Friday, 03 February 2023
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. Since 2021 we also have seen the gradual arrival of dry food, preserves and spreads in returnable glasses formerly only used for yogurts.
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
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, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, 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 (currently quite basic) range of household and bodycare products. Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers, and increasingly also in deposit glasses. Since 2022 the range of goods has also been including ready-made convenience food like vegetarian bolognese and curry in retour glasses. The
sale of fresh greens and fruits was discontinued.
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. Be kind and wash your hands when entering the shop, for extra hygiene.
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.
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. It's usually less crowded which also explains why you may find it closed for some days during school holidays, especially in the summer.
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.
The neighbourhood of Trudering (a more than 1200 years old former village and suburb in the Eastern part of Munich) does not have a dedicated zero waste supermarket, but twice a month, on Tuesday afternoons, an indoor farmer's market dubbed Tante Trude ("Auntie Trudie") keeps popping up in the neighborhood associations' offices. Organic farmers offer local produce, and you can donate to the Trudelade project: home-cooked jam made from abandoned fruit trees in the neighbourhood (you'll get a jar as reward).
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.
South of Munich, directly located at the S-Bahn station of Neubiberg the owner of the conventional Edeka supermarket opened a side project next door,
Hertscheck Unpacked which hopefully attracts people who usually wouldn't buy off the conventional supermarket tracks.
Although not marked most of the unpackaged dry food is organic – the shop assistant explained that since the shop itself isn't certified but fills the gravity bins and glass jars from bigger packages it isn't allowed to declare the products as "bio". There's also a good selection of loose-weight natural body care (both, in solid and liquid form) and household chemistry from brands I haven't found elsewhere. You can refill organic gin and regional (though not organic) whisky. The highlight of the shop are grow cabinets with special lamps where a good selection of herbs is grown, naturally free from agrochemicals. For city dwellers the place most certainly is worth
a little bicycle ride (through the beautiful eco park Umweltgarten Neubiberg where an organic farmer's market is held on Thursday afternoons) or urban train tour even though the place has less liberal opening hours than the conventional supermarket next door.
Fun fact: The former premises of the Edeka supermarket now host a Vollcorner organic supermarket.
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.
About 20 years ago, Munich got its first – and to my knowledge only – organic department store centrally located a few steps from the Isartor: It consists of the city's first branch of the Basic supermarket chain with a self-service cafe on the ground floor and both, a self-service restaurant and a fashion and beauty store on the first floor. The latter,
Beauty & Nature, is a reliable source of organic clothes (with a focus on women and children), body care, home decoration, toys, dietary supplements and all types of sustainable household items including shoe shine, candles, seeds, cutting boards, or floor clothes.
Long anticipated, they started to offer refill for household detergents of the Sonett brand by the end of 2021, with a 10 percent discount. Since the staff is knowledgeable, friendly and helpful, do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions.
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 and others) or stainless steel containers (Basic).
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. The Herrmannsdorfer groceries (e.g. the one at Max-Weber-Platz) reward you with a few cents discount per saved packaging.
Until the end of 2022 Basic supermarkets had gravity bin dispensers for pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, grains and more. But since
the company announced threatening insolvency these have been removed and the package-free offerings were reduced to fruits and vegetables as well as food from the serviced bakery and butchers' counters.
For a little while all Basic supermarkets in Munich offered detergents for refill, but they seem to have disappeared, too. Early in 2023 I found however containers to return empty cleaning agents bottles of the Sonett brand at the main branch in Bogenhausen – the producer is collecting them for controlled re-cycling into new bottles.
The shops of the nation-wide operating Alnatura chain never offered refill dispensers. However, it has been increasing the range of products in returnable jars and bottles continously since 2021 – among others fairly traded nut butters, a number of dry products and even ketchup.
Dried fruits and nuts and (as a recent addition) vegan savoury spreads in refundable glasses as well as package-free toilet paper can also be bought from Vollcorner supermarkets. Their huge flagship store at Theresienwiese (with butcher's counter and lunch cafe) also experimented with a milk vending machine but this has been discontinued since 2019. Since 2022 there is however a dedicated shelf offering an impressive range of products in deposit glasses.
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 has been offering 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 customers brought along. When the shop was taken over by the Ökoesel co-operative dispensers for grains, nuts and the like as well as household chemicals were added, and you can
also buy all types of herbs and spices by the gram.
Ask for a deposit box in case you forgot to bring your own.
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. Before the covid-19 pandemics all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, were organic,
but now it's no longer that easy. Therefore a comprehensive list: There are three organic market gardens (Biogärtnerei an der Isen alias Avanti Andi, Demeterhof Fahrenzhausen alias O'is bio and a third one also selling flowers and seedlings which you will immediately recognise when greeted with a friendly French accent). Put differently: Simply avoid the biggest greengrocery booth, "Helminger".
