Sunday, 24 February 2019
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.
My favourite is Cafe Reichshof in Haidhausen, covered in detail in my ice-cream post.
Organic to a much lesser degree – they promise to serve organic milk and eggs throughout their menu, i.e. also as ingredients in drinks, cakes and dishes – is Kafehaus Karameel in Neuhausen, opposite the terminal loop near tram stop Neuhausen. Romantically decorated on two storeys connected by a flight of winding stairs it's the perfect place to have a look at their impressive selection of daily newspapers, let time pass by and have a Viennese-style coffee. Crowded on weekends, so book your table in advance. During the warm season a generous number of outdoor tables overlooking the tram tracks and a little park will increase your chances.
Oriental style coffee
The best Turkish coffee in town is arguably made on Orleansplatz in Haidhausen. Iunu is a perfect place to meet a friend for a chat or have a recreational coffee break including a chat with the friendly owner (she also serves espresso, cappuccino, and latte). Some of the coffee, the milk and a few staples like agave syrup are organic, but she is using fewer organic ingredients now than in the past, especially the veges for the vegetarian and ayurvedic lunch usually are no longer organic. With a small but carefully chosen range of delicatessen the place will also save you when in need for an unplanned last minute gift. On Saturdays Iunu is often unexpectedly closed due to arrangements, so check in advance.
If you happen to come in vain, take the short walk along Breisacher Straße where another hidden gem, Saladins Souk will quench your thirst for an oriental style coffee.
Italian style bars
Pop in, have a coffee, a chat, a sweet, and pop out again – the Italian bar is the hotspot of a neighbourhood. And so is the Emilo coffee bar in the self-proclaimed Northern-most city of Italy, run by a small scale local coffee roaster of the same name. Though it is situated only a little walk from Isartor or party hotspot Gärtnerplatz in the hip Glockenbach neighbourhood it's mainly frequented by regulars whom the barista, Mr. Filser with his rustic Bavarian charme greets personally. Since only a selection of their coffees is organic you may wish to order organic coffees explicitely. They use organic milk throughout the menu, and the eggs and spelt flour used in their rustic and extremely yummy Bavarian home-made cakes are all organic, too (the only exception are the croissants made by a French bakery). Apart from Italian style coffee drinks you can also order cold brews and shop from the roasters coffee specialities. An insider's tip all worth the detour from your usual route through the city. Recently they also opened a new branch in Munich's Westend -- an important destination for all Oktoberfest visitors.
In the middle of humming Viktualienmarkt market North of the crossing Reichenbachstraße/Frauenstraße there's Kaffeerösterei Viktualienmarkt, a vibrant market booth with bar tables under a roof. So even if the weather is bad and you're outside there's no reason to give up plans for an Italian style coffee drink made with sustainably sourced (though not organically certified), locally roasted coffee. The milk is organic and comes from traditionally working mountain farms in the Berchtesgadener Land district, packaged by the co-operatively driven Berchtesgadener Land dairy which, in 2017, banned the use of glyphosate for all its farmers, not only the organic ones.
(Almost) fully organic
If all you want is a place where you do not have to fine-read the menu to pick out the organic items your options are limited to the afore mentioned Café Reichshof, the Iss dich glücklich eatery nearby (both places are located near tram stop "Wörthstraße") -- and to Café Josefina in the legendary neighbourhood of Schwabing with its bohemian past, a few steps from tube stop Josephsplatz.
A cosy day cafe serving Italian-style coffee drinks made with real milk or a number of plant-based alternatives it's not only worth a coffee but also a lunch break. Although nearly all ingredients are organic there are a few exceptions when it comes to the cold cuts used in Italian-style sandwiches. As early as half past seven the place starts serving both, vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore breakfast on weekdays, and since it is quite small it's advisable to reserve a table if you plan to step by on a weekend.
