Wednesday, 21 February 2024
If you are familiar with Johann Sebastian Bach's Coffee Cantata from around 1735 you've heard about the Saxonian citoyens' love for coffee and a good piece of cake (if heading for a local speciality, try the Eierschecke cheese-cake). With a pinch of irony people will talk about the famous Saxonian "Bliemschenkaffee" ("(little) flower coffee") referring to the thin coffee or caffeine-free coffee substitute during World War II or in the households of the poor. The term refers to the fact that you could see the flowery ornaments on the ground of the (well, not in all cases) Dresden china coffee cup.
The Saxonian's love for coffee hasn't faded since, they still proudly refer to themselves as "Kaffeesachsen" (coffee Saxonians), and most organic supermarkets will serve you a latte or Italian style coffee, both to have on the spot, and to go (in this case don't forget your refillable cup).
There are however more pleasant places for a chat with friends, some reading or working time with a delicious cup of coffee.
My favourite day cafe for about seven years, with friendly service and a huge display of gorgeous cakes and pastries, Die Kuchenglocke in Wilheminian Neustadt unfortunately closed in summer 2022. Run by the son of
Dresden's first (and to my knowledge only) organic bakers and one of the first organic ice-cream makers in Germany it revived the
tradition of Viennese style coffeehouses in the city. In 2022 he took over the
Heller bakery, and the cafe had to close. In March, 2023 it re-opened as Café Glocke, and apart from the interior decoration, not much has changed: You can still/again have (and buy to take out) cakes and coffee, and have gorgeous fully organic breakfast(all day long) and lunch. When the weather is nice take the chance to sit outside at the beautiful, comparatively quiet square around Martin Luther church.
The price for a (vegetarian) breakfast, sweet with pancakes or a croissant, savoury e.g. with hummus, roasted veges, bulgur and other spreads, is around 20 EUR but since the servings (especially of the savoury types) are quite generous, you may decide to share as long as you're not on your own.
On weekends it is advisable to order a table in advance as the place usually is quite crowded at that time.
The bad news: Effective February 2024 the place stopped accepting cash. Since the Oswaldz cafes have never been accepting payments without data tracking, the number of non-discriminatory organic breakfast and lunch places with a sense for data privacy are alarmingly diminishing in town.
Not far away, on Bautzner Straße, you will find Phoenix Kaffeerösterei, a small-scale coffee roaster cum coffee bar furnished in coffee-coloured wood – ideal for the recreational sip of Italian style coffee. Their coffee is fairly traded, yet not organically certified, although they had organic coffee when they started up in 2006. The milk for a latte or New Zealand style Flat White however is organic. Mind you that their opening hours are quite restricted, usually to Fridays and Saturdays, but they often keep closed on Saturdays, too.
A ten minutes walk west, just before you reach Albert-Platz you can taste the Phoenix coffee all week long at the Oswaldz, a crowded coffee house cum gallery run by an ambitious young team. Before you sit down fetch a service number and put your order at the bar where you can choose from an impressive list of coffee drinks, among others a galao (coffee and milk frozzed together) or a gibraltar (double espresso macchiato). The milk they use is locally sourced and organic. You can also have a sandwich or cake partially made from organic ingredients – eggs and cottage cheese are organic, flour and fruit are not, and since the friendly staff happily answered my questions I'm sure they will equally friendly answer yours. During the warm season they open a pleasant backyard for their guests.
In 2023 Oswaldz rented a second shop next door and turned it into
serviced Oswaldz Breakfast Place.
All food for both, the cafe and the breakfast restaurant are prepared in its open kitchen while the coffee drinks are made by the baristas at the cafe. The menu is the same for both places as is the privacy-unfriendly decision to refuse payments in cash.
During the warm season there's a third Oswaldz place, the
Os2 – Café am Fluss.
Unfortunately there's no organic coffee place inside the Bahnhof Neustadt railway station, but if you have sufficient time you may leave the station building at the rear (Northern) entrance and head for the friendly self-service cafe cum bistro of the VG supermarket Friedensstraße for both, breakfast, lunch (try the hearty Soljanka soup if available), a snack, coffee or travel provisions.
