Saturday, 03 April 2021
Organic supermarkets may introduce a larger audience to sustainable organic produce and thus spare the environment, but do not necessarily help to reduce the amount of one-way packaging, save plastics. As a conscious consumer you will without doubt prefer non-prepackaged fruit and veges, available from all organic groceries, supermarkets and market boothes, and hand your bag over the bakery counter, making it verbally clear that you do not need a paper bag, to avoid paper waste when buying bread and rolls.
You're also safe if you restrict your shopping of dairy products, juices and soft drinks to returnable glass bottles. Some organic shops (such as Vollcorner) offer a small selection of wine in deposit bottles.
Starting in 2017 the more dedicated organic supermarket chains have been introducing measures to reduce packaging and allow customers to bring their own containers to fill with selected goods.
Unless stated otherwise all shops mentioned in this post will help you out with clean and empty reusable glass jars or organic cotton bags which you -- depending on the shop -- can either buy or lend if you forgot to bring your own.
Package-free food and household necessities
Four years ago, on February 20th, 2016 the city's first crowd-funded vegetarian zero-waste supermarket Ohne ("without") opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Maxvorstadt. Pleasantly furnished with wooden benches and self-made dispensers this modern version of a generously spaced mom-and-pop store
gives you a pleasant vacation from brands and logos.
It is offering bread, rolls and sweet pastries
from a local artisanal bakery, dairy products and vegan alternatives in returnable bottles, a small selection of fresh fruit and greens, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, locally distilled gin, vodka and bitter, oil, toothpaste tablets and assorted solid shampoos and soap bars. Most sweets, toothpaste tablets, protein powder, matcha and other expensive products the staff will fill into your containers at the till.
There are also refill stations for washing detergents, cleansers and liquid hair and body washes, and you can shop from an ever increasing range of household and bodycare products (including environment-friendly condoms which are the only items in shop prepackaged in non-reusable wrapping). Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers.
Your shopping starts by measuring the weight of your glasses, boxes and bags on the scales next to the entrance door. Now you can fill them from the dispensers and finally pay by net weight. During the covid-19 restrictions you are also asked to wash your hands when entering the shop.
When the shop is crowded waiting time at the till is a little longer than you might expect, but take your time and have a coffee and home-made cake in the small cafe corner. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am.
A second branch opened January 23, 2019 in the neighbourhood of Haidhausen, a few steps from Rosenheimer Platz S-Bahn station. This shop is also equipped with a proper espresso machine, and offers snacks -- you can have a sandwich, a slice of cake or a buttered pretzl. However, neither lunch nor fresh fruit and veges are available in this clean and pleasantly light shop.
If you prefer a crammed and cosy corner shop where the shop keepers will fill the jars and boxes for you pay a visit to the Mutternaturladen in Harlaching, next to the Biowelt convenience store.
What you can buy here: a small selection of predominantly regional fruits and veges, all types of dry food, herbs and spices, everything you need to bake and cook vegetarian food, coffee, tea, drinks, sweets, antipasti and dairy products, the full set household chemicals and body care products, everything arranged with love in a tiny space and topped with a little chit-chat. You may also come here for a cup of coffee or tea or -- Tuesday through Friday -- for lunch. Every Monday students get 10 percent off on all loose-weight items.
With Westend Pur a neighbourhood grocery in the Westend
opened as a franchise partner of Mutter-Natur-Laden which means you will be served most of the loose weight products, with a chit-chat if you wish, just like in the old days. If you are short of time order in advance, and come to fetch your pre-filled shopping bag. Apart from (dry) food there's also a huge selection of plastic-free household and body care items, including solid and liquid household chemicals. All products are selected to be
organic, sustainable, plastic-free, with short delivery chains, but there are no fresh fruit and veges.
The entrance points towards Bergmannstraße.
The pandemic spring and summer of 2020 saw a blossoming of zero-waste groceries in the South and West of town: Approximately at the same time as the Westend got its neighbourhood shop, Servus Resi opened in Obersendling right before the lockdown in March 2020, in a non-descript middle of no-where near the Siemenswerke former industrial area. But don't let you fool from the uninviting environment at a noisy car road -- what you'll find here is a busy neighbourhood gem nicely furnished in light wood, with a superb selection of dried herbs and spices aside the usual dry food, and a nicely arranged selection of household items. The greengrocery section is rather limited -- local organic apples and potatoes in late autumn 2020 --, and there are no dairy or other food requiring cooling, but the shop offers both, liquid body care products and household chemicals from refill stations. Everything is supervised by the friendly shop-owner, Chrissy (not Resi) herself, and if you wish to get in touch with people from the neighbourhood take the burden to come here even from other parts of town.
In Laim Nebenan unverpackt ("package-free next door") followed in summer 2020. The latter is organised as a co-operative (though the location next to a co-operative bank is purely accidental) and sports a
small neighbourhood coffee place. They offer a slightly bigger selection of dry food than the Ohne shops, fresh fruit and veges, but less dried herbs and spices and no spirits. You can however buy wine and their selction of condiments and preserves in one-way glasses have the effect that you can do all the regular daily shopping here in one place if you don't come with more advanced expectations.