For meat, sausages, cheese and other dairy products there are the aforementioned two producers, and in addition the farm sale of Bergwinklhof Monigottsöd. The latter also offers a small selection of wine, but for good and knowledgeable advise on wines or non-alcoholic drinks to accompany a meal you'll better pay a visit to Uli Scheffler's organic wine trader's booth. While the juices are readly available in deposit bottles, returnable wine bottles are still very rare, and not used for high-quality wines.
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.
While coffee is readily available from
loose weight convenience stores, tea drinkers aren't well catered for: Usually you will find some tisanes and one or two types of black tea. Fortunately specialist tea shops still exist, and as they sell loose weight teas by the gram don't be shy and ask them to fill your tea box.
Tee Gschwendner shop in the Asamhof backyard a few meters from the new pedestrian street of Sendlinger Straße this will work as long as the opening of your jar or box is wide enough for the shop assistant to fill it without touching it with her shovel. The franchise also sells conventional fare, so make sure to insist on organic quality – "Bio-Qualität" is the keyword. You'll find a decent selection of both, green, black and herbal teas, with and without aromatics. Bring a little time to stroll through the light and pleasant shop that has been at this place since the 1980ies, ask the assistant to show and suggest teas according to your taste and tell a little detail. When all your teas are filled into your jars you will be asked whether you fancy a tea sample, so it is smart to bring an additional small glass or jar.
Mind you that green tea doesn't store well in classic metal tea boxes as this material supports further oxidation processes.
In spring 2022 it turned out to be difficult to buy loose-weight organic flavoured tea as compliance to the EU regulation 2018/848 on organic products had not been established in time.
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.
Organic supermarkets which reduced their zero-waste approach
Between 2017 and 2022 supermarkets of the Basic chain had a clear focus on package- and plastic-free daily supplies. In 2023 the management stopped most of these efforts, and Basic went back to where it came from: being an ordinary supermarket, offering organic products only.
[Munich, Neubiberg, Gilching, Trudering, Wolfratshausen, Zorneding, Au, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Laim, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, Westend, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, bakeries, butcher, tea, bodycare, household, sushi, wine]
Friday, 06 January 2023
The easiest way to reduce waste is to buy directly from artisanal producers. So far all (organic) bakeries
have been willing to fill my purchase into the (obviously clean)
cotton bags I present for years, and – the times are changing – most shop assistants seem to be
used to the concept by now. Providing a container for cakes and pastries (or meat and cheese) may occasionally be met with a raised eyebrow, but when explained, most shop assistants comply, sometimes clumsily, with this request.
Munich still has a traditional butchers row on Viktualienmarkt, but unfortunately none of these shops is certified organic. And unlike in Berlin, I am not aware of any artisanal organic butcher start-ups in town (yet).
Nevertheless meat lovers will be happy to learn that the city, home of Weißwurst sausages and Leberkäse, still has an independent organic butcher 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 animals, allowing you to follow the nose-to-tail principle. They also have a proper cheese counter and offer lunch (and warm snacks) on weekdays.
In the Maxvorstadt, the family-owned butcher runs the meat counter within the Landmann's supermarket. This one offers lunch items for take out, too, and often has pickled herrings and other traditional German fish preserves, from sustainable sources.
To my knowledge Pichler is the only dedicated organic butcher shop in town. Other organic butchers from the region either run their own farmer's supermarkets
(Herrmannsdorfer) or mobile boothes on farmers' markets (Tagwerk). Their products are readily available in organic supermarkets, too.
You may also buy meat and meat products directly from organic farmers: either from
a market booth or from their own farmshop.
And last but not least: Some organic butchers sell their fare through other market traders like the Hofbäckerei Steingraber.
For bakeries the picture is much more versatile: While older surviving organic bakeries in the city have been growing in size, built bigger workshops and centralised production, a new generation of artisanal bakers revived the traditional concept of a combined bakehouse and shop.
Here you can buy bread and rolls still warm from the oven, and often even catch a glimpse of the bakers at work.
Direct trade at farmers markets probably is the most social option: Market traders are ever so happy to strike up a brief conversation.
The easiest way to tasty organic German (sourdough) bread and rolls is to find one of the numerous branches
of Hofpfisterei ("Baker with appointment to the court"), with a history dating back almost 700 years and about 150 shops in Bavaria (plus a few in Baden-Württemberg and Berlin) likely to be
the biggest organic bakery (chain) in Germany. Much of the baking is done by contractors, and
the company is transparent about their production standards the question "Who made my bread?" remains unanswered. Given the sheer number of Hofpfisterei shops in Munich, I only
list the ones open on
Compared with this giant all other organic bakeries are dwarfs with no more than a handful of shops. Coffee-lovers better stay away from the coffee at Hofpfisterei branches, but the automatic coffee machine (run on organic milk and coffee beans) and one or more high tables for a quick lunch or snack are standard facilities in all bakery branches as are returnable coffee mugs if you insist on a coffee drink to take with you. Your own mug will be accepted widely by now, at least as long as it is clean.
