Saturday, 02 September 2023
A hotspot for the coffee and tea trade the Hanseatic city of Bremen has a tradition for exotic beverages, and has always been a place with room for a subtler and more sophisticated approach to these beverages than the conventional mass-market. Organic and ecological projects have been blooming here for much longer than elsewhere, and so you can expect to find long established organic places blossoming alongside recent start-ups. What you will rarely find however are shiny, polished hipster cafes.
If you have to describe this neighbourhood in a sentence you'd probably point to the omnipresence of flee market-purchased furniture and objects in its lovingly and individually decorated independent shops and cafes. The beer tables on the pleasant garden terrace of Cafe Radieschen ("radish") as well as its indoor walls are all painted pink! If you come hungry first have a predominantly organic vegetarian or vegan pasta dish or sandwich before you turn to their impressive choice of home-made, predominantly organic cakes. Most drinks as well as the milk are organic, you can have an organic vegan ice-cream in the summer, and ingredients are sourced locally as far as possible. Lunch is usually offered between 12 am and 3 pm, and instead of the weekend the place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The cafe plays host to a lot of neighbourhood activities, among them home-cooking events with young refugees from the house across the street. They always take a summer vacation.
Closer to Wilhelm Kaisen bridge and a few steps from the Kaemena ice-cream parlour you'll find a sweet art cafe dubbed Cafe Frida. They serve organic tea, soft drinks and soy milk for your coffee drink alongside home-made cakes, but neither the cakes nor the coffee, milk and oat milk are organic. You may however buy
organic fairly traded Slokoffie coffee sailed from Honduras and distributed by bicycle to have at home. Due to covid-19 restrictions you can not have breakfast here for the time being.
Whether you visit the Kunsthalle museum of art or just come by on your way into the alternative neighbourhood of the Viertel climb the stairs to the museum's self-service
Cafe Sylvette inside the art museum. It's run by the crew of the Canova restaurant behind the museum and offers home-made cakes, organic soft drinks or tea, coffee drinks with organic milk and partially organic savoury snacks at upmarket prices, but in stylish surroundings. When the weather is nice opt for the outdoor seating for the views (and corona safety).
Whether you want to spend some time reading with a delicious coffee drink aside or simply feel for a short espresso in between, the
Contigo shop in Ostertorsteinweg is definitely worth a try. The shops of this small chain of fair-trade shops resemble each other, both, when it comes to the interior design as well as in the assortments of goods (predominantly coffee, tea, chocolate, jewellery, bags and colourful accessoiries). The Bremen branch moved lately, and, on its new premises, has quite a large area with chairs and tables so that the shop (other than the ones in Dresden or Göttingen) has more of a coffeehouse atmosphere. Although you have to place your order at the till you will be served. They use sparingly roasted high quality coffee beans which result in a "greener", tangy taste even of the milk-based drinks like a flat white.
Usually it's not crowded, and hence a place to go when you feel for a less noisy spot. Surrounded by a gorgeous fair fashion and another fair-trade shop on one side, a health food store on the other and an organic cosmetics shop (almost) opposite you may however feel tempted to spend more money than initially planned.
Another cosy and serene place for an Italian-style coffee drink is just a few steps away: the
Noras reviewed in the
The city's narrowest lanes are to be found in tourist hotspot Schnoor at the other, Northern shore of the river Weser.
To enjoy the atmosphere of this oldest part of town dating back to the 15th and 16th century, follow the Wüstestätte ("waste site") alleyway until the end and have a tea in a beautiful yet narrow two-storey tea house and shop dubbed Teestübchen ("little tea parlour"). Nice weather provided you can also sit outdoor and enjoy breakfast or tea time with a home-made cake, or a high tea with a pasta, typical local dishes, or Alsatian "pizza" (Flammkuchen).
Many ingredients are organic, but you might want to be picky when choosing the tea since not all of them are.
Mind you: if you approach the Schnoor from the water front you'll approach the place from behind: The outdoor tables you see in the picture above do not belong to Teestübchen, and a surprised waiter from the adjacent restaurant won't be able to meet your requests. Simply move around the house!
Starting in the summer of 2020 the coffee bicycle of Coffee Bike has been offering Italian-style organic coffee drinks to city dwellers. Looks environment-friendly? Well, the bicycle is only make believe, and they serve their fare in one-way cups. You can easily top this – with a fairly traded organic coffee transported to Bremen without climate emissions by sailship and bicycle, in an earthenware cup, at the Biten food truck on the Domshof market.
On Mondays and Fridays you may also find the Bremer Straßencafé here.