Shabby chic and homely places
You might expect this type of recycled art garden house furnished place in the university quarters, but here you are on Rosenheimer Platz, opposite the Vollcorner supermarket, to find Die Kaffee-Küche. A pleasantly mixed audience populates the chairs, tables and shelves partially made of wooden wine cases, and you may find that the place is popular among young mothers with prams. They use organic milk and partially organic coffee by a local coffee roaster, and before ordering a coffee drink to take away in a disposable beaker consider buying a bio-degradable dishwasher-prove multitrip cup right away. If you come with your own cup to take away your coffee or tea you will receive a discount of 0.50 EUR. On the menu are home-made cakes, sandwiches, salads and a soup dish, most of them suffering from the absence of organic ingredients. A generally nice retreat, especially recommended during the advent season while the Christmas market on Weißenburger Platz keeps open. (Their mulled wine and other warm alcoholic drinks are of superior quality when compared to the market booth fare.) Occasionally there are small concerts. Another nice service: The ladies' restroom will help you out with (conventional) hairspray, handcream, tampons and other toiletries if needed.
A smaller cafe run as a social enterprise is just a five minutes walk away (although you have to cross busy Rosenheimer Straße): Cafe Plaisir moved next door to a bigger and lighter venue in 2018 -- and stopped using organic ingredients for their home-made ice-cream, chocolates, cakes and cookies. Still, tea and coffee drinks and a few more items are marked on the menu with a little heart denoting organic, and eggs -- where marked -- come from organic farms raising both, the hens and their cockerel brothers. Be patient and kind if the serving personnel does not respond immediately -- the shop is a social enterprise run by longterm-unemployed persons.
On your way from "Kaffee-Küche" to "Cafe Plaisir" directly located on Rosenheimer Straße is Emmi's kitchen, a small, decidedly vegetarian place offering smoothies, salads, stews and soups, coffee drinks and cake with a focus on locally sourced, predominantly vegan food. They use organic milk and brown sugar. More organic ingredients may be hidden (the apple used to decorate the yummy still warm vegan cinnamon roll I had was organic), but they won't promise anything. The place opened in summer 2016 and still is a hidden gem where you will easily find a place to sit down, read or work – more demanding customers may encourage a stricter organic focus. Since the cafe is directly facing the noisy and highly polluted street you may prefer a visit on cold days when the door usually is closed. The owners are still experimenting with their opening hours, so even though they advertise evening opening hours until 20 pm you might find the place closed earlier, especially on Saturdays. If you order by Deliveroo or come to take away without your own food container they fill your meal into disposable containers made from sustainable or recycled resources.
Not far from Ostbahnhof station Kosy*s cafe promises to be "your second living room". As long as you have some tolerance towards cake stands filled with kitschy sweets guaranteed free from natural colourings and a decidedly vintage feel you can have an organic tea or soft drink, a coffee drink made with organic milk, organic eggs and cereals for breakfast or a hearty lunch often entirely made from organic ingredients in a leisurely atmosphere. The good thing is that organic ingredients aren't shamefully hidden – when it's organic they'll make it transparent on the menu. The bad news: their homemade cakes unfortunately are not organic, not even the eggs.
Another cosy living room dubbed Zimtzicke is tucked away in comparatively quiet Elsässer Straße, this also just a five minutes walk from Ostbahnhof. All their teas, coffees, the milk and eggs are organic. Their lunch dishes, although mainly not organic, are tasty. However, when I enquired about the ingredients of the individual dishes on the menu, the staff wasn't able to tell whether they contained organic ingredients. The tiny place smells lovely of home-make cakes, some of them vegan. A perfect location to warm up after a winter walk in the city, and a pleasant retreat to welcome spring or to enjoy a summer day in the city on a table in front of it.
Another option to mingle with natives is a homely shabby chic neighbourhood cafe cum gallery in the neighbourhood of Au, on the Eastern shore of river Isar near Deutsches Theater. The audience of Café Käthe is mixed, coffee, milk, tea, rolls and cakes as well as most of the softdrinks are organic. They don't serve hot food, but you can have breakfast, sandwiches, cereals, and salads all day. Many but not all ingredients are organic, so ask if you care but be prepared that the service personnel isn't prepared to answer on the spot. Summer-closed until September, 6th 2018.
Big enough to almost guarantee a free seat for the visitor-by-chance is Cafe Katzentempel in the Maxvorstadt university quarter. You must however not suffer from a cat allergy as this rather special vegan place is inhabitated by six cats, and the once nice wallpaper on the wall with the scratch pole facing the entrance has already become rather shabby. Most of the softdrinks are organic as are all soy products and the cow milk (on request used for non-vegan coffee and tea-based drinks). The place offers an impressive range of organic nuts and grain milks to be ordered for your latte. The food and home-made cakes may include additional organic ingredients, although they aren't generally organic, just of local origin if possible. Students and apprentices are entitled special prices Tuesday through Friday, and free wifi is available. Depending on your table you may find the slightly aggressive sales presentation of the Katzentempel brand t-shirts disturbing – overall a place to either love or detest.