Half a year earlier, in January, 2020 another
co-operative, Deine Alternative ("your alternative") in Zorneding, opened on the premises of the former Raiffeisen co-operative bank, just a few steps from the urban train station.
When you get inside you will however immediately forget about its past as a bank, the shop is carefully and pleasantly decorated, with wooden furniture and equipped with a proper Italian coffee machine for a break in between. Most of the often local produce sold here is organically certified or at minimum sustainably produced, though it would be nice if conventional loose-weight products were clearly marked. In addition to the gravity bins and containers with dry food there's a decent selection of dried herbs and spices, sweets, bread, some confectionery, a small selection of fresh organic greens and veges, cheese and milk from the Nirschlhof organic farm (but interestingly enough no whole-meal flour or oils, vinegars or spirits by the litre). In a separate room you can buy toiletries, household chemicals and items supporting a zero-waste lifestyle. Everyone is welcome, but members of the co-operative pay less.
If you live in the municipality of Zorneding you can pre-order a daily changing lunch dish to take home on weekdays or a covid-19 emergency food box that will be delivered home for those in quarantine.
In opposite direction, at the Western end of the Munich's S-Bahn (line S8) urban train network Evis ab ins Glas ("Evi's off-into-the-jar") opposite the town hall of the municipality of Gilching opened 27th July, 2020, sporting a lot of package-free artisanally produced food, natural body care and household items, predominantly delivered by small-scale farmers and manufacturers in the greater Starnberg area. If you have wine corks bring them along for upcycling by a Rosenheim-based manufacturer of shoes. The shop is closed on Wednesdays.
South-South-West of Munich, the city of Wolfratshausen (the endpoint of the S7 urban train) likewise sports a package-free shop centrally located at the Obermarkt market place: Ohnverpackt, another zero-waste shop opening within the corona lockdown in the spring of 2020,
is even certified organic. The few conventional products of regional origin are clearly marked as an exception. It does not only offer the usual dry food and household chemicals, but also a good selection of cheese and antipasti. What you won't find are fresh fruits and veges, meat and sausages.
There's a small day cafe, unfortunately all closed on Mondays.
In March 2019 a tiny neighbourhood shop specializing in natural home cleaning opened in the Glockenbach neighbourhood: At Abgefüllt & unverpackt ("bottled and unpacked") the singer of the Munich-based band "Cat Sun Flower" warmly welcomes customers and passers-by and helps to (re)fill empty bottles with organic liquid household detergents. At the time of writing this shop was the only one in Munich selling washing powder by weight. In addition there are eco-friendly dishwasher tabs, body and hair soaps, fairly traded natural facecream in returnable glasses, towels, as well as upcycled and fairly traded bags and toiletry accessories.
While many of these owner-run shops report to have gotten a lift by the covid-19 pandemics the zero-waste pioneer in town, Naturlieferant, usually referred to as Plastikfreie Zone, and renamed to Der plastikfreie Laden closed its pleasant intimate shop in Haidhausen by the end of February 2021. The shop (which started as Germany's second package-free grocery) with a focus on sustainable household items, ranging from tooth brushes and toilet paper to glasses, lunch boxes and jute strings is however still there as a web shop.
Supermarket chains to follow
In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner
supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill their customers' jars and boxes with
cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake. The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, while independent convenience stores often have done so anyway. So take appropriate containers with you when you go out to shop for food or ask
the staff to fill your order into returnable glass jars (Vollcorner, Lebascha, ...) or stainless steel containers (Basic). As during the corona pandemic most shops are no longer allowed to fill customer-provided containers make sure to order deposit containers as there's still no nudging from the shops' side.
To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box (or ask for the deposit container) before placing your order at the sales counter and tell the staff to tape the receipt to it. Otherwise you may end up not sparing any waste: In the beginning the staff at the Basic butcher's disk would use the sheet of plastic-covered paper they'd usually wrap the purchase with to hand it over to you, along with the receipt taped onto the paper bag they otherwise would have used as outer packaging. In the mean time they got used to the procedure but were ordered to decline customer requests to buy meat this way. Since they started to provide stainless steel boxes for a deposit of 7 EUR there's however no excuse for one-way packaging here anymore. Artisanal organic butcher's shops will also fill meat into boxes you provide (though not necessarily during covid-19 measures). The Herrmannsdorfer groceries (e.g. the one at Max-Weber-Platz) reward you with a 4 cents discount per saved packaging.
All Basic supermarkets have installed gravity bin dispensers by now which reliably offer a selection of pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, and grains, but the number of goods may vary from basic to covering most of your store cupboard except for dried herbs and spices, coffee and tea.
To buy these dry goods measure the tax weight of your containers before filling them. The scales next to the gravity bins will print out a receipt which you must hand in at the cash desk for tax weight detraction.
