The Organic Traveller
Sunday, 01 March 2020

Dresden: Organic coffeehouses

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" ("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.

Neustadt

With friendly service and a huge display of gorgeous cakes and pastries Die Kuchenglocke in Wilheminian Neustadt neighbourhood is reviving the tradition of Viennese style coffeehouses. Facing the beautiful, comparatively quiet square around Martin Luther church it is an extremely pleasant place to spend hours. The cakes are made by Dresden's furthermost organic bakery Heller, a true German bakery which was one of the first organic ice-cream makers in Germany. The young Heller generation running this beautiful cafe cum confectioner's shop proudly exclaim on the shop window's front that they are organic. Even if you have little time step by and have an ice-cream to go (1.50 EUR per scoop) or shop for sweets to take away.

The Hellers also fill the gap that nearby Cafe Continental at the crossroad Görlitzer Straße/Louisenstraße left when they stopped serving organic breakfast about three years ago: At the Kuchenglocke you can have breakfast all day long, too, and all organic. To have breakfast on late weekend mornings it's however advisable to order a table in advance as the place usually is quite crowded at that time. They also serve lunch. If you travel with kids head for the room hidden behind the bakery counter -- you'll find toys and books and a pleasant sofa there.

Phoenix

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 Friday and Saturday, but they often keep closed on Saturdays, too.

Oswaldz 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.

If you head towards the shores of the river Elbe along Hauptstraße boulevard the Dreikönigskirche house of the church on the right hand side offers a quiet retreat from busy city life. On weekdays you can have a coffee, tea (both organic) and cake in the fair-trade Cafe Dreikönig within. There's also a small range of usually organic fair-trade foodstuffs for sale. Note that they are closed Saturday through Monday.

Old town

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 fair-trade shop which cannot follow the restaurant's liberal opening hours and is closed in the evenings and on Sundays.

Contigo

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".

VG Backladen

Dresden-Mitte

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.

Oswaldz 2 -- Cafe am Fluss 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.

Leubnitz

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

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2020-03-01 08:30:00 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant, confectioners] Link

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Thursday, 27 February 2020

Salzburg: Zero Waste

While buying organic requires little effort in Salzburg, minimizing waste is an entirely different issue. If you wish to carry home your purchases in your own re-usable containers you depend on the cooperation of the shop, which even in organic supermarkets can be surprisingly little. But by the end of 2019 Salzburg got its own dedicated organic pay-by-weight grocery: In the Andräviertel neighbourhood GenussProGramm (a pun which can be translated as both, "pleasure by the gram" or "pleasure program") opened in lieu of the former Frau von Grün grocery five minutes south of Mirabellplatz which had been offering a good selection of loose weight organic goods.

GenussProGramm

Stylish and spacious the place has the looks of a cafe rather than of a grocery, but do not be mistaken: you may come here for both, your daily shopping as well as for breakfast, lunch and coffee. A small selection of fresh fruit and veges, dairy products, vegan alternatives and bakery items round up the quite exhaustive supply of dry goods and package-free household items, all nicely presented.

Medousa

To add Italian-style antipasti and other mediterranean and vegetarian delicatessen to your shopping bag take your jars to the Medousa market booth at the Grünmarkt opposite Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt within Mozart's birthplace, and politely ask to fill them. Unfortunately this was the only organic booth at this daily farmer's market I spotted during my visit, and it's there on Fridays and Saturdays only.

Offsite tourist tracks but on your way to Hellbrunn castle or zoo you'll find the only Salzburg branch of the organic supermarket chain Basic which allows you to shop almost all daily necessities without producing non-compostable waste.

To refill milk around the clock head for the milk vending machine at the Erentrudishof farm in Morzg, a pleasant bike ride from the city. There's also a farmshop, of course with more restricted opening hours, where you also can buy eggs, spelt, wheat and rye produced by the farm.

Artisanal bakeries

When buying bread, rolls, cake or snacks from organic bakeries you should by now no longer meet strange looks when presenting your bag or container. But organic bakeries in town seem to be afraid of advertising themselves as