For a filling (vegan) porridge and coffee drink on the go or on the spot the
Haferkater cafe in the passage of the main train station is an option on weekday mornings. While all pre-packaged products of the Haferkater brand and the cow milk are organic, it remains unclear whether the freshly rolled oats, and the toppings are so. The coffee is not organically certified, but fairly traded, and the oat drink unfortunately is conventional fare. They also have a decent assortment of bowls, wraps and sweets, and the shop assistant told me that some of the ingredients used here were organic, but was hesitant to specify what. You may come with your own box or cup; if not you may get a returnable bowl or cup as long as you trust (and are willing to install) the Vytal app. Insist on an earthenware cup if you intend to drink your coffee on the spot.
At the university campus
University refectories usually are no gourmet temples, but it is nevertheless a pity that the Mensa refectory on the campus stopped to offer organic side dishes. In 2023 they increased their efforts again, and now make a commitment to use only organic dairy products (they also offer organic home-made pasta at the "Pastawerk" booth Tuesday through Thursday). So you still can have an organic and fairly traded coffee drinks with locally sourced organic milk from the coffee vending machines at Cafe Central.
It's not a delight, though – the coffee tastes bitter from too high a temperature inside the machine, but it's cheap and ethical.
Tasty speciality coffee can be had from the mobile street vendor
Bremer Straßencafé on Tuesdays and hursdays around lunch. (The other working days it is supposed to be found at the Domshof in the inner city (on Mondays and Fridays), and on Saturday at the Pappelstraße in the Neustadt (supposedly at the neighbourhood market place) – if you can confirm this please let me know.)
The coffee isn't certified organic, but the cow milk used for coffee drinks is. Unfortunately the lovingly decorated coffee car (a former small scale butcher's market car which the owner refurbished and staffed with both, a barista coffee machine and a dish washer) is likely to be retired soon and replaced by a car trailer. On Thursdays the vendor may sometimes still be there after 2pm.
If you want to invest into regular supermarket prices, the new branch of the local Aleco organic supermarket chain on the campus of the economics (Wirtschaftswissenschaften) school of the university has a self-service cafe where you can get organic snacks and coffee drinks. Their coffee machine however is a fully automatic one, so do not expect serious barista fare here neither. Due to covid-19 restrictions the self-service cafe is closed for the time being, but you can get coffee and cake to take away, simply don't forget to bring your own mug and lunch box to avoid waste.
Obervieland is probably not the part of Bremen you will visit as a tourist, but if you happen to come here and are in the mood to mingle with natives step by the Gartencafé of the protestant St. Paul's parish in the former village of Habenhausen to have a coffee. There's fairly traded organic coffee, organic milk, organic soft drinks and drinking water bottled by a social business of the not-for-profit organisation Viva con Agua. The American cookies are of course home-made, and there are no fixed prices: You pay what you can, but please, be honest. The cafe is closed on Mondays and during the school holidays in summer.
Closed since the covid-19 pandemics
[Bremen, Neustadt, Schnoor, Worpswede, organic, fair, vegan, vegetarian, coffee, tea, lunch, cafe, breakfast]
Thursday, 31 August 2023
When dedicated zero waste convenience stores started to bloom in bigger cities like Munich during the covid-19 spring of 2020 Bremen already had three established package-free shops, with a fourth one that opened its door early in 2020. Back then some of the shop keepers were afraid that there might be too many to survive in a city of the size of Bremen, and after the pandemic years it's not all sunshine for these small businesses. However, Bremen hasn't seen the same series of zero-waste shop closings cities like Munich have. Even when you run out of food on a Sunday you can grab your jars and boxes and set out for refill.
Dedicated package-free supermarkets
My favourite is crowd-funded L'Epicerie Bio in the Neustadt neighbourhood, just across Wilhelm Kaisen bridge. Lovingly decorated in the style of an old colonial shop you would find an abundance of food, spices, sweets and wine, body care and household items here, including fresh fruits and veges and pet food by the gram. Since 2021 the shop has also been offering organic frozen food by the gram: samosas, falafel, French fries, veges, berries and more.
As you marvelled at the interior you could also buy a coffee or refreshment.
Unfortunately this will be history from around mid of October, 2023: To make ends meet the shop keeper had to find a less expensive location, and the good news is: Anne Marie is moving to the neighbourhood of Walle. The new shop will have another name, but she wouldn't tell me yet. The new shop will be smaller, offering all the food stuff as before, but only a basic set of toiletries and bodycare.