Some branches may still follow the scheme formerly employed at the one near Isartor where you were expected to fill provided scaled measuring jugs from the dry-goods dispensers, pay, and refill the content into the packaging you brought along (which was quite tricky as funnels were not provided). In this case
you were not allowed to use your own containers for loose-weight dried fruit from the cardbox displays in the green-grocery section.
Some Basic branches like the Basic Bogenhausen also offer freshly ground nut butt:w
In the past the latter also had a refill station for frying and salad oils, shampoo and shower gel as well as tea and coffee dispensers but unfortunately no longer.
The Alnatura chain takes a different approach and, in 2020 has been continously increasing the range of products in returnable jars and bottles - among others fairly traded nut butters, a number of dry products and even ketchup.
The Basic supermarkets in Munich (and no longer only the ones selling toiletries and household chemicals like the Neuhausen and the Bogenhausen branches) are also equipped with dispensers for detergents of the eco-friendly Sodasan brand. To refill here you must either come with an empty original bottle or buy one the first time. Your purchase will be weighted at the checkout and the weight of the original bottle will be detracted. When I asked the staff why I no longer was able to use a blank bottle they explained to me that a label with correct chemical declaration was required by law.
Prior to April 2019 you
could take one of the empty bottles from the shelf and scan its label before tapping the standard volumes the choosen detergent was sold by to your own bottle, and I cannot say whether Basic markets in other cities still run the dispensers in this mode.
For refilling fresh milk the Vollcorner supermarket near Theresienwiese has a vending machine which (as of November 2019) unfortunately is out of order as the local farm can no longer deliver milk for family reasons. The shop is working on a replacement and is trying to find a new local farm to step in as soon as possible.
This huge Vollcorner branch also has a butcher's counter and a lunch cafe.
And before I forget to mention it: All Vollcorner supermarkets stock package-free toiletpaper.
By the end of 2020 a number of conventional supermarket chains had introduced refill stations for dry food, too, but since you still have to do a lot of careful reading in front of the shelves to shop climate-friendly products, I won't mention them here, with one exception: the huge Tegut branch that opened in the Elisenhof shopping centre next to the main train station
in December 2020. This supermarket chain really gives their customers a choice -- all organic products are easily to recognise thanks to a light-green label on the shelves, and there's a great number of them in all product categories. Given the sheer number of products on sale the impressive refill rack at the left-hand side of the entrance aisle comprises only a negligible fraction of total sales, but it's a good start, and the best: All products in the gravity bins are organic, and they have the biggest selection of package-free organic chocolate-covered sweets I've come across so far. There are grains, cereals, nuts, dried fruit, legumes and sweets, but no flour and surprisingly almost no pasta.
Although the supermarket has its entrance next to the Sunday-open (and if you ask me generally more pleasant) organic supermarket Biokultur in the Hauptbahnhof basement Tegut is closed on Sundays and public holidays as well as in the evening. When you have at minimum half an hour to change trains you will however reach to refill some of your dry food containers as long as you know how it works: Put your box onto the scales and choose "Tara-Bon". This will print a label. Fill the box and remember the product id on the lower end of the gravity bin. Put the filled box back on the scales and press the second "Bon" button beneath the "Tara-Bon" button. Now you will be asked to type in the product id. Scan the bar code on the previously printed label with the hand scanner, and there you go: A receipt with a price tag will be printed for you. Seal your box with this second label and hurry up to the cash counter.
In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery offers to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, jelly gums and liquorice -- only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes you bring along. Ask for a deposit box (1 or 3 EUR according to size) in case you forgot to bring your own, and make sure to return it thoroughly cleaned. When buying eggs don't forget your own container as there will be a small surplus for a cardboard one filled on the counter.
For home-made dried fruit stroll a few more steps down the street and step by Haidhauser Oase.
Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing and at the Biochicco supermarket in the Au near Mariahilf-Platz. At the latter you can only refill original bottles of the Sonett label.
In Harlaching, the
independent Biowelt supermarket has a small zero-waste corner with dispensers for dry food, a good selection of loose-weight dried fruit and a dairy and butchers' counter where you can hand over your containers.
Once, sometimes twice a week farmers' markets are installed in many Munich neighbourhoods. Loose fruits and veges prevail here, and boothes selling organic produce (watch carefully for "bio" and "demeter" logos) will usually fill bread, cakes and pastries, antipasti, meat and dairy products into the containers you present. Notably at the boothes of the Tagwerk co-operative and the Hofbäckerei Steingraber you may be surprised to see that you're not the only one coming with her own boxes and jars. On Saturday mornings you can find them next to the West-facing entry of Mariahilf church, in the neighbourhood of Au where all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, are organic. If you feel adventurous on Thursday afternoons take the urban train S7 in direction Aying/Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn/Kreuzstraße (or a bike ride) to the suburb of Neubiberg and pay a visit to the communal organic market on the pleasant premises of the Umweltgarten eco park, a true oasis within ugly suburbanity, with a small zoo, popular not only among kids. On Thursdays there's also an all-day market at Rotkreuzplatz. As on Mariahilfsplatz about half the boothes here are organic, though scattered all over the market area, with a cluster in direction Nymphenburger Straße.