The Augsburg-based family-run
Bäckerei Schubert is running two owned shops within Vitalia health food shops, one of them next to the Viktualienmarkt, the other in Laim.
The Munich branch of the Dachau-based family-run organic bakery Gürtner is located opposite the Lebascha grocery in Haidhausen. They mill the flour slowly using a Zentrofan wholefood mill resulting in wholemeal croissants tasting fresher and almost as light as those made from pastry flour. For lunch the bakery offers the standard that can be expected from Munich bakery shops: readily prepared sandwiches or "Butterbrezn" (buttered pretzls). There's a second Gürtner branch on the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt near the Pasing train station.
With roots in Munich, and since 2020 back baking in town, Fritz Mühlenbäckerei
will not only provide you with fresh
bread, cakes, and rolls on Sundays: The shop in Haidhausen where everything started does no longer act as a bakehouse, but it still sports well-assorted fridges and shelves with all organic food you may have forgotten for the Sunday breakfast. In spring 2021 the bakery took over a market booth in the Northern part of the Viktualienmarkt, next to Heilig Geist church which however is closed on Sundays.
To avoid food waste, if you are on a small budget and as long as you aren't out for a special type of bread or roll I recommend the Fritz bakery's yesterday's bread shop, Zweitbrotladen, in Haidhausen. However, this small shop has a disadvantage: by the end of its quite restricted opening hours you may find that everything you fancy has been sold out.
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 here is not organic. 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.
All of the aforementioned bakeries (except the Hofpfisterei) sell good home-made cakes. But if you are out for the art of pastry and tarts there's one
bakery not to miss, a bakery not only founded within the city boundaries but still
a true native: The Brot- und Feinbäckerei Neulinger with its gorgeous Café Reichshof and four more shops.
While the Fritz bakery relocated its main factory to a new-built complex in the Bavarian municipality of Aying and only has a small artisanal bread bakery in town, the Neulingers are baking everything in a light and open, pleasantly humming workshop in Sendling, and all of their shops are open both, on Sundays and most public holidays (except January, 1).
The Munich revival of the (German) bread bakery in its traditional
sense of bakehouse and shop sharing the same address started in the posh municipality of Grünwald with Lokalbäckerei Brotzeit. These guys also run a small sales counter inside the
zero waste shop Ohne in Maxvorstadt, and frankly: No other bread in town keeps the taste
of fresh sourdough bread as long as theirs.
Others followed: The luxurious artisanal organic bread of Julius Brantner is being served at the most upmarket fine-dining restaurants in town – and you can buy it from the bakery in Schwabing. Make sure to come in time – especially on a Saturday you may find the shop closed after the last bread was sold.
If you do not succeed, try the Brotraum bakery, conveniently located near Münchner Freiheit.
For gluten-free organic breads and pastries your first stop is
Echt jetzt, a decidedly gluten-free shop cum cafe near the Pinakotheken museums,
with production on premise.
And last but not least there is an organic bakery chain with an integrated open bakehouse (run on sustainable energy) as part of the shop concept:
Cumpanum, based in the small town of Bobingen, south of Augsburg, combines a shiny bakery counter (with friendly service) with a delicatessen (and a cafe corner). If you are on your way to a Sunday brunch with friends and family and are looking for a little something you'll find hand-made organic preserves, herbs and condiments and other eatable luxury on their shelves.
"Neverending bread" may sound funny, but the master mind (and master baker) of Cumpanum and his team are also running two organic bread shops with this name,
Unendlich Brot: one in Munich's Maxvorstadt, and one in Landsberg am Lech. Also here all doughs are free from wheat.
[Munich, Trudering, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Schwabing, Landsberg_am_Lech, Bobingen, organic, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, lunch, bakeries, butcher]
Thursday, 08 December 2022
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 in Haidhausen is Saladins Souk with its rather irrational opening hours. If it is closed you may move next door to Erbils vegan Turkish eatery.
In autumn 2021 I noticed to my delight that these aren't the only mocca places anymore: The Icedate ice-cream parlour in Maxvorstadt started serving organic coffee, although the price tag of 2.40 EUR the mocca is rather stiff.
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, during covid-19 hygienic restrictions the small bar in the Glockenbach neighbourhood 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.
If you prefer your coffee with biodynamic (Demeter) milk head for the Sorry Johnny coffee bar in Haidhausen, conveniently located at the Wörthstraße tram stop. The place has quite unusual opening hours: closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and open during the early evening
on Fridays and Saturdays. The bar replaced a vegan clean-eating spot in autumn 2021 which, for a while, prepared my favourite oat-based latte – a coffee preparation that's still available here.
Without the heavy car traffic the area between Max-Weber-
and Wiener Platz could be a lovely urban hideaway, with singing tram tracks, an underground station (exhibiting Munich's first horse tram), pleasant shops, cafes and nearby parks. To escape from the agressive passive motorised mobility along Innere Wiener Straße jump into quiet Steinstraße and take a breath at the tiny
Coffee Box cafe. Although some of their coffee is roasted by
Merchant & Friends in Glonn, none of the
beans served here are organic. The milk, however, is organic, as is the ginger and pomegranate juices used in some drinks. For a refreshment in the summer heat have an
organic, vegan popsicle.