Facing Kreuzkirche on Altmarkt with its white-washed interior one of the few places where the wounds of the Anglo-American bombing by the end of World War II still are visible you will find one of Dresden's first organically certified eating places, cafe cum restaurant Aha. Some years ago they quite controversely decided not to prolong their certification in support of uncertified local farmers following organic or near-organic principles. More than 75 percent of the ingredients they use are still organically certified but they stopped (probably enforced by law) to make this transparent, so you have to enquire on specific ingredients if you care.
The cafe itself is equally popular among students, families and NGO groups. Its walls frequently serve as a gallery for local artists, and the daily menu often reflects and extends the exhibitions. The list of coffee drinks is long, ranging from oriental and Indian inspired spiced coffee to the ubiquitous espresso. If you prefer a cold drink it's alleviating to know that sodas are served with paper instead of plastic drinking straws. The cakes are delivered by the Heller family, but you can also enjoy hearty home-made meals throughout the day (til late), or simply help yourself at the salad bar located under the stairs. Breakfast is being served from 9 am. In the basement there's a well assorted
which cannot follow the restaurant's liberal opening hours and is closed in the evenings and on Sundays.
If you have to spent time in the vicinity of Dresden's central train station, Hauptbahnhof, pay a visit to another fair-trade shop, the Contigo at the Southern end of Prager Straße. Inside the shop there's an organic coffee bar, perfectly suited for the quick espresso in between, or while you're shopping for gifts, fairly traded artisanal work like bags and jewellery, tea, chocolates or coffee. They do not serve food, so you shouldn't come hungry. If you prefer an unconventional coffee drink opt a coffee based lemonade dubbed "Selosoda".
When the Contigo store is closed ignore the Starbucks branch at Wiener Platz and turn
instead to the
Haferkater porridge cafe facing it. The Berlin-based franchise concept can be found in several German main train stations by now, and the one in Dresden is open on weekends and generally until 8pm. While all prepackaged Haferkater products are organic no promise is made when it comes to the fresh food and drinks, so you'd better ask. Also, ask for returnable cups and bowls if you don't bring your own.
Not far from Bahnhof Mitte train station and the College of Music the organic co-operative VG runs a self-service Bistro & Backladen – the bistro to the left, the cafe to the right of the entrance. While the lunch is prepared in the open kitchen of the bistro right at the spot, the bakery shop simply sells the cakes (and bread) from local organic bakeries both, to take away and to eat right here in the pleasantly decorated shop room prided with pictures of local artists. Unfortunately the coffee comes from a smale-scale automatic machine – no real enjoyment, but drinkable due to the good ingredients.
While the bistro closes at 7pm on weekdays the cafe operates until 8 pm, but choice will be limited the later you'll come.
Near the Blaues Wunder bridge
A visit to the finest bridge in town, the Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") steel construction can easily be combined with a visit to the arguably finest Viennese-style coffee house in town, the Café Toscana. Observing the bridge and the river you can sit in the winter garden having an organic coffee drink or tea. Your organic latte will be poured together at your table. While a selection of soft drinks and wines, the milk and breakfast eggs are all organic none of the gorgeously looking cakes and confectionery to be ordered from the sales desk are, at least not fully (enquire about what's tempting you). The history of the coffee house named after a Saxon princess customer dates back to the end of the 19th century. Since its re-privatisation after Germany's re-unification it has been run by the Eisold family, a local baker's family now in its third generation.
Crossing the blue wonder bridge you'll reach Körnerplatz, and if you fancy a stroll along the river shore, turn left into historical Körnerweg which leads you towards the city centre along the embankment. A 15 minutes walk on the way you'll find Os2 – Café am Fluss, a summer cafe run by the Oswaldz owners serving coffee drinks with organic milk, organic soft drinks and cakes to passers-by on weekends during the nice season. Most seats are located outside providing a beautiful view over the river and the city's silhouette. As at Oswaldz order at the bar inside, find yourself a seat, wait to be served and pay before you leave. The bar room also serves as an art gallery.
If you ever happen to strand somewhere between the tower blocks of Prohlis and the Technical University, take the time to visit the city's only organic bakery and confectionery, the Bio-Bäckerei und -Konditorei Heller mentioned afore – if only to have a wonderful ice-cream on the go. When the weather is nice they also have a small outdoor terrace for you to have a coffee and cake or snack.
Although the bakery is open on Sunday mornings it's closed on public holidays.