Another, for my likings cosier place to have a vegan latte is Siggis near Isartor which I reviewed here.
Muesli and more
On the Eastern edge of Viktualienmarkt, a few steps from Marienplatz you'll find the Munich branch of a very special chain – MyMuesli, a web order shop for organic cereals and porridges which keeps opening offline branches throughout the German-speaking countries. No cakes to be had here but Italian style coffee drinks, juices, and of course mueslis, porridges and cereals in case you are a little hungry or in need for an organic breakfast. The major aim of the shop is of course to sell their products but for a quick WLAN or coffee break in the busy heart of the city the functionally styled place isn't a bad option. They also have a second shop (though without cafe) on ground floor of the Olympia-Einkaufszentrum mall.
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.
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
[Munich, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Schwabing, Westend, organic, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, vegan, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant, Italian, Japanese]
Wednesday, 13 February 2019
Organic supermarkets may introduce a larger audience to sustainable organic produce and thus spare the environment, but do not necessarily help to reduce the amount of one-way packaging, save plastics. As a conscious consumer you will without doubt prefer non-prepackaged fruit and veges, available from all organic groceries, supermarkets and market boothes, and hand your bag over the bakery counter, making it verbally clear that you do not need a paper bag, to avoid paper waste when buying bread and rolls.
You're also safe if you restrict your shopping of dairy products, juices and soft drinks to returnable glass bottles. Some organic shops (such as Vollcorner) offer a small selection of wine in deposit bottles.
Starting in 2017 the more dedicated organic supermarket chains have been introducing measures to reduce packaging and allow customers to bring their own containers to fill with selected goods.
Unless stated otherwise all shops mentioned in this post will help you out with clean and empty reusable glass jars or organic cotton bags which you -- depending on the shop -- can either buy or lend if you forgot to bring your own.
Farewell to plastics
The zero-waste pioneer in town is Naturlieferant, usually referred to as Plastikfreie Zone, a pleasant intimate shop in Haidhausen near Max-Weber-Platz where you won't find any plastic item but a lot of sustainable alternatives. The focus of the shop is an ever increasing range of sustainable household items, ranging from tooth brushes and toilet paper to glasses, lunch boxes and jute strings, but you may also shop a selection of food items like potatoes, pulses, nuts, flour, jelly-gums or the best Indian pepper in town. If you forget to bring your own jars your purchase will be packed in paper bags, or you can choose from re-used glass containers for free. You may also refill washing-up liquid, shampoo and liquid laundry detergent.
February 20th, 2016 the city's first zero-waste supermarket Ohne ("without") opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Maxvorstadt. Pleasantly furnished with wooden benches and self-made dispensers this modern version of a generously spaced mom-and-pop store
gives you a pleasant vacation from brands and logos.
It is offering bread, rolls and sweet pastries
from a local artisanal bakery, dairy products and vegan alternatives in returnable bottles, a small selection of fresh fruit and greens, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, locally distilled gin, vodka and bitter, oil, toothpaste tablets and assorted solid shampoos and soap bars. There are also refill stations for washing detergents, cleansers and liquid hair and body washes, and you can shop from an ever increasing range of household and bodycare products (including environment-friendly condoms which are the only items in shop prepackaged in non-reusable wrapping). Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers.
Your shopping starts by measuring the weight of your glasses, boxes and bags on the scales next to the entrance door. Now you can fill them from the dispensers and finally pay by net weight.
This crowd-funded supermarket is strictly organic and vegetarian. When the shop is crowded waiting time at the till is a little longer than you might expect, but take your time and have a coffee and home-made cake in the small cafe corner. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am.
Inhabitants and passers-by in the neighbourhood of Haidhausen will be happy to learn that a second branch opened January 23, 2019 a few steps from Rosenheimer Platz S-Bahn station. This shop is also equipped with a proper espresso machine, but does neither offer lunch nor fresh fruit and veges. For the time being there's also no refill for liquid shampoos. In return the clean and pleasantly light shop keeps open longer on saturday evenings.