While L'Epicerie was as far as you get from the carrots-and-dungarees cliche of a traditional organic grocery of the 1970ies, the second package-free shop in the Neustadt looks exactly like a traditional Bremen organic cornerstore 2.0: The dusty shop window of Füllkorn, with some wilted potted plants makes it difficult for passers-by to even spot the place. Inside everything is spotlessly clean of course, and there's also a coffee and refreshment option. Unfortunately the shop was closed when I was there, but I'm sure it's friendly and welcoming, too. They have a milk tapping machine from the Kaemena farm.
The youngest package-free shop in town is
Die Füllerei in Findorff which opened in February 2020. With a beautiful flower-bed in front of it you cannot miss the shop even though I couldn't make it here during their opening hours. Unlike the two shops in the Neustadt there's a vending machine for fresh milk from the Blockland. Just from the looks clearly my second favourite which, in 2023, wants to turn into a co-operative. Note that the shop is closed on Wednesdays.
The tram stop "Am Schwarzen Meer", (in)famous for a fastfood-and-beer kiosk popular among the city's enthusiastic football fans has become a destination for conscious eaters: At the end of the Steintor road you'll find both, a Sunday-open package-free convenience store and a friendly CSA farm shop.
The first one, Selfair, has by far the most liberal opening hours of all package-free supermarkets I've visited so far. It's a pleasant combination of a traditional organic cornershop, a contemporary package-free supermarket and an immigrant shop with a good selection of oriental-style bread, baklava, pickles and mezze. The latter aren't organic, nor are about 3/4 of the fresh fruit and greens. However, there's an abundance of loose-weight and pre-packaged organic food items, spices, sweets, beverages and more. There's tinned food and preserved food and dairy products in glasses, and almost all beverages come in returnable bottles. They also have a section with zero-waste household items and sustainable toiletries, and in general the shop is free from plastic foil packaging. Many of the organic veges, bread and cheeses are bio-dynamic and local, and most of the conventional food is produced in the region, with little agrochemicals.
On the Northern side of the tram tracks you'll find
a small and inviting farm shop, the
Solawi-Hofladen. Despite the name it's not
only a pick-up point for the members of the community-supported organic Sophienhof farm, but a cosy farm shop run by two bio-dynamic farms, the Sophienhof and the Lütjenhof, and an artisanal fair-trade coffee roasters', all from the greater region. Needless to say that you can have a coffee after having filled local grains and pulses from gravity bins and bought meat, eggs, cheese, veges and more.
On a former parking lot inside the disused production areal of the Kelloggs company you now find an urban gardening project producing organic veges and hops in raised beds: During the warm season the
Gemuesewerft is not only a nice beergarden, but also sells fresh organic greens according to the season just a few meters from where they are harvested.
Organic corner shops and supermarkets
Package-free sale of bakery items and cheeses over the counter, loose fruit and veges as well as dairy products and drinks in returnable bottles and glasses are of course the norm in all traditional organic convenience stores like the co-operative Oecotop in the Neustadt, the Bio-Eck in Grohn with some gravity bins for unpackaged grains, or the Kornkraft supermarket in Habenhausen which offers a day cafe and is part of a small local supermarket chain.
Traditional co-operatively driven convenience stores in Bremen are all open to the general public by now, and so is Abakus in Steintor founded in 1998 which in 2020 repeatedly was voted one of Germany's best organic groceries. The shop which doesn't hide its political views doesn't have a working web site, but sells loose-weight grains and cereals. When I was there again in summer 2020 there was however an information that they wouldn't order more muesli unless the demand by members of the co-operative was bound to increase.
Body care and nice things
During the nice season Der Fährmann Antony ("Antony the ferryman") sells hand-made natural shea and cocoa butter from Ghana on a mobile booth on the Kaemena farm in Blockland. Come with your own jar, and he will happily fill it for you. The opening hours below should however be taken with a grain of salt – when the weather is too cloudy or even rainy Anthony may decide that the effort of his bicycle tour out into the Blockland wouldn't match his sales expectation. In summer 2022 there were also shortcomings as deliveries from Ghana took weeks longer than usual, and during our stay in August 2022 we met him not before 4 pm.
Out of Bremen
If you take a bicycle tour to Lilienthal (which – despite the fact that the Bremen tram no. 4 ends there –
isn't a part of Bremen, but a municipality in the adjacent state of Lower Saxony) you have even more options – check out the Lilienthal post.
[Bremen, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, bodycare, gifts, butcher, fashion, solawi, CSA]
Tuesday, 22 August 2023
If you fancy a freshly made organic ice-cream in Bremen be prepared to work out – hope for good weather, rent a bicycle and do as many locals do: Set out on a 15 kilometers ride, first in direction University, and then on the
dyke safeguarding the land against the river Wümme to a dairy farm run by friendly family Kaemena in Niederblockland.