(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, 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.
For a filling slice of raw vegan tarte head for the Eastern neighbourhood of Haidhausen: Take a stroll from Ostbahnhof train station to the cosy corner shop Lebascha or leave the tram or tube at Max-Weber-Platz where you find the newly established flagship store of
Épique Raw, a raw and fully organic Munich patisserie. A very serious Italian-style coffee aside (the beans are not certified organic but wild and small-scale) watch trams, cyclists and pedestrians (well, and cars, unfortunately) passing by: Although the shop is take-away only in the pandemic simply ask the friendly staff for a earthenware cup and plate and enjoy outside.
The place shares its premises with soon-to-be-opened predominantly organic self-service eatery Greens & Grains.
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.
In the Westend, a few steps from Theresienwiese (and the Emilo cafe)
Café Gollier is a pleasant neighbourhood day cafe, popular for breakfast and hearty lunch. They promise to use regional, preferably organic products according to availability, but so far I have not had the chance to eat here.
Closed for covid-19 pandemic
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
- Contains Coffee, Celibidacheforum
- 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]
Sunday, 23 October 2022
Many years ago I noticed a sign post in Munich: This way to Venice on bike.
Since then the idea has been developing, and this summer I had almost sufficient time off to get on the road from
Munich to Venice.
Almost: To cross the Alps and the Dolomites comfortably, in style and on the same motorless bike used in daily city traffic five days
are not enough. In addition, the weather forecast for my first day off announced heavy rains on the way from Munich.
So we decided on a lazy start with a local train to Lengries in the afternoon. Starting off in perfect bicycle weather, we were soon caught by pouring rain. It turned out that
on the German side, the bridge over the Walchen river was the only shelter
on the route. The route itself followed a pattern common for all Bavarian bikeroutes I have taken so far: straight paved road for
cars, much up and down and lots of gravel on the bikeroute. The reward: Breathtaking
views over both, the Sylvensteinspeicher dam and the Walchen river.
After the Austrian border cyclists are taken better care of:
Most of the time the signposts guided us on separate or
low-traffic ways, all paved. No need for a map or a GPS so far, all the way
When we approached picturesque lake Achensee the rain had ceased but the sun already started to set. So there was no time to stop for an organic farmers' ice-cream ("Biobauernhofeis") at Seestraße, to the left of the gate to the public bathing beach at the Northern part of the lake and marvel its deserted beauty after the rain. So I'm really sorry I did not stop to map the ice-cream kiosk on OSM! A little further South I also noticed a shop advertising locally produced natural bodycare and organic herbs: Kräuterhüttl. Obviously, this is tourist land.
Instead we pedalled fast to reach a late urban train from Jenbach to
Innsbruck where we arrived late.
The twisting road downhill to Jenbach is steep – cyclists in Jenbach must be fit! In the dark and even though there was little car traffic at that time of the day it wasn't the fun it otherwise could have been. From Jenbach the urban trains S4 and S5 run by S-Bahn Tirol give cyclists a welcome and reliable shortcut all the way uphill to Innsbruck.
Brenner Pass and Puster Valley: Innsbruck–Terenten/Terento by train and bike
Given our tight time budget we decided to continue lazily the second day:
The urban train S3 from Innsbruck to Brenner/Brennero
is a comfortable shortcut for the tedious (and ugly) way uphill trusted by cyclists (not only lazy us). At the once nice border station between Austria and the Italian province of South Tyrol we waved good-bye to the ugly motorway E45 crowded with equally ugly cars.
From here: let loose and roll on, on the track bed of the old train
line over the Brenner Pass. Easy. Pedalling started around Sterzing. Lots of cyclists on the
way (including families), but there was not a minute without the constant noise of fossile-fuelled passively moved obese cars on the motorway, always within hearing range, often within eye-sight.
The bicycle route is
all paved and usually guarded with railings, and there are frequent
signposts. However, be careful and watch out for the red horizontal stripes on the pavement: They are marking serious bumps which can be dangerous at the good speed you may gain.
Unfortunately the route avoids habitated placed, so for food you have
to actively leave it as you certainly do not want to pick off the apples
or corn ears along the way: Almost all of them are treated with pesticides.
For the night my partner wanted to find a nice, eco-friendly hotel – and made the mistake to trust in Google. So we left the bike route at Niedervintl/Vandoies di Sotto in the Puster Valley for Terenten/Terento.
600 meters difference in altitude divided upon only six kilometres, a proper work-out for the evening.