Supermarket chains to follow
In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner
supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill their customers' jars and boxes with
cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake.
The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, and independent convenience stores often have done so anyway. So take appropriate containers with you when you go out to shop for food.
To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box 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. So you'll better find an artisanal organic butcher's shop or your nearest Herrmannsdorfer grocery to buy meat in your own box, e.g. the one on Max-Weber-Platz. Here you will also be rewarded with a 4 cents discount per saved packaging.
At Basic self-service cafes you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme. Dispensers reliably offering a selection of pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, and grains can be found in all branches I've visited so far, but the number of goods may vary from basic to covering most of your store cupboard except for dried herbs and spices, coffee and tea. Basic supermarkets selling toiletries and household chemicals (e.g. Basic Bogenhausen) may have dispensers for detergents of the eco-friendly Sodasan brand as well as for shampoo and shower gel. These dispensers allow only to refill the standard volumes the choosen detergent is sold by when pre-bottled, i.e. you cannot refill smaller than the original bottles. So make sure you have at minimum a 1 l or 2 l bottle with you (500 ml for shampoos). If not refilling original bottles take one of the empty bottles from the shelf and scan its label before tapping to your own bottle.
To buy dry goods the procedure varies from branch to branch: By now most of the Basic branches have prominently placed scales where you
measure the tax weight of your containers before filling them. The scales will print out a receipt which you must hand in at the cash desk for tax weight detraction.
Some branches may still follow the scheme formerly employed at the one near Isartor where you were expected to fill provided scaled measuring jugs from the dry-goods dispensers, pay, and refill the content into the packaging you brought along (which was quite tricky as funnels were not provided). In this case
you were not allowed to use your own containers for loose-weight dried fruit from the cardbox displays in the green-grocery section.
Some Basic branches like the Basic Bogenhausen also allow you to refill frying and salad oils and offer freshly ground nut butters.
For refilling fresh milk from the grass-fed cows of the Nirschlhof farm in nearby Grafing take your milk bottles to the recently opened Vollcorner supermarket near Theresienwiese which also has a butcher's counter and a lunch cafe. It's the same milk as used in True&12 ice-cream.
Neighbourhood groceries and farmers' markets
In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery offers to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, olive oil, jelly gums and liquorice -- only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes you bring along. Ask for a deposit box (1 or 3 EUR according to size) in case you forgot to bring your own, and make sure to return it thoroughly cleaned. When buying eggs don't forget your own container as there will be a small surplus for a cardboard one filled on the counter. Also for the olive oil refill you must bring a clean bottle yourself (but you have to wait for it until autumn 2018 since the 2017 harvest has been sold out).
Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing.
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 you may be surprised to see that you're not the only one coming with her own boxes and jars. On Saturdays mornings you can find them next to the West-facing entry of Mariahilf church, in the neighbourhood of Au where all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, are organic. If you feel adventurous on Thursday afternoons take the urban train S7 in direction Aying/Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn/Kreuzstraße (or a bike ride) to the suburb of Neubiberg and pay a visit to the communal organic market on the pleasant premises of the Umweltgarten eco park, a true oasis within ugly suburbanity, with a small zoo, popular not only among kids. On Thursdays there's also an all-day market at Rotkreuzplatz. As on Mariahilfsplatz about half the boothes here are organic, though scattered all over the market area, with a cluster in direction Nymphenburger Straße.
Artisanal bakeries and butchers
Meat lovers will be happy to learn that Munich, the home of Weißwurst sausages and Leberkäse, still has an independent family-run organic butcher's shop: The Biometzgerei Pichler in Haidhausen does not only offer these Munich specialities to buy home or to eat on the spot but will happily fill your boxes with all kinds of meat cuts, sausages, cured and processed meat (both, German and Italian style), including tongues, ox tails, offal and other low-graded parts of the slaughtered animals, allowing you to follow the nose-to-tail principle. They also have a proper cheese counter and offer lunch on weekdays. If you are in the Maxvorstadt, the Pichler family also runs the meat counter within the Landmann's supermarket which offers lunch items to take away and often has pickled herrings and other traditional German fish preserves.