Needless to say that the organic boothes on the famous Viktualienmarkt in the Munich city will happily support you when you make it clear that you want to use your own bags and containers. And the spring of 2021 did not only see the opening of an organic bakery in one of the solid market stalls in the northern part of the market, but also a tiny organic food shop for organic dry food grown and produced in the nearby Chiemgau region:
Satt und gut ("full and good") sells staple foods like grains, flour, eggs, honey and oil but also cookies, both pre-packaged and loose weight, partially from the smallest gravity bins I've seen so far. Note that this shop, unlike the market itself, is closed on Mondays
In Zorneding a small farmers' market is being held every Friday on the premises of the Biohof Lenz organic farm. Here you can buy local organic meat and meat products, cheese, bread, veges, and occasionally honey and bee products, wines and spirits. Although most stalls are organic there are a few exceptions offering conventionally produced specialities. The Lenz family's own farm shop keeps open at the same time and on Saturdays, but for buying their exceptionally good meat you should subscribe to their newsletter and order beforehand according to availability (you should be fast to answer). Unfortunately all the Lenz meat and sausages are vacuumized in plastic.
At the Western edge of town, in Pasing the organic market garden of Bio-Gärtnerei Kamlah has a farm shop open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. You can not only buy salads and vegetables grown here but also organic seedlings for your balcony or garden patch. The farm has also a market stall at the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt which keeps open all days except Sunday offering a huge selections of organic fruit and veges, but no seedlings.
Artisanal bakeries and butchers
Meat lovers will be happy to learn that Munich, the home of Weißwurst sausages and Leberkäse, still has an independent family-run organic butcher's shop: The Biometzgerei Pichler in Haidhausen does not only offer these Munich specialities to buy home or to eat on the spot but will happily fill your boxes with all kinds of meat cuts, sausages, cured and processed meat (both, German and Italian style), including tongues, ox tails, offal and other low-graded parts of the slaughtered animals, allowing you to follow the nose-to-tail principle. They also have a proper cheese counter and offer lunch on weekdays. If you are in the Maxvorstadt, the Pichler family also runs the meat counter within the Landmann's supermarket which offers lunch items to take away and often has pickled herrings and other traditional German fish preserves. However, during the covid-19 lockdown in winter 2020/21 the shop is refusing to fill purchases into customer boxes.
At the Munich branch of the Dachau-based family-run organic bakery Gürtner opposite the Lebascha grocery mentioned above in Haidhausen the staff is also used to fill cakes, rolls and bread into boxes or bags handed over the counter. They mill the flour slowly using a Zentrofan wholefood mill resulting in wholemeal croissants tasting fresher and almost as light as those baked with white flour. If you come here for an organic coffee or lunch break don't expect wonders from the automatic coffee machine and insist on using your mug if you order coffee to take along. For lunch the bakery offers readily prepared sandwiches or "Butterbrezn" (buttered pretzl). There's another Gürtner branch on the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt near the Pasing train station.
With roots in Munich, and since 2020 back baking in town, the Sunday-open shops of Fritz Mühlenbäckerei are not generally zero-waste, but their bread, cakes, and rolls will be filled in the bags and boxes you provide, even with restrictive Covid-19 hygienic measures in place. Since spring 2021 there has also been a market booth in the Northern part of Viktualienmarkt, next to Heilig Geist church which is closed on sundays, though. If you come here for a coffee to take away, don't forget to order a recup deposit mug or bring your own.
Another artisanal bakery that happily supports your efforts to reduce waste is the Brotraum in Schwabing, conveniently located near Münchner Freiheit.
Not very far away, in Türkenstraße you'll find another source of luxurious artisanal organic bread -- the bakery of Julius Brantner. Make sure to come in time -- especially on a Saturday you may find the shop closed after the last bread was sold.
A short walk from Sendlinger Tor, within the hospital area, you'll find Bio Backs, an organic bakery store where you also can get organic coffee drinks, tea, hot chocolate and snacks. Unfortunately the Asian lunch served there is not based on organic ingredients -- for the home-made snacks only the butter, the flour used in savory quiches, sugar, milk, soy drink and vegetable broth are promised to be organic. Pro-actively insist on your own bags and containers when you buy to take with you. Mind you that the shop closes quite early in the afternoon.
Coffee and food to take away
At Basic self-service cafes, the Ohne supermarkets, Siggis coffee bar and restaurant and an increasing number of other coffee places you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme.
Some like the Neulinger bakeries and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a small discount for sparing the environment.
Most of the eateries reviewed here will fill your food into the boxes you provide for take-away as long as you make this clear before they start their usual routine which still means one-way packaging. Sushi to take away is available from Sushiya, and they will happily accept your bento boxes with your order.
Closed (online only)
[Munich, Neubiberg, Gilching, Wolfratshausen, Zorneding, Au, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Laim, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, Westend, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, bakeries, butcher, bodycare, household, sushi, covid, corona]
Monday, 29 March 2021
Organic supermarkets can be found on almost every second street corner in Munich but density varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.