Closed or no longer offering organic options
The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:
[Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant, confectioners]
Dresden's Wilhelminian neighbourhood of Neustadt is dominated by independent shops and venues, many of them run by female entrepreneurs as documented by an art project of local photographer Christine Starke. So it comes as little surprise that it is here where you have the best chance to discover a lot of gems, driven in accordance with the personal principles of the shop keeper which often include social and environmental aspects. Keep your eyes open, and you will discover a lot more than I have to suggest here.
Herbalists and beauty
The old town does not have much to offer in terms of independent and surprising shops, and the Altmarkt-Galerie mall is as boring as these shopping centres usually are. A notable exception is the Sonnentor shop directly located at the mall's entrance at Postplatz, next to the tram-stop at Wallstraße. Franchises of this Austrian producer of organic and fairly traded herbs, teas, condiments, bodycare products and spices are usually located in malls or main shopping areas, neatly designed heavens offering products that are good for both, you, and the farmers and producers involved when you're in the mood for shopping.
If you're on the outlook for herbs, remedies, bodycare and food items based on ingredients described by medieval healer nun Hildegard of Bingen pay a visit to the Marone herbalist shop on Bautzner Landstraße directly located at the east-bound tram stop Pulsnitzer Straße. Not all of the products on sale (which among others include chestnut products and a small selection of biodynamic wine) in this small specialist shop are certified organic though.
Leaving the tram tracks and entering the more pedestrian-friendly quartier natural and organic bodycare products can be found at the
Touch of Nature beauty parlour cum shop in Böhmische Straße east of Rothenburger Straße. Note that this shop is
closed on weekends.
A few steps from Touch of Nature there's a second hand bicycle shop cum workshop, Zwout! (formerly Elbcycles), where you can buy a used or recycled bike if you're staying longer, or get your own one fixed.
If you follow Böhmische Straße until it ends at Alaunstraße. A
luminous blue wall indicates the location of the Geldschneider & Co. steam-punk workshop. Among others you will find beautiful jewellery made from recycled parts of abandoned analog wrist watches. The place has somewhat erratic opening hours, so step by when nearby (if you need to plan ahead: Saturdays seem a safe bet). If closed during regular German shop opening hours you may call the phone number given on the entrance door.
As in many other German cities the first address for colourful gifts as well as organic sweets, spices and condiments are fair-trade shops founded as grassroots activities by Christian parish members in accordance with the conciliar process of mutual commitment (covenant) to justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC). As the host for pioneering regional ecumenical plenums in 1989 and 1990 the city of Dresden has been playing an important role in this process. The spirit of this movement lives on in local fair trade initiatives like Quilombo which for almost 25 years had run a fair-trade shop in the entrance area of Dreikönigskirche in Hauptstraße which played host to the first democratically elected local parliament in Saxony after East Germany's peaceful implosion in 1989. Today the initiative still has a shop in the neighbourhood of Löbtau while their former place in the "Haus der Kirche" ("house of the church") has been converted into fair-trade
Sharing their roots with the Quilombo NGO the team of
Cafe Aha opposite Kreuzkirche runs a fair-trade shop in the heart of the city. It is located in the basement of the cafe and offers an impressive selection of fairly-traded gifts, body care and dry goods. This initiative also runs a fair-trade ...
... boutique, Aha Naturtextilien, on Hauptstraße, offering a great selection of fairly traded fashion made from natural materials. Here you will also find a good selection of stationary, jewellery, eatable fair-trade goods and more. By the way: the name "Aha" is an abbreviation for "trade/act differently" ("anders handeln" in German), and implies a huge effort in not only selling fairly traded goods but offering fair conditions to their own employees.
Another centrally located fair-trade shop specializing in fashion and household accessories as well as coffee and chocolates is Contigo near the central train station.
For more ethically produced and sustainable cocooning items visit Tranquillo, a likewise colourful fashion-and-things boutique cum fashion label in the Neustadt neighbourhood, at the crossroad Louisenstraße/Rothenburger Straße. They produce their own women fashion entirely made from organic textiles focussing on basic colours – if you like Aha Naturtextilien don't miss this one. There's also a sustainable furniture outlet cum cafe on the other side of the train tracks to Neustadt trainstation.
Dresden's first fashion boutique exclusively selling fairly produced clothing from fairly traded, organically grown materials is dubbed
can be found at the Western end of Louisenstraße, just before you reach the tram tracks of Königsbrücker Landstraße.