At the Munich branch of the Dachau-based family-run organic bakery Gürtner opposite the Lebascha grocery mentioned above in Haidhausen the staff is also used to fill cakes, rolls and bread into boxes or bags handed over the counter. They mill the flour slowly using a Zentrofan wholefood mill resulting in wholemeal croissants tasting fresher and almost as light as those baked with white flour. If you come here for an organic coffee or lunch break don't expect wonders from the automatic coffee machine and insist on using your mug if you order coffee to take along. For lunch the bakery offers readily prepared sandwiches or "Butterbrezn" (buttered pretzl). There's another Gürtner branch on the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt near the Pasing train station.
Coffee to take away
Most cafes serving organic coffee are sufficiently aware of the coffee beaker waste issue that they will fill your own cup without hesitation. Some like Die Kaffee-Küche and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a discount for sparing the environment. There is an increasing number taking part in the recup.com retour scheme, among others the Neulinger bakeries or Siggis coffee bar and restaurant.
[Munich, Neubiberg, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, bakeries, butcher]
Thursday, 24 January 2019
For (re-)filling your kitchen cupboard and shop for un(pre)packaged food head straight to the northern shore of the Neckar river, to the Neuenheimer Markt market place. On Wednesday mornings (until 1 pm) a farmer's market is held here, but a few steps
you will also find the city's only package-free supermarket dubbed Annas Unverpacktes ("Anna's unwrapped goods") which with its outer wall made of turquoise tiles looks like a converted butcher's shop from the outside. As all zero waste convenience stores I've come across so far it's strictly vegetarian, but omnivores simply walk outside and turn left to find an artisanal butcher's shop at the next corner.
Until some years ago the Metzgerei Blatt was working according to the Neuland principles of animal welfare in meat production which are close to, but not fully organic, and in 2015 turned to fully organic principles. The shop was closed when I went there (as it's generally closed on Wednesday afternoons), but the owner assured me that the staff would fill my purchase into my own clean boxes as long as they were intended for personal consumation (instead of catering a bigger crowd). Ready-to-eat meat dishes are also available to take away.
Directly opposite the Neuenburger Markt there's also a shop of the local wholefood bakery Mahlzahn named after the dragon in Michael Ende's famous children's novel "Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver". Here the shop assistants will happily put your bread, rolls, sweet and savoury pastries into the bags or containers you present.
The bakery workshop itself is located in the Weststadt neighbourhood where you also can buy a small selection of loose-weight seasonal fruit and veges and assorted pre-packaged organic food items to supplement your breakfast, lunch or coffee table. When I went there in hope for an early organic breakfast it however turned out that this bakery doesn't follow the zeitgeist to serve coffee and snacks to eat on the spot everywhere -- no coffee machine here, no bar tables. (The rolls were delicious nevertheless.)
Mind you that this bakery does not use white flour at all.
Altogether there are four Mahlzahn shops, all with identical opening hours, the third one located in the neighbourhood of Rohrbach, and the fourth in Handschuhsheim (literally: "glove's home").
To buy all items for a zero waste breakfast at one stop head for the city's branch of the Denn's organic supermarket chain: The staff at its meat, dairy and bakery counters offers to fill cheese, cured meat products, sausages and bakery items the into your own containers. If you buy a coffee drink on the go in your own cup you'll receive a 30 cents discount, and you can also buy lunch to take away in your own jars instead of having it at the self-service bistro.
More to try
Here are a few more shops which I found during my research but didn't manage to visit myself:
You may still find references to the following organic grocery on the web, but be assured it's no longer there:
[Heidelberg, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, butcher]
Thursday, 20 December 2018
Eating out organic in Mannheim is different than in other cities: First it means vegetarian and vegan-friendly (almost) without exceptions. Second there seem to be no places serving national kitchens -- no German Wirtshaus, no French cuisine, no Turkish fastfood and not even a mock Italian place. And finally organic here means organic for everyone, not just for a wealthy, hip and urban clientele. As a result you may miss cleverly designed cool places as much as refined coffeehouses or classy gourmet restaurants. The good news is that Mannheim's organic restaurants and cafes are extremely affordable.
For breakfast (or a snack or coffee during the day) head for Bio-Bäcker Bihn on the ground floor of the Stadthaus housing the city library and other communal facilities and staging the city's part of the Mannheim/Heidelberg International Film Festival. Enter the complex from the north-eastern entry facing Paradeplatz, and you'll find the unpretentious bakery cum self-service cafe at the right hand site.