In addition to a local organic supermarket chain, Vollcorner (consisting of 19 markets in Munich and around), Munich hosts several branches of Germany's biggest organic chains Alnatura (14 markets in Munich and surroundings) and Denn's (10 markets in the greater Munich area, 7 within the city boundaries). In addition Munich is the home of the Basic supermarket chain with 11 markets -- early in 2021 this chain restricted its activities to South Germany and Austria and sold all other nation-wide branches. Moreover you will find a branch of a small regional chain, Landmann's (including an artisanal butcher's counter run by the Biometzgerei Pichler), many small independent supermarkets, often equipped with a Biomarkt sign, and even some homely, surviving corner shops.
During the past few years, both, Basic and Vollcorner, have made efforts to support zero-waste shopping. If you want to be sure not to (indirectly) support huge, globally operating multinational concerns you're safe when shopping at Vollcorner which consistently delists brands when sold to such companies. So you will find neither Logocos brands (Logona, Lenz, Sante, Heliotrop, Fitne) anymore since the company was bought by L'Oreal (which is partially owned by Nestle), nor Pukka tea (Unilever). Wine-lovers may also collect the corks made from natural cork and return them in for recycling at any Vollcorner shop.
On weekdays all chains and most other supermarkets keep open between 9 am and 8 pm, Vollcorner and Basic markets open at 8 am (later during the current covid-19 pandemic, Saturday opening hours vary, the big retailers and Vollcorner close at 8 pm. All groceries except
the Biokultur supermarket in the basement of the central train station are closed on Sundays.
Apart from these full range retailers there is a small local food only chain, not offering any toiletries or detergents: Herrmannsdorfer specialises in meat products, bakery items and beer produced in the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten in Glonn, somewhat outside Munich. The shops close quite early, but if you come during daytime they stock sufficient dry food, dairy products, fruits, veges, sweets and more to spare you the trip to a second shop. Unlike the Basic chain Herrmannsdorfer allows you to buy meat in your own containers.
In 2015 a branch of the hyped Italian Eataly delicatessen chain opened within the architectonically interesting glass and iron construction of Schrannenhalle near Viktualienmarkt. It's true, they offer a good range of organic products, and organic food items are labelled as such on the shelves, but it's nevertheless a disappointing experience: Almost no fresh organic fruit and veges (not even the fresh herbs are organic), only pre-packaged organic meat (forget about the well-assorted meat counter), and the organic wines and spirits in the basement are not marked "bio" on the shelves, so it's very hard to find them.
If you want to support the local economy, both Vollcorner, Munich-based Basic and Herrmannsdorfer shops are all fine, but you may prefer to support independent markets where the owners are actually running the stores and create a homely and personal atmosphere. Often you will find products not on sale by the big chains.
When traditional Grüner Markt chain closed down end of September 2014, their main house in the Altperlach neighbourhood made an exception. Housed in a vault it has a pleasant italophilic, somewhat venerable atmosphere, definitely worth a visit. The perfect surroundings when shopping for delicatessen, and a must-go during the Christmas season. It's now dubbed Mohrhof Perlach.
The other big independent is Schmatz ("smack") in the Glockenbach neighbourhood. Step by if only for the lovely decoration of their bodycare section. Kids are invited to play in an old-fashioned corner shop, and selected items are lovingly set on display. It's the only organic supermarket playing music in the background. At the end of 2018 they issued a ban on fresh herbs in plastics packing.
For the pittoresque yet upmarket farmshop feeling in the city aim for Stemmerhof on top of the Sendlinger Berg. Once upon a time a wealthy village farm opposite the village church the nicely restored houses are now the home of an organic supermarket (as well as an organic fashion and toy store for smaller children dubbed Natur und Kind). Their butcher's cum delicatessen disk will happily sell lunch snacks to eat on the spot or to take-away. The same enterprise also runs a second branch in the suburb of Grünwald, just a street crossing opposite of Alter Wirt hotel and restaurant.
The former Erdgarten supermarket a ten-minutes walk away from Pasing train station (or two minutes from Pasing Marienplatz square) reopened as a branch of the local Vollcorner chain September, 2019 and continues to serve organic and vegetarian wholefood lunch as well as coffee and cake. They also have a nicely decorated bodycare section. Whether they'll continue to serve knitters with a fine selection of organic wool I am not aware of.
If you by chance happen to strand near the Klinikum Harlaching hospital, don't dispair: two tramstops in North-Eastern direction on the left side (just follow the tram line along Grünwalder Str.) you'll find Biowelt, a crammed independent organic supermarket with a superb selection of both, bodycare and frozen convenience products: All you need if visiting a friend or relative in the hospital in urgent need of a proper meal. Starting with lunch time they offer a helping of organic soup and a small selection of snacks. You may ask for a sandwich made on the spot. The shop also has a zero waste corner with dispensers for legumes and a small selection of other dry food as well as an assortment of dried fruit. Make sure to step by check-out to weigh your containers before you fill them.