Taking the twisting road uphill was not nice even though most car drivers behaved
properly. We met the public bus no. 421 from Vintl/Vandoies station via Terenten/Terento to Bruneck/Brunico operated at an interval of half an hour (two hours on Sundays) during the day: It was nearly empty in both
Arriving at the hotel it felt like becoming the talk of the town, other guests were looking at us in disbelief: Up here without an engine? When you see this nice village depending on car-driven
tourism the necessary change seems impossible. Depressing.
Puster Valley: Terenten/Terento–Cortina d'Ampezzo by bike
a quiet night with a beautifully starry sky we took the nicer road
down from Terenten to Kiens. Here we met a handful e-bikers on their way uphill
before we set out on our third leg to Cortina d'Ampezzo. This part of the route through
the Puster Valley is hilly (approximately one kilometre difference in altitude) and passes
through towns and villages.
Most of the route is separated from motorised
traffic but only partially paved. While the gravel parts after
Bruneck/Brunico and along Lake Olang would be doable on a Dutch bike, the entire
way from Toblach to Cortina with its breathtaking
views on the UNESCO World Heritage of the Dolomites is a nuisance:
gravel, gravel, deep gravel while the motorised traffic runs smoothly on the new-paved road
within hearing range.
Interestingly, this leg of the route was the only part where oncoming cyclists wouldn't nod (or say) a greeting, not even return our greeting. The vast majority of them used e-bikes, probably car drivers no longer used to this comradely tradition of the hills.
On the pass at the border between South Tyrol
and Belluno we decided to continue on the Strada Statale downhill
as we wanted to reach Cortina before sunset: Apart from the constant
danger of being steamrolled this road lives up to the standard other
Italian long-distance bicycle routes definitely have.
congestion into Cortina and no way around for cyclists.
Cadore Valley, Piave river and the home of Prosecco: Cortina d'Ampezzo–Conegliano by bike
The fourth leg of the tour
started nicely downhill on a paved separated bikeroute out of
Cortina. At Località Socol the route u-turns to the left into the
gravel nuisance of a hiking trail.
Only after leaving the municipality of Cortina d'Ampezzo the route changes to a bicycle route worth
The fun starts on the
former railway line to St. Vito di Cadore, and continues along the Cadore
Valley. Comfortable cycling with great views. The only point without a
route sign comes when you have to leave the former
rail line for the approximately one kilometre difference in altitude downhill to the
bottom of the valley.
This is where you start sharing the road with cars,
but no worries: The neverending stream of passive mobilists is now using
a new motorway (of which you don't hear much noise), and the old
Strada Statale di Alemagna 51, nicely paved, is only for you and your
downhill fun, occasionally shared with you by a local car. The contrary
wind helped to slow down downhill (and the oncoming pedalists uphill).
Hopefully the road will continue to be maintained for cyclists.
the fun stops when reaching the lowlands.
On the remaining route to Prosecco
land signs have been put up less frequently and only on short
stretches active mobility is separated from passive. The landscape
itself is interesting: the scarse flat shaped by the river Piave,
through industrial zones, along lakes. But don't be mistaken: it's
hilly, with only short flat stretches. Our day ended with
a gorgeous, partially organic dinner in Conegliano.
Through the Veneto: Conegliano–Venice by bike
The final leg of the München–Venezia bikeroute is flat, dry and hot (in August). The usual Veneto
bicycle route mix: leisurely alleys in the shade along the river, here and
there separated communal bikelanes of varying quality, shared traffic
on not too highly frequented roads. The route is marked but often with
small signs easy to be missed.
We did not follow the route strictly but
cut off here and there on local bikeroutes. Arriving in Venice by bike is a breathtaking experience: The railway and road bridge Ponte della Libertà ("Freedom Bridge") connecting Mestre on the mainland shore with the city of Venice itself has a dedicated bicycle lane, and you see Venezia St. Lucia approaching in front of you.
Bicycles in the waterborne city itself are naturally a nuisance, so we decided to stay on the Lido. Unfortunately there are no signs guiding cyclists from Piazzale Roma to the car ferry on the artificial island of Tronchetto. The ferry ride is an inexpensive pleasure – watch the city passing by from Giudecca Channel.
We did not take the bike back to Munich. Instead reliable
Austrian Railways ÖBB gave us and the bikes a lift (to be safe we had bought the tickets and reservations well in advance).
Accommodation on the route
The route's official webpage has a directory of bicycle-friendly accommodations, but since you cannot simply search for a place its use is limited. More, (sometime the same) places can be found on the reliable
Bett&Bike site run by Germany's bicycle association, the ADFC.
Unfortunately none of these directories allows to filter for environment- and climate-relevant measures like organic breakfast, use of renewable energies or environment-friendly cleaning agents.
These efforts towards sustainable tourism are taken into account by the EcoBNB platform.
Most other cyclists we met on the route had a tent with them, certainly the cheapest, but also the most uncomfortable way to spend the nights. We preferred to carry a minimum of luggage, and decided on a budget between 100 and 200 EUR for the night. Unfortunately this budget was too tight for the places I found where you probably could have a fully organic breakfast.