Both, streetware, denim and designer labels can be found here, for men and women. The interior of the shop is to a great deal made from upcycled furniture.
Students and nerds find fairly traded organic cotton t-shirts and sweaters with unique scientific prints at Unipolar, and everyone else organic streetware for both, men and women. This small, Dresden-based fashion label is the brain-child of a former physics student. The original store between the Bahnhof Mitte train station and the "Carl Maria von Weber" College of Music does no longer exist. (But if you already are here: the VG warehouse next to this old location has a well-assorted organic fashion section upstairs.)
As of 2024 Unipolar consists of two shops on both sides of Rothenburger Straße in the Neustadt neighbourhood, one selling clothing, and the other shoes and sustainable household gear. Finding the shops is easy: Simply spot the bath tub opposite the tram stop.
More colourful organic streetware, less nerdy prints, and open late on Fridays and Saturdays – that's
El Dorado Street Fair in Alaunstraße.
Before the arrival of noisy and cheap looking street food shops this street, the entrance to the Neustadt neighbourhood, was populated by numerous owner-run, carefully curated fashion boutiques and second-hand shops catering for a diverse crowd. Some of them have been surviving, and I'm more than happy that this shop venue, after the closing of El Dorado's predecessor, Invito, remained an organic fashion boutique.
Babies and toddlers
If you are on the look-out for beautiful, not overly sweet organic fashion for toddlers and smaller children or simply for beautiful organic garments step by Elvida in Louisenstraße approximately opposite Planwirtschaft pub and cafe. There you'll find the small flagship store of a Dresden-based sustainable kids fashion label – and a source for organic sewing things.
The following places shut down, so don't be mislead when you find references to them on the web:
- Quilombo, Haus der Kirche, Hauptstr. 23 (fair-trade)
- Baum&Wolle, Alaunstr. 13c (fashion)
- Ex Animo, Martin-Luther-Str. 17 (fashion and things)
- Hüpenthal Boutique, Bautzner Str. 63 (bespoke tailor, I miss your beautiful collars, r.i.p., Herr Hüpenthal!)
- Invito, Alaunstr. 20 (fashion, suceeded by El Dorado Street Fair)
- Lipfeins Lieblinge, Rothenburger Str. 1 (organic lipcare, factory outlet – their products can of course be obtained online or (e.g.) from one of the VG supermarkets)
- LouisdoOr, Louisenstr. 4 (sustainable toys and baby clothing)
- Tranquillo Outlet,
Louisenstr. 45 (organic fashion, visit them here)
- Unipolar Mitte, Jahnstr. 1
(streetware, visit them here)
- Un-Kraut, Martin-Luther-Pl. 12 (herbs and spices)
[Dresden, Neustadt, shopping, organic, fair, fashion, shoes, spices, tea, herbs, delicatessen, gifts, upcycling, steampunk, bodycare, furniture, household, children, toys]
Wednesday, 10 January 2024
As a university city Trondheim has had a few places offering partially organic lunch for almost a generation, both, of the home-made vegetarian food kind, and those with a fine dining approach. Some of the pioneers closed their kitchens quite recently, others re-opened in larger locations after a closing period and fostered an entire cluster of restaurants based on ingredients from organic farms in the greater region. Coffee houses and cafes serving fairly traded coffee drinks with organic milk have been coming and going, but if you put a little effort in where to go you will find both, places for a quick coffee or sandwich, places to have a great time with friends, and inspiring eating experiences.
For a lunch or breakfast sandwich head for the cafe in the backroom of the organic Godt Brød bakery near Nordre gate,
one of the pioneers of organic food in Norway. Choose the filling of your sandwich or savory bread roll (all ingredients except the Italian-style salami cut are organic), have a decent coffee drink (the milk is organic), tea, a sweet organic bread roll ("bolle"), and/or an organic juice (e.g. from the nearby Rotvoll juicery in Ranheim which has its own organic grocery on their premises). About half of the cold drinks are not organic, so check for the "økologisk" keyword. During the warm season, treat yourself with a pre-packaged organic ice-cream from Reins Kloster. Everything is offered to take away, too. Notable fact for vegans: The dough for the sweet bread rolls is dairy-free, the bakery uses porridge made from oat and water and rapeseed oil instead of milk.