On the embankment cars are allowed with a special permit only, but an astonishing number of locals come here by bicycle, foot or skating to enjoy an organic ice-cream (the scoop goes for 2.20 EUR in 2023), coffee or cold organic drink and enjoy the farm and the countryside.
The ice-cream is made right here on the farm: from the milking station to the ice-cream factory it's only about 25 metres, and another few metres to the cafe.
Don't miss the poppy seed ice-cream and the varieties based on buttermilk and yogurt. And please, avoid ordering your ice-cream in a one-way paper cup: for a little surplus you can have a vegan wafer cup (free for two or more scoops), compostable if you do not eat it. You may also take a free wafer ice-spoon instead of a plastics one.
Opening hours on pleasant summer days may be a little longer than announced,
and the ice-cream parlour is closed in winter.
The farm itself is driven according to the seven Bioland principles, with about 80 cows (which all have individual names) and calves who are fed by and kept together with their mothers until they eat grass and hay (which is at an age of about five weeks). The cattle race comes without horns naturally, so no harm is done to the animals in order to remove them. The farm also keeps a few other animals like geese, two pigs, a couple of goats, pheasants and chicken (both hens and cocks) and gives home to a lot of wildlife like a sparrow colony and swallows.
There's a nice playground for children, and if you want to stay longer (minimum one week) the family rents out several pleasant holiday apartments (but make sure to book well in advance for holiday seasons).
In May 2022 the Kaemenas opened a new Sunday-open ice-cream parlour cum farm shop in the Neustadt. If you don't want to have your ice-cream on the go, there's little seating, a few benches outdoor, and some high chairs inside, to have a coffee, milk-shake or a "cold" chocolate with ice-cream. The cafe participates in the Recup scheme, so make sure to have your hot or cold drink to take away in a returnable cup.
Unlike the cafe at the farm this place will keep open around the year and provide you not only with ice-cream but also with cheese, jogurt, and milk.
Starting with the covid-19 summers a stylish mobile coffee bar of the Coffee Bike franchise has been popping up in the very city centre on Ansgarikirchhof during the warm season. In addition to the fully organic coffee drinks there is a separate mobile booth with Kaemena's ice-cream. Unfortunately they do not offer neither eatable ice-cream wafers nor earthenware cups for the coffee, so you are forced to enjoy it in non-compostable one-way cups unless you bring your own.
If you are in the vicinity of the university's refectory around lunch time on a weekday visit the organic ice-cream booth inside the
Uni-Mensa: Opposite the refectory's check-out you get the scoop of organic ice-cream produced in Hamburg at an unbeatable price (1.30 EUR in 2023). They offer three dairy and even more vegan flavours (my favourite: the vegan salted peanut butter). You may pay cash or by the Studierendenwerk prepaid card.
[Bremen, Neustadt, Blockland, organic, ice-cream, cafe, accommodation, farms]
Thursday, 10 August 2023
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. To my deepest regret its Bavarian incarnation is no more (landlord cancelled contract with the coffee roastery), but
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.
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: At Max-Weber-Platz you'll find
Épique Raw, a fully organic Munich patisserie. A very serious Italian-style coffee aside (the beans are collected in the wild) watch trams, cyclists and pedestrians (well, and cars, unfortunately) passing by. They also offer banana bread and croissants.
The cafe is part of a predominantly organic eatery Greens & Grains:
Both counters are self-serviced and don't allow anonymous payments, only cards.
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.
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: The once dominating franchise San Francisco Coffee Company filed for bankruptcy during the covid-19 pandemics and does no longer have stores in Munich. Black Bean never expanded and survived, and Coffee Fellows is now ubiquitous, serving coffee at (among others) fuel and train stations.
Once booming MyMuesli chain, a German web order shop for organic cereals and porridges with offline branches throughout the German-speaking countries also had to close a lot of its shops after
a rapid, unhealthy expansion strategy.
On the Eastern edge of Viktualienmarkt, a few steps from Marienplatz you'll still 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).
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.
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
- Contains Coffee, Celibidacheforum
- Echt jetzt, Barer Str. 48 (web shop remaining)
- Emilo im Glockenbach, Buttermelcherstr. 5
- Emilo Westend, Gollierstr. 14
- 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, Innere Wiener Str. 57
- 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]
Sunday, 30 July 2023
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 2.50 EUR in 2023, 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 2023 went for two euros quit 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 2023 goes for 2.30 €. 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]