For the first and last stop, Innsbruck and Venice we booked accommodation upfront, but being unfamiliar with the route we decided on last-minute booking directly from the hotels.
The first night we spent at
Hostel Marmota in Innsbruck. It has a spacious bicycle storage room in the basement which is locked during the night. Arriving late was no issue; even though the reception did not answer the phone. The bar did not offer any organic refreshments, but there was one type of organic tea and organic oat drink at the breakfast buffet. Clean, basic, no-frills room.
For the second night in the Puster valley my partner learned a lesson: Do not rely on Google Maps (personally I don't use Google services unless forced to): Even a few kilometers can be very long when they turn out to be uphill after a day on the bike. Our last minute booking call
to Naturhotel Edelweiß in Terenten/Terento
resulted in a very friendly price for a spacious, very nice, wood-furnished room including four-course dinner (for guests only).
The kitchen at this family-run hotel uses local ingredients, but isn't suitable for vegetarians. Also here the only organic items on the breakfast buffet were one type of tea and a plant-based drink (soy in this case). There's no storage room for bikes, but we were allowed to park directly in front of the hotel and turned out to be an attraction for car-dependent hotel guests.
Famous for hosting the winter olympics of 1956 the 2022 version of Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Dolomites turned out to be a single expensive (though still quite elegant) pedestrian street in the middle of a car jam which even us on our bikes forced into a stop-and-go. The most expensive night of our tour we spent in
a basic room with plush furniture at Hotel Montana with a very nice view from the balcony and the air of past grandezza. In addition to the one variety of organic tea and organic soy drink (by now experienced as a sort of minimal standard) the breakfast buffet offered one variety of organic blueberry jam!
The hotel was listed as bike-friendly, and indeed, we could store the bikes in a crammed storage room dedicated to the purpose.
The last night on the way to Venice we spent in Conegliano, at
Relais Le Betulle which we found at at EcoBNB. Their hotel restaurant, Enrica Miron, serves organic meat and eggs, and we were very satisfied with our carte blanche
menu of the day. The breakfast buffet however did not offer more organic items than we by now found usual. There's no dedicated parking space for bikes; we were allowed to take the bikes on the (spacious) room (which had sufficient space on the balcony), but decided to use a car parking lot.
To find a bicycle-friendly accommodation at the final destination, Venice, is not so easy given the aquatic nature of the city. Riding a bike is possible on the Lido, and from a previous bike tour through the Veneto (via Chioggia) we knew that the friendly, family-run
Villa Casanova would allow us to park the bikes in its backyard. From that visit we also knew not to expect any organic items on the breakfast buffet (not even tea and milk), despite the fact that the hotel advertises partially organic breakfast. But the rooms are pleasant and the price is friendly compared with Venice standard.
- Hostel Marmota, Tummelplatzweg 2, Innsbruck
- Naturhotel Edelweiss, Unterdorfstr. 6, Terenten/Terento
- Hotel Montana, Corso Italia 94
, Cortina d'Ampezzo
- Relais le Betulle, Via Costa Alta, 56, Conegliano
- Villa Casanova, Via Orso Partecipazio, 9, Lido di Venezia
More to try
For the following hotels I found sufficient evidence for use of organic produce in the kitchen and/or a significant part of organic food and drinks at the breakfast buffet, but I cannot give an eyewitness account.
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Tuesday, 18 October 2022
Every organic supermarket big enough to be equipped with a freezer will sell you iced-lollies or pre-packaged cups of ice-cream, at least during the warm season. But for the real thing you need to know where to find your small scale artisanal organic ice-cream parlour. Fortunately there are sufficient options to find your favourite one, unfortunately only a few of them sell their fare in organic wafer cones. The covid-19 pandemic introduced ice-cream seasons starting as early as February (e.g. at the Bartu shops and True & 12 at the Gasteig), often restricted to nice spring afternoons, but usually you can expect the ice-cream to appear at the beginning of April.
Arguably the best ice-cream in town is made by former shoe-pusher Thomas Bartu and his crew in Schwabing. Just like the best ice-cream parlours in Italy they cover their 24 types of ice-cream hygienically instead of displaying them for show-off. All ingredients are listed on big and nicely layouted wallpapers, leaving no questions open for vegans or people with allergies. Children under 13 years pay less (1.70 €) for the scoop than adults (2 €). You can also have a good (though not organic) cup of Italian-style coffee or an organic soft-drink, and a yummy organic pizza. If you haven't had enough you can choose from an ever changing selection of Bartu ice-creams to take away in reusable containers. And the best: They don't close their shop during the cold season. On the other hand don't count on opening hours longer than the regular 10 pm; in fact they often close about ten minutes before.