Attending a conference at one of the huge Bogenhausen hotels near Effnerplatz? Your lunch break should be sufficient to follow Bülowstraße in Western direction to Herkomerplatz. Here you'll find not only a Herrmannsdorfer butcher's shop cum grocery cum eatery and the Hofpfisterei bakery branch next to it, but also a pleasant family-owned organic supermarket dubbed Biovolet. The Riemensberger family placed some bar tables in the entrance area to have a snack, and there is a second branch in Eching (formerly a Grüner Markt branch). Pay with your EC (VPay) debit card, and they donate a few cent to the BioBoden co-operative which buys farm land in order to lease it to organic farmers. On Thursdays you will receive a 10 percent discount if your shopping cart is worth more than 50 euros.
A short walk from the shores of the river Isar near the Southern end of the island housing the Deutsches Museum into the neighbourhood of Au you will find Biochicco cafe and convenience store. Formerly dubbed Auryn it was one of the first organic supermarkets in town which took over the premises of a conventional one. The shopping area has diminished since, and so has the superstore feeling in favour of a personal, homely atmosphere. In 2016 a young team took over from the previous shopkeeper and has put a lot of effort into refurbishing the then somewhat worn location. They opened a vegan snack bar cum cafe facing Ohlmüllerstraße where you can sit down for an organic breakfast (from 8 till 12), lunch or coffee and home-made cake. (Note that there's no lunch in August, but there's always free wifi.) The shop was one of the first ones to print its receipts on paper not containing bisphenol A plasticiser, and if you forgot to bring your own bag you may buy a locally sewn one made from leftover fabrics.
Crossing Ohlmüllerstraße and continuing south along Entenbachstraße you will bump into Entenbach Naturkost, an organic convenience store of old which is now driven by a young family. The location is clean and spacious, and at the same time preserves the homely atmosphere of small owner-run organic corner stores.
In the neighbourhood of Schwabing one of the oldest organic groceries in town is located, these days rather boringly dubbed Echt Bio Markt which is the brand of a network of small-scale independent organic supermarkets. The pleasant, traditional shop in Tengstraße offers refill for organic household detergents.
Another cosy neighbourhood with many small-scale shops and interesting food places is the Westend at the Western side of Theresienwiese (in)famous as the Oktoberfest location. Right at the border to the Schwanthalerhöhe neighbourhood, at the North-Eastern corner of the park at Georg-Freundorfer-Platz another bunch of young people is running a neighbourhood grocery dubbed Nicos Naturkost. It's just a friendly, clean and unspectactular shop with a superb selection of teas and tisanes of two small-scale organic brands usually not to be found in Munich organic supermarkets. If you stay in the vicinity for a longer period of time: They have a whiteboard where regular customers can co-ordinate orders of products which the shop usually does not stock.
If you happen to take the S7 urban train in southern direction to the municipality of Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn take the time to visit Roberts Bio-Genussmarkt on the premises of a former farmyard. The spacious, pleasantly refurbished and nicely decorated barn with its dark wooden shelfs makes it easy to spend some time on a coffee and cake in the included cafe area. When the weather is nice sun-shaded outdoor seating is provided. The former village of Höhenkirchen is part of the Mangfall bicycle route from Munich to Rosenheim, and this is a pleasant place for a break.
By 2016 the first wrapping free supermarket made it into town: Check the zero-waste post for reviews. That post also has details on the zero-waste efforts of both, Vollcorner and Basic supermarkets.
Closed for covid-19 pandemic
The following organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:
- Alnatura Innenstadt, Sonnenstr. 23 (to re-open after reconstruction work)
- Biomarkt CM, Schlüsselbergstr. 13 (Berg am Laim)
- Denn's w/in Hofstatt mall, Sendlinger Str. 12a, basement (city centre)
- Die Bio-Bäuerin, Peter-Wolfram-Str. 31 (Gronsdorf)
- Johannisgarten Naturkost, Johannisplatz 21 (Haidhausen)
- Gut zum Leben, Motorama Ladenstadt, Rosenheimer Str. 30-32 (Haidhausen)
- Tagwerk-Bioladen Hofgut Riem, Isarlandstr. 1 (Riem)
- Veganz, Baldestr. 21 corner Auenstr., including self-service cafe Goodies
- Radix, Thalkirchner Str. 88 (Isarvorstadt)
[Munich, Au, Bogenhausen, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Maxvorstadt, Schwabing, Pasing, Hoehenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn, Mangfallradweg, Mangfall_cycle_route, organic, supermarkets, grocery, lunch, snacks, deli, Italian, covid, corona]
Monday, 11 January 2021
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.
To my knowledge the only one left by the end of 2020 and my absolute favourite is the newly restored Cafe Reichshof in Haidhausen, covered in detail in my ice-cream post.
Since Iunu stopped serving Turkish mocca the only place offering responsibly sourced oriental-style coffee I am aware of is located in Haidhausen's Breisacher Straße: Saladins Souk has however rather irrational opening hours, so better come here when you are in the vicinity anyway. If it is closed you may move next door to Erbils vegan Turkish eatery.