The breakfast options served on work- and Saturdays until noon are sufficient for two not too hungry ones; you can choose from a menu which also boosts three vegan varieties or combine yourself. Coffee or tea on the go is possible, but you should rather bring your own refillable cup (or buy one on the spot) as a one-way paper beaker righteously will be charged with 25 cents. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays freshly prepared sandwiches can be had at 3,90€ each; Tuesdays are (non-veg) hot-dog days where the hot dog goes at 2.50 €. The coffee comes from an automat, and the rather cheap-looking interior design maintains a low threshold. If you come with a family or friends pay together which will give you a small discount (10% above 20 €, 12% above 30 € and 15 percent of a total above 50€).
100 percent organic wholefood is being served at the Hellers self-service restaurant next to the organic Alnatura supermarket on the Kaiserring ringway from the main train station to the Wasserturm landmark. Take a tray and a plate, fill it from the various stations offering salads, mueslis, soups and warm dishes, proceed to the cash counter and find a place in the winter-garden like dining hall. During the busy lunch hours (usually between noon and 2 pm) there's also a separate station offering a pan-fried dish of the day in small or regular size. It's located next to the entrance and you also have to pay there. The food follows the principles of health food, seasonal and low in spices (the "hot" rice dish I had was rather bland).
At the entrance to the sitting area there's a coffee and cake bar also serving ice-cream (1.50 € the scoop).
The cake at around 3 € the piece and the coffee drinks compensate for the rather low lunch prices: 4.15 € for a large (that is: what elsewhere would be regular sized) latte and 2.50 € for a small espresso from a coffee dispenser is more than you'd pay in much more pricey cities.
The audience is quite different than in organic restaurants you may be used to: a lot of elderly people meet here for lunch and coffee.
Unfortunately the place doesn't serve breakfast -- the
kitchen opens half an hour after the cafe opens and closes one hour (on Sundays and public holidays two hours) before closing time. Also good to know: The soap dispenser in the bathroom contains organic handwash.
The hippest and most expensive place I found is the Rohkosteria in Lindenhof south of the railway tracks. This 100 percent organic raw and vegan restaurant opened in lieu of the former
"Bio-Stadel" eatery and uses preferably
biodynamic ingredients. What you get here:
salads, soups, burgers, wraps, falafel, vegetable "pasta", smoothies, shots, cakes and cookies -- no high-end raw gourmet food, rather driven by health ideology than made for connoisseurs: My zucchini spaghetti seemed to come right from the fridge which gave the otherwise tasty mock-bolognese style dish an unpleasant imbalance.
Although the place is open in the evenings no alcohol is being served here -- even the beer and wine is non-alcoholic.
The pleasantly designed interior and the unexcited atmosphere however make it an ideal place to stay for a while.
Note that the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays, a recent change which -- at the time of writing -- hadn't made it to their website yet.
For an organic coffee, spritzer (of fruit juice and sparkling water) or wine head for the north-western neighbourhood of Jungbusch. The vegetarian, vegan-friendly gastro pub Kombüse serves Mexican-style fastfood as well as a daily changing soup and main course, on availability (but not reliably) using organic veges. It keeps open until late and may give you an impression of the city's subculture. The place also offers a take away service, but kindly invites guests to bring their own re-usable cups and jars. You will be charged the extra expense if you insist on one-way packaging.
Bicycle lovers must not miss out the city's first bike cafe in the Neckarstadt north of the river Neckar. The
Café Flamme Rouge (dubbed after the red flag displayed one kilometer before the end of a bike race) was established in 2005 and serves
organic bread and rolls from the
Lummerland organic bakery with biodynamic vegetarian spreads, partially organic coffee, home-made pesto, pancakes and a lunch dish (the menu changes on Mondays and Thursdays).
More to try
I had two more places on my research list but did not have time to make it there. Here they are:
No longer organic
The Wohnhunger gifts and things shop does no longer offer organic soups or stews for lunch, and does not use organic milk for their coffee drinks. The coffee itself may occasionally be organic (as they also sell organic beans) but usually isn't.
Of the following places you may find remnants on the web but be assured: They do no longer exist.