Summer 2018 saw the opening of a second Bartu ice-cream parlour in the Maxvorstadt. The nicely styled cafe – with tables and all – is located next to the Gratitude restaurant. If you fancy a caffe affogato (Italian espresso with ice-cream) have it the Italian way, with Fior di latte instead of vanilla ice-cream. They also serve organic tea, soups and soft drinks, and since the covid-19 winter of 2020/21 you can also have a one-pot organic lunch. Fortunately the the wafer cones are back, so are no longer inclined to produce waste. Although the shop is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during the cold season you may be lucky on nice weather Mondays and Tuesdays in spring when the shop nevertheless opens at noon.
While Thomas Bartu occassionally extends his sales with various pop-up stores he doesn't seem inclined to expand his business into a chain. So here was a niche which Stefano di Giglio of Del Fiore tried to fill: He and his team started with three gelaterie at once in 2017, of which only one was left by 2021. You'll find it in Schwabing, near the university quarter's entrance to the Englischer Garten, and I am inclined to say that it is run by independent owners.
Di Giglio seems to concentrate on ice-cream making for local third-party vendors like
organic supermarkets and cafes. In the summer of 2021 I found the NY-style Occam Deli in Schwabing to sell Del Fiore ice-cream to passers-by, and since 2022 the tramstop cafe
Il Chiosco at the Ostfriedhof graveyard has not only been beautifying an ugly crossroad of Tegernseer Landstraße, but allowing for an organic ice-cream while you wait for the tram.
Both, the milk-based flavours and the sorbets, are fully organic and extremely palatable, though quite pricey. Il Chiosco concludes the ice-cream season at the beginning of November.
A stroll along the Isar river to the Western shore of Wittelsbacher bridge gives you another opportunity for a partially organic ice-cream stop: The ChocoLab cafe cum chocolaterie at Baldeplatz is not organic in general, but the dairy ice-cream sold here is made from organic milk.
Where would you expect organic and vegan ice-cream to go if not in the university quarter? A two-minutes walk from the Northern exit of the tube station "Universität" in the Maxvorstand neighbourhood you'll find IceDate serving date and cashew-based ice-cream varieties. I prefer their strong flavours like the chocolate varieties or coffee; the more subtle ones like hemp or green tea often need polishing.
A scoop goes for 2.20 EUR, and every serving is topped with a small quantity of an additional flavour. Bad weather is no issue since they have a pleasant indoors sitting area.
Amid the covid-19 spring of 2020 a second branch opened next to the Tushita tea house, in humming Glockenbachviertel, and
a mobile IceDate booth can also be found on many street festivals in the city.
In the neighbourhood of Haidhausen you have three possible targets: Cosy though buzzing Café Reichshof a five minutes brisk walk from Ostbahnhof station offers home-made ice-cream spring through early autumn, though you may be tempted to indulge yourself in one of their gorgeous cakes instead (or have both?) The stuccoed ceiling with candelabras play well together with the wooden shelves of the bakery display, making for an inviting yet not overwhelming interior. During the warm season you may prefer to sit outside facing relaxing Bordeauxplatz. Be prepared to queue on nice-weather days, but since the service is swift, efficient and friendly waiting will usually take shorter time than expected. The Neulinger's ice-cream season ends in October; the scoop in 2022 went for 1.80 EUR and is served in organic wafer cones. Since the shop participates in the Hey (formerly Brot am Haken) campaign you may buy a coffee, bread or cake voucher for someone in need as you go. If you buy a coffee drink to take away in your own or a Recup cup you'll get 10 cents off for sparing the environment.
November 2019 the entire location underwent major work to re-establish the coffee house of old on the premises of the former bakery workshop (the work is now done in the new facilities in the wholesale market area of Sendling), and now that it's ready it turns out to be a true jewel. Spacious and family friendly, in the tradition of the great coffee houses of the 1920ies it's a recommended hideout, both for breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch or a coffee break. Before 9 am you can order your breakfast at the counter and take a seat in the front part, service starts at 9 am.
Café Reichshof is not the only branch of Bäckerei Neulinger, an artisanal organic bakery: There are two older shops in the neighbourhood of Neuhausen and a new cafe cum bakery located in the former meat-packing district, the Schlachthofviertel. In 2018 the Neulinger family moved its "headquarter" from Neuhausen to Sendling, to the premises of a former banana ripening facility –
a light and quiet place to have lunch while watching the bakers working the dough. Have an ice-cream on top as you leave. Since 2022, all Neulinger shops have been open on Sundays and public holidays, though the smaller shops only in the morning, for breakfast rolls.
For a very special treat step by Oliver a few steps from Café Reichshof at the south-eastern end of Bordeauxplatz: freshly prepared hand-rolled vegan organic ice-cream.
If you fancy an ice-cream during your evening stroll head for fancy True & 12 opposite the Gasteig cultural centre. Their milk comes from a family-run organic farm keeping grass-fed cattle half an hour away by urban train (plus five minutes by bus plus half an hours walk). Other ingredients like hazelnuts and eggs are also organic,
the non-organic ingredients of course all natural. The lip-smacking delicious result comes in original flavours like lavender and cassis (dubbed "Haidhausen") as well as standard flavours like chocolate or vanilla, both of unusually high quality. The scoop in 2022 goes 2 €. For an additional euro you will be served in a hand-rolled cinnamon-flavoured cone or shell, so ask for availability! To much regret also this place is closed from end of October to mid of March.
In Neuhausen organic ice-cream to go can also be had from Café Ruffini, described in my restaurant post.
The classical Italian ice-cream parlour – ice-cream to go, and not much ado – you'll find with Gelateria Artefredda in Giesing near Ostfriedhof on busy Tegernseer Landstraße. The right-hand side of their display features their organic varieties for 2.20 EUR the scoop – about eight ones to choose from. With its unpretentious eco-styled walls the cafe makes a light and pleasant place to have a short coffee break (prepared with organic milk). Most sundaes can be had with organic ice-cream, but unfortunately neither fully organic nor in re-usable cups. Artefredda keeps closed during the cold season. On bad weather days they often open up a quarter of an hour past their announced opening time, nice weather provided they will often keep open longer than announced.
Not far away, a five minutes walk downtown from Giesing Bahnhof station, a new modern ice-cream parlour opened its doors on the premises of a conventional one in 2021: GelatOk! promises all natural ice-cream, with as little organic life-style as possible for an audience that does not usually frequent organic supermarkets. The milk for the creamy and exceptionally tasty ice-cream however is organic and comes from the Berchtesgadener Land dairy, and if you order a coffee drink, it's made with organic milk, too. Another good sign for the ice-cream is that it is produced in small batches – most of the containers weren't filled to the brim.
In the Glockenbach neighbourhood you'll find Das Eismeer, Munich's first self-proclaimed climate-neutral ice-cream parlour. Although the egg-free ice-cream here is all natural the main ingredients like sugar and milk are not organic. Single organic flavourings like vanilla or poppy seeds are however advertised in big letters so that you may get the impression that the entire ice-cream was organic. Looks a bit like a dark pattern to me. If you fancy a hot drink: coffee and cocoa are both organic (and the latter also fairly traded).
Kids pay less for the ice-cream than adults.
In the Western neighbourhood of Pasing you may set out for a stroll to Sweet Monkeys. Next to the graveyard, tucked away between a stonemasonry and a flower shop the clean and pleasantly decorated ice-cream parlour serves lip-smacking ice-cream made from organic milk from the Berchtesgadener Land dairy and veges from the nearby organic gardener Florian Kamlah. Not all ingredients are organic, but there's a commitment to avoid transport by buying local and energy emissions by using sustainable energy. This ice-cream shop offers some unusual flavours like cucumber-pineapple, white coffee or lime yogurt and you can also order sundaes like the children's favourite spaghetti ice-cream (spaghetti-like pressed vanilla ice-cream with berry sauce). Unfortunately the place is too far from the Pasing train station to be reached while waiting for a connecting train.
There's a second branch in Moosach.
Markets and street festivals
If you happen to attend a street festival in Munich like the semi-annual Streetlife on Leopoldstraße or the annual Munich Sports Festival on Königsplatz watch out for a pink-blue food truck selling Cramer's Speiseeis in cones. The Cramers run a family-driven organic bakery cum pastry shop in Gauting near Munich, where they also make their ice-cream, so be brave when you're in the vicinity and give their spicy ginger or chocolate-chili varieties a try.
While there's no more organic ice-cream at the Viktualienmarkt the weekly Saturday farmers' market at the Seehaus within Englischer Garten has a heart for those with a sweet tooth: During the summer monthes the Biohof Butz does not only sell organic fruits and veges, but also ice-cream made from milk by the farms' own cows.
No more ice-cream
When you take a stroll about the famous Viktualienmarkt food market the desire for an ice-cream may come natural. Unfortunately the
Trübenecker organic fruits and veges booth does no longer offer organic ice-cream in the summer – instead you can have freshly made all-organic smoothies.
No longer organic
Ceased to exist
The following places do no longer exist, even though you still might find references to them on the web:
- Amorino, Schützenstr. within front of Karstadt department store
- Amorino, Wiener Pl.
- Ella Bartu within Eis, Eisbaby installation by Daniel Man in front of Lenbachhaus art museum, Luisenstr. 33
- Bartu c/o Feinkost Käfer, Prinzregentenstr. 73
- Bartu ice-cream & Brenner Kitchen, Feilitzschstr. 4 (pop-up mobile ice-cream booth)
- Del Fiore Gelato Gärtnerplatz, Gärtnerpl. 1
- Del Fiore Gelato Roecklplatz, Ehrengutstr. 18
- Jack&Eddy's, Pestalozzistr. 7 (organic frozen yoghurt)
- Naturale Bio Eisdiele, Winthirstr. 9b
[Munich, Haidhausen, Giesing, Moosach, Pasing, Schwabing, organic, vegan, ice-cream, coffee, cafe, Italian, bakeries, covid, corona]