The company has expanded vastly in the past few years, with shop openings in Oslo (which by now also hosts the headquarter), Stavanger, Bergen and a few other places and last but not least at its birthplace: If you cannot find a spare seat in the cafe where it all began simply walk a few more steps to Dronningensgate. With its upmarket shop front it's the perfect place for a coffee date.
A short stroll over the bridge there's a third branch by the waterfront, inside the
Solsiden shopping mall with even longer opening hours. They have a spacious sitting area outdoor, although its use is limited due to the ever changing weather in Trondheim. Good to know: All Godt Brød branches accept anonymous payments without data traces, using cash.
Heartier food like organic egg and bacon for breakfast or lamb burgers for lunch or dinner, together with organic softdrinks can be had at Ramp Pub and Spiseri at Svartlamon. Vegetarian options are available. Service at this shabby-homely place may be a little slow, and not all of the ingredients are organic.
Formerly entirely furnished with formica tables and chairs the interior has improved since, but gentrification hasn't replaced the proletarian chic yet.
The kitchen closes at 9 pm.
Real organic food, vegan and vegetarian, is served at neighbourhood Cafe Stammen in Kongens gate. Unfortunately their opening hours are rather limited, so I haven't been able to pay a visit yet. Let me know about your experience if you happen to eat there before me.
Simple seasonal lunch with the little extra, home-made predominantly from produce of small-scale organic (though not necessarily certified) farms from the Trøndelag region, sourdough bread of traditional grains from the adjacent bakery, coffee and books, this is
Sellanraa next to the city library and Kunsthall museum. Unfortunately they do not serve dinner and are closed on Sundays.
Fine dining based on local organic produce started with restaurant Credo in an old narrow street in the city center of Trondheim many years ago. The place had to close, but after a break, master-mind and chef Heidi Bjerkan started anew on new, formerly industrial locations in Lilleby. There are now three restaurants for various budgets, and a bakery: fine dining at Credo, informal rustic brunch, lunch and dinner at Jossa, and ramen soups with a Norwegian touch at Edoramen, run
by different chefs who all share the love for unadultered, sustainable food.
However, Michelin-decorated Credo is going to close by the end of January, 2024, to re-open on the premises of the National Library in Oslo, during summer or autumn, 2024.
Let's hope that Jossa and Edoramen are going to survive without their mastermind.
All places are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays as well as during the Easter and X-Mas holidays.
At the airport
Airports generally aren't the place for a conscious lifestyle, but if you cannot avoid to fly from Trondheim Airport Værnes you may at least have an organic coffee past security at
Haven next to
Permanently closed or no longer organic
The following places are either closed, with references remaining on the web, or ceased to offer organic items:
- Credo, Ørjaveita 4 (partially organic gourmet restaurant, re-opened on new location)
- Kafé Soil, Nedre Bakklandet 20d
- Makro Buffet og Restaurant, Prinsens gt. 4c (partially organic macrobiotic eatery)
- Trondheim Mathall, Prinsens gt. 30 (partially organic restaurant and delicatessen)
- Persilleriet, Erling Skakkes gt. 39 (one of the pioneers of organic vegetarian food in Trondheim, replaced by a vegan lunch bar, Erlings, where you perhaps also will find some organic items if you ask)
- Persilleriet St. Olavs Hospital, Olav Kyrres gt. 13
TMV kaia 13 (pizza)
- Dromedar Kaffebar (various places, do no longer have anything organic)
[Trondheim, organic, fair, vegetarian, vegan, bakeries, cafe, takeaway, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, dinner, pizza, airports]
Sunday, 10 December 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 citizens 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.
Further along Türkenstraße you'll find Mr. Ben – a small coffee cum snacks place offering (herbal) tea and soft drinks in organic quality. Unfortunately neither the coffee artisanally roasted in the neighbourhood of Giesing nor the milk and oat milk are organic.
There's a small selection of Italian-style piadina sandwiches and freshly home-made cake which occasionally may contain organic ingredients. The croissants used to come from an organic bakery a longer bicycle ride out of town but they were sold out (just like the veggie piadina) when I was there. Orders should be placed at the bar, but you will be served, and return to the bar for payment, preferably (and if the sum is smaller than ten euros only) in cash.
If you prefer strictly vegan places for a coffee break try 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
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]
Saturday, 18 November 2023
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.
Cocooning and body care
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.
November 2018 saw 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
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!