- Café Vogelfrei, C 3, 20
- O’ Dog Café, M 5, 8 (Hot dogs)
- Veggie-Stadel (formerly Bio-Stadel), Lindenhofstr. 62 replaced by Rohkosteria
- mundgrün veganerie, T3, 7 (vegan) (preceeded by Sonnenblume Naturkost)
- Bio-Bäcker Bihn, M3 7(moved to Stadthaus)
- Bio-Bäcker Bihn, Kurfürstenstr. 7
- envita Bio-Restaurant, Im Stadthaus N1, 1 (replaced by organic bakery Bihn)
[Mannheim, organic, breakfast, lunch, coffee, cafe, eatery, vegan, vegetarian, restaurant, bakeries, ice-cream]
Sunday, 18 November 2018
The easiest way to get around in Heidelberg is by bicycle, and whether you need to repair your own bike, to rent or to buy (a cheap) one, you can do this right on arrival at the main train station: Follow the signs to the exit and descend the stairs at the right hand (eastern) side to track 1b. Here, in rather unpolished surroundings you'll find the Radhof bike repair shop, a socially responsible enterprise which will happily help you. To rent the bike at 15 EUR/day present your ID card or passport, hand them your mobile number and a deposit of 50 EUR, and off you go with a well-kept second hand bike. On return you will not only get your deposit back but also the paper copy taken from your ID. Unfortunately the workshop is closed on weekends.
Cocooning and body care
As a tourist you will most certainly head for the old town, walking down the Hauptstraße ("main street") pedestrian street. While the western part of this street is inhabited by the ever-boring major chains, the eastern part with its small-scale owner-run shops is definitely worth a shopping spree, preferably to enterprises striving to sell sustainable, often fairly traded goods. Looking for dedicated environment-friendly kitchen and bathroom utensils, toys, fashion accessories, stationary, gifts or design items you must not miss out the green design department store
GOODsHOUSE a little west of Schiffsgasse. The shop itself isn't visible from the main street -- walk down a little aisle into the backyard to find a lovingly arranged two-storey shopping paradise. The staff is friendly and helpful, yet not intrusive and will happily offer to order items not in stock.
A few steps further west, at the corner with Heumarkt an equally carefully designed cosmetics boutique dubbed Wolkenseifen ("cloud soaps") is the flagship store of a local near-natural cosmetics manufacturer. In addition you'll find
(certified) organic and natural cosmetics brands usually not to be found in your nearest organic supermarket -- among them Chia, Madara, or Khadi --, and a great selection of zero waste body care like hair and body soaps, solid shampoos or solid toothpaste.
Shoes and fashion
Fair and slow fashion seems to be quite strong in Heidelberg where even otherwise conventional clothes boutiques like
Bofinger in the main street trade in fair and organic labels like Armedangels. My stay was too short to pay a visit to all the places on my short list, but I managed to have a glimpse inside
Tutta Natura selling sustainably produced French shoes and women's clothes for lovers of classic eco-design in the Plöck running parallel with the main street.
A larger selection of natural shoes is to be found at Die Ahle Naturschuhe which can easily be missed with its modest shop-window front hiding a pleasant shoe shop in Sankt-Anna-Gasse linking Plöck and Hauptstraße at the western-most border of the old town. During the cold season you may also step by for knitted organic head and foot wear and other woolen accessories.
If you prefer German sculptural shoe design to French elegance Heidelberg also has a shop of the sustainably and socially responsibly producing Berlin-based shoe manufacturer Trippen. Their carefully designed store can be found at Heumarkt.
November 2018 sae the re-opening of former fair fashion store cum cafe Friedrich as a Glore concept store offering organic fashion for all, women, men and kids as well as a small selection of organic body care.
Fair trade shops
Unsurprising Heidelberg is home to a number of community-driven one-world shops selling fairly traded fashion accessories, household items, dry food, sweets, coffee and tea, the latter often certified organic. One of them is Una Tierra at the market place Neuenheim, another one
the Weltladen in the old town with a small cafe, offering fairly traded coffee drinks, cocoa or tea while you crawl the shop or let you inspire by the bookshelf.
More to try
Here's a list of shops which I had on my list for research but didn't manage to visit myself. Let me know about your experience!
[Heidelberg, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, spices, herbs, delicatessen, gifts, upcycling, bodycare, coffee, cafe, cycling, shoes]