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. There's also a newer and more standard branch in Munich's Westend -- an important destination for all Oktoberfest visitors.
However, due to covid-19 hygienic restrictions the small bar in the Glockenbach neighbourhood recently has mutated to a sales shop for Emilo coffee, also offering coffee drinks in one-way paper cups. Not really the way to enjoy this coffee, but decide for yourself whether a flat white in solidarity is worth the sin against the environment.
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.
When the restaurants and bistros in the Gasteig cultural center went bankrupt during the covid-19 pandemic 2020 catering here became more sustainable: The mobile coffee bar Contains Coffee which was installed as a replacement first next to the Erich Schulze fountain, now within the main entrance area of Celibidache forum has a focus on sustainability. On weekdays it serves speciality coffee roasted by local, often Munich-based small-scale coffee roasters. This coffee is not necessarily certified, neither with respect to fair-trade nor organic guidelines, but the milk, sugar, tea and soft-drinks as well as most of the small snacks are all certified organic. Unfortunately the coffee is served in one-way cups.
(Almost) fully organic
If all you want is a place where you do not have to fine-read the menu to pick out the organic items your options are limited to the afore mentioned Café Reichshof, the Iss dich glücklich eatery nearby (both places are located near tram stop "Wörthstraße") -- and to Café Josefina in the legendary neighbourhood of Schwabing with its bohemian past, a few steps from tube stop Josephsplatz.
A cosy day cafe serving Italian-style coffee drinks made with real milk or a number of plant-based alternatives it's not only worth a coffee but also a lunch break. Although nearly all ingredients are organic there are a few exceptions when it comes to the cold cuts used in Italian-style sandwiches. As early as half past seven the place starts serving both, vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore breakfast on weekdays, and since it is quite small it's advisable to reserve a table if you plan to step by on a weekend.
For a fully organic breakfast or coffee near Münchner Freiheit head for the small artisanal (and fully organic) Brotraum bakery happily catering for early birds. The breakfast menu is simple -- but you can order additional items like eggs and cream cheese on top or ask for a freshly prepared sandwich or roll of your choice. Don't forget to bring your own bags and containers when you come here to buy bread, rolls or lunch items for take away -- the owner is inclined to support your zero waste efforts.
Another 100 percent organic bakery with a decent coffee bar is located just a fews steps away from the Pinakotheken museums. But Echt jetzt is not just a cosy place in the humming university neighbourhood, it's also Munich's only artisanal
gluten-free bakery offering not only bread and rolls, but also cakes, cookies and sweet buns.
In Neuhausen, about half a kilometre from Rotkreuzplatz a gorgeous health-food eatery cum cafe gROOSartig (a play on the word "gorgeous" and the name of the owner) opened in 2020, offering breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks based on regional, usually organic, often fairly-traded ingredients. Although the menu is planned with a focus on healthy food the demand for sweets and cakes has resulted in an increasing range on cakes and tarts.
The place also has a small shop offering plastic-free artisanal household items.
Shabby chic and homely places
A small cafe of old, run as a social enterprise just a five minutes walk away from Rosenheimer Platz, Cafe Plaisir moved 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.
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.
A few steps away, directly located at Orleansplatz cafe Iunu is a perfect place to meet a friend for a chat or to have a recreational coffee break including a chat with the friendly owner. Some of the coffee, the milk, the tea and a few staples used in the daily changing vegetarian and ayurvedic-inspired lunch set menu like agave syrup, rice and vegetable yogurt alternatives are organic, but unfortunately usually not the veges. The place was my joker for the best Turkish mocca in town, but unfortunately it is no longer being served due to marginal demand. With a small but carefully chosen (though not necessarily organic) range of delicatessen Iunu will also save you when in need for an unplanned last minute gift. On Saturdays the cafe is often unexpectedly closed due to arrangements, so check in advance.
Another cosy living room dubbed Zimtzicke is tucked away in comparatively quiet Elsässer Straße, only 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, salads and - of course -- cake 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.
A crowded neighbourhood coffee bar in Obergiesing, Shotgun Sister allows you to meet people from the former working class borough which has been popular among both, students and families alike. All food including the cakes are home-made, with organic fruit and veges, often from local biodynamic agriculture. The cakes are fully organic. If you cannot spot the place at once watch out for the branch of the organic Hofpfisterei bakery chain which is located next to it, a five minutes walk from Giesing station. If you like splash out a coffee on an unknown -- as the sister participates in the Hey campaign for fellow human beings in need. Needless to say that vegan and gluten-free options are readily available. During covid-19 restrictions order at the bar and wait to be served -- which however took a long time the Saturday I was there.
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.
Another, for my likings cosier place to have a vegan latte is Siggis which I reviewed here.
Self-service coffee house and deli bars
For the no-frills coffee with WLAN or on the go a number of nation-wide operating self-service coffee house chains serve Italian and American-style organic coffee often with organic milk and some more organic items like tea, soft drinks or fruit and nut bars. The market in Munich is quite volatile, of some franchises like the San Francisco Coffee Company and Black Bean their respective websites list closed branches as operating.
The same applies to the once booming MyMuesli chain, a German web order shop for organic cereals and porridges with offline branches throughout the German-speaking countries.
On the Eastern edge of Viktualienmarkt, a few steps from Marienplatz you'll find their flagship store which includes a decent coffee bar. 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.
My favourite in this category is a small organically certified Munich-based chain: Deli Star brings the spirit of New York-style deli and coffee bars to town, but with a strong focus on the environment: No plastics here, all take away stews and salads come in returnable glass jars, and the coffee on the go in a Recup deposit cup if you don't bring your own. Not every ingredient in their bagels, sandwiches, stews and salads is organic, but all regular organic items are clearly marked BIO on the menu: the cakes (though not the muffins and brownies), most meat products, yogurt, Lemonaid and Adelholzener fruit and soft drinks. Other ingredients like veges and cheese may or may not be organic. The coffee isn't organic, but the milk comes in huge reusable containers from a local organic farm. In general they use a lot of products grown and produced in the region and/or from small-scale manufacturers. Both branches are located in students' hotspots in Maxvorstadt: near the University and at the entrance to the Englischer Garten park.
Mingle with the working crowd
Campus canteens and coffee bars frequented by those working nearby are excellent places to get in contact with locals -- with the disadvantage of opening hours following office hours.
On the eastern side of the railway tracks of Ostbahnhof train station, a few minutes north of the newly developed Werksviertel you'll find day cafe Louka, a friendly no-frills place mainly catering for the office workers and craftspersons working nearby. What you get here:
coffee, home-made cakes and sandwiches, a
daily changing soup and main course, often vegetarian.
If you want to taste simple German everyday standards like Kässpätzle and Schupfnudeln, or the Russischer Zupfkuchen ("Russian pluck cake") cheesecake, this is the place. Not everything is organic here, but both, the coffee, the milk and the plant-based drinks, the eggs, often the veges and the meat are.
Steinhausen is most certainly not a neighbourhood you will have on your travel agenda, but if you come to the Berg am Laim urban train, bus and tram stop the coffee bar on the ground flour of the Süddeutsche Zeitung publishing house is nearby and open to the public. It offers organic and fairly traded coffee and organic lemonades at very competitive prices. Milk, soy and oat drinks are occassionally organic, but better check for the "bio" keyword on the packs as conventional industrial milk still prevails. The sweet and savoury snacks are of unknown provenance so you may prefer to ask. Salads and desserts are being sold in retour jars at a deposit.
If you wish to mingle with journalists, developers, printers and all those involved in the production of Germany’s most respected daily newspaper this is the place despite the surroundings.
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). While covid-19 restrictions are in place you're kindly asked to book a table in advance.
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.
More to try
Still on my research list is Mr. Ben in Maxvorstadt – this coffee place in the university quarter serves beans artisanally roasted in the neighbourhood of Giesing, but since I haven't been here myself yet I cannot say whether they use organically certified ones (which they should given the 1.80 EUR for a cup of espresso) nor whether the milk and oat milk are organic.
There's a small selection of Italian-style sandwiches and cakes of which my research so far can confirm that the croissants come from an organic bakery a longer bicycle ride out of town.
Closed for covid-19 pandemic
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
- Emilo am Odeonsplatz, Odeonspl. 14
- Emmi's Kitchen, Rosenheimer Str. 67 (vegetarian cafe cum eatery)
Fritz Brotbar, Nymphenburger Str. 154 (bakery cum cafe)
Fritz Mühlenbäckerei, Müllerstr. 46 (cafe cum eatery, re-opened in 2020 as bread bar w/ show bakery)
- Himmelherrgott, Waldfriedhofstr. 105 (cafe)
- Die Kaffee-Küche, Weißenburger Str. 6 (cafe)
- Kafehaus Karameel, Nymphenburger Str. 191 (Viennese-style coffee house)
- Lolas Eckcafé, Metzstr. 37
- Kaffee Sonnenschein, Gietlstr. 17
San Francisco Coffee Company, Nymphenburger Str. 151 (cafe)
- San Francisco Coffee Company Ostbahnhof, Orleanspl. 5a
- San Francisco Coffee Company Riem-Arcaden, Willy-Brandt-Pl. (cafe)
- San Francisco Coffee Company Maxvorstadt, Türkenstr. 47 (cafe)
- San Francisco Coffee Company Odeonsplatz, Theatinerstr. 23 (cafe)
- Black Bean, Amalienstr. 44 (cafe)
- MyMuesli München-Pasing w/in Pasing Arcaden, Josef-Felder-Str. 53 (muesli shop)
- MyMuesli München OEZ w/in Olympia-Einkaufszenrum, Hanauer Str. 68 (muesli shop)
[Munich, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Schwabing, Westend, Englischer_Garten, organic, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, vegan, gluten_free, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant, American, Italian, Japanese, covid, corona]