run in co-operation with the Kukoon cultural center which was relocated to the park at Leibnitzplatz in 2022.
Directly located at the Contrescape park, at the edge of the picturesque Fedelhören neighbourhood with its small owner-run shops
Café Heinrich is a popular day cafe serving classic German dishes like potatoes in their jacket and internationally inspired ones like Flammkuchen, the Alsatian pizza, predominantly made with ingredients from the region. The menu lists organic soft drinks and promises organic cheeses, bread and salami, but you should probably take these promises with a grain of salt and ask beforehand: When I was there the milk from the free-ranging cows of
a farm from the region turned out to be conventional supermarket-fare of the "Frischli" brand.
The place used to be open until 6 or even 8 pm, but staff shortness lead to early closing times in summer 2022.
If you rather opt for fast food there are two options, both of them only a few steps away from each other, in the city's central shopping area.
Opposite the back entrance to the Kaufhof department store you can find 1885 Burger, a self-serving American-type diner using
organic beef and bacon in their burgers. Start queuing at the left side and choose the type of patty and home-made bun you prefer. While the patty is being grilled before your eyes move to the right and specify the sauces, vegetables and condiments as well as your drinks (I'd suggest the organic Störtebeker beer). Some of the veges are organic, too, and most of them as well as the cheeses are sourced locally. Vegetarian cheese and vegan lentils patties are available, but you have to enquire whether they are organic. Pay at the till in the middle of the restaurant when you're ready to leave. Although the place is popular among supporters of the local football club Werder Bremen, it should be noted that there's no TV screen.
Inside the Karstadt department store the
Scharfrichter sausage place offers the hottest currywurst in town. Invest the small difference of 50 cents and order an organic Bio-Bratwurst together with an
organic softdrink (Bionade), and specify the spicyness of the (not organic) sauce. The organic ice-cream from nearby Kaemena farm will calm your burning gums if necessary. Vegan sausages are available, but it's advisable to ask whether they are organic. Unfortunately they closed their original location.
More to try
Here's a list of (partially) organic restaurants and eateries I found during my research but did not have time to visit. Your impressions are appreciated!
Closed for Covid-19 pandemics
[Bremen, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, burgers, pizza, fastfood, takeaway, Indian, Italian, vegan, vegetarian, raw, covid, corona]
Saturday, 06 August 2022
Organic and eco-conscious trade in the city of Bremen is still dominated by smaller shops and supermarkets closing already between 6 and 7 pm, and between noon and 2 pm on Saturdays. Although outlets of the Alnatura and Aleco organic supermarket chains keep open until 8 pm, you might end up quite frustrated if your schedule doesn't allow for day-time-on-weekdays shopping.
Fortunately shops within Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, have quite liberal opening hours, hence unless you're longing for fresh veges or frozen food, you're safe, even on Sundays and in the evening.
A small selection of fresh fruit, dairy products and non-dairy alternatives, drinks, dry food, sweets, natural cosmetics and a full-fledged range of bread, rolls, and pastries (both, sweet and savoury) can be found at the Reformhaus Bacher health-food shop (before 2021 named "Betterlife"). Apart from the bakery booth, you have however to check for organic labels as about half the products on sale aren't organic or certified natural cosmetics.
With their natural cosmetics own brand "Alterra" Rossmann drugstores like the one you'll enter when climbing the stairs to the right after entering the central station from the Bahnhofsplatz tram and bus hub offer an alternative for the small purse. The branch keeps open 16 hours a day (14 on weekends on bank holidays) and stocks a good selection of organic dry goods (check for organic labels) and sustainable household goods.
What's unique for a German city is that there's a Sunday-open package-free convenience store:
Selfair at the Steintor.
For pre-packaged organic sausage and meat products, predominantly in the jar head for the Lebensmittel-Punkt inside the Markthalle 8 food court at Domshof. When you enter the building there's a 24x7 open vending machine at the right hand side where you can buy a lot of regional sausage specialities as well as ready-made meat stock.
You can also put orders of fresh meat at their webshop and collect your order on Fridays and Saturdays between 11 am and 6 pm from the dish counter of the food court.
The name "Lebensmittel-Punkt" is a play on words – the composed noun can mean both, "place to buy food" and "centre of vital interest".
At the organic farm of the Kaemena family in Blockland you'll find 24x7 open vending machines for local organic products. Here
you can tap raw or pasteurized milk into your own bottle, the liter for 1.20 EUR.
If you did not bring one you can buy a returnable milk bottle for the price of 2 EUR the Regiomat vending machine which also stocks jam, drinking yogurt and cheese from the farm as well as cheese, eggs, honey and sausage in the jar by organic farms in the vicinity. In addition there's a little freezer with iced lollies at 2.50 EUR the piece for which you pay into the honesty box next to it – all worth the bicycle tour on the dyke as cars need a special permission to come here. Don't forget to bring cash.
Both, the jam and jogurt glasses can be returned here for re-use (there's a separate "waste-bin" next to the vending machine), but to get back the deposit for the milk bottles you have to turn to the farm cafe during its opening hours.
In 2022 a second milk vending machine and a Regiomat found their way into the city: In front of the Friedenskirche in the Viertel you can however tap pasteurized milk only, no raw milk. As the milk has to come here by car the prize for the liter is higher than the one next to the milking parlour.
And last but not least: The Kaemena's newly (in 2022) established ice-cream cum farm shop in the Neustadt part of town keeps open on Sundays and public holidays and sells jogurt, cheese and naturally milk.
[Bremen, Blockland, organic, supermarkets, grocery, bodycare, trainstation, farms, Regiomat]
Friday, 05 August 2022
When dedicated zero waste convenience stores started to bloom in bigger cities like Munich in the covid-19 spring of 2020 Bremen already had three established package-free shops, with a fourth one that opened its door early in 2020 and plans for two more. Back then some of the shop keepers were afraid that there might be too many to survive in a city of the size of Bremen, but a year later they are all alive and kicking. Even when you run out of food on a Sunday you can grab your jars and boxes and set out for refill.
All you need for the day
My favourite is crowd-funded L'Epicerie Bio in the Neustadt neighbourhood, just across Wilhelm Kaisen bridge. Lovingly decorated in the style of an old colonial shop you'll find an abundance of food, spices, sweets and wine, body care and household items here, including fresh fruits and veges and pet food by the gram. There's no separate customers' scale, instead the friendly shop owner wil take the tax weight of your boxes and jars. As you marvel at the interior you may buy a coffee or refreshment, but there's no real cafe corner.
In 2021 they even startes to sell frozen organic food by the gram: samosas, falafel, French fries, veges, berries and more.
While L'Epicerie is as far as you get from the carrots-and-dungarees cliche of a traditional organic grocery of the 1970ies, the second package-free shop in the Neustadt looks exactly like a traditional Bremen organic cornerstore 2.0: The dusty shop window of Füllkorn, with some wilted potted plants makes it difficult for passers-by to even spot the place. Inside everything is spotlessly clean of course, and there's also a coffee and refreshment option. Unfortunately the shop was closed when I was there, but I'm sure it's friendly and welcoming, too. They have a milk tapping machine from the Kaemena farm.
The newest package-free shop in town is
Die Füllerei in Findorff which opened in February 2020. With a beautiful flower-bed in front of it you cannot miss the shop even though I couldn't make it here during their opening hours. Unlike the two shops in the Neustadt there's a vending machine for fresh milk from the Blockland. The soap bars are produced in the very neighbourhood, by Martha's Corner, and the washable cosmetic pads and bags are made by a local plastic-free fashion label, Mamoana, with its the Oceanlovers concept store in nearby Admiralstraße. Just from the looks clearly my second favourite.
The tram stop "Am Schwarzen Meer", (in)famous for a fastfood-and-beer kiosk popular among the city's enthusiastic football fans has become a destination for conscious eaters: At the end of the Steintor road you'll find both, a Sunday-open package-free convenience store and a friendly CSA farm shop.
The first one, Selfair, has by far the most liberal opening hours of all package-free supermarkets I've visited so far. It's a pleasant combination of a traditional organic cornershop, a contemporary package-free supermarket and an immigrant shop with a good selection of oriental-style bread, baklava, pickles and mezze. The latter aren't organic, nor are about 3/4 of the fresh fruit and greens. However, there's an abundance of loose-weight and pre-packaged organic food items, spices, sweets, beverages and more. There's tinned food and preserved food and dairy products in glasses, and almost all beverages come in returnable bottles. They also have a section with zero-waste household items and sustainable toiletries, and in general the shop is free from plastic foil packaging. Many of the organic veges, bread and cheeses are bio-dynamic and local, and most of the conventional food is produced in the region, with little agrochemicals.
On the Northern side of the tram tracks you'll find
a small and inviting farm shop, the
Solawi-Hofladen. Despite the name it's not
only a pick-up point for the members of the community-supported organic Sophienhof farm, but a cosy farm shop run by two bio-dynamic farms, the Sophienhof and the Lütjenhof, and an artisanal fair-trade coffee roasters', all from the greater region. Needless to say that you can have a coffee after having filled local grains and pulses from gravity bins and bought meat, eggs, cheese, veges and more.
Package-free sale of bakery items and cheeses over the counter, loose fruit and veges as well as dairy products and drinks in returnable bottles and glasses are of course the norm in all traditional organic convenience stores like the city's oldest organic grocery Kraut und Rüben ("cabbage and roots") in the Ostertor neighbourhood, the co-operative Oecotop in the Neustadt or the Kornkraft supermarket in Habenhausen with its day cafe which is part of a small local supermarket chain.
Traditional co-operatively driven convenience stores in Bremen are all open to the general public by now, and so is Abakus in Steintor founded in 1998 which in 2020 repeatedly was voted one of Germany's best organic groceries. The shop which doesn't hide its political views doesn't have a working web site, but sells loose-weight grains and cereals. When I was there again in summer 2020 there was however an information that they wouldn't order more muesli unless the demand by members of the co-operative was bound to increase.
Specialist shops for body care
Founded 20 years later in Findorff Martha’s Corner is a heaven for body care addicts – which since 2022 is located in Walle.
Don't be mistaken, the owner and mastermind isn't Martha, but Claudia, offering hand-made natural soaps, solid shampoos, deodorants, body and lip butters and more, made here on premise. Bring back the deodorant and cream jars for refill and keep in mind that the shop is closed on production days.
During the nice season Der Fährmann Antony ("Antony the ferryman") sells hand-made natural shea and cocoa butter from Ghana on a mobile booth on the Kaemena farm in Blockland. Come with your own jar, and he will happily fill it for you. The opening hours below should however be taken with a grain of salt – when the weather is too cloudy or even rainy Anthony may decide that the effort of his bicycle tour out into the Blockland wouldn't match his sales expectation. In summer 2022 there were also shortcomings as deliveries from Ghana took weeks longer than usual, and during our stay in August 2022 we met him not before 4 pm.
Out of Bremen
If you take a bicycle tour to Lilienthal (which – despite the fact that the Bremen tram no. 4 ends there –
isn't a part of Bremen, but a municipality in the adjacent state of Lower Saxony) you have even more options – check out the Lilienthal post.
[Bremen, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, bodycare, gifts, butcher, fashion, solawi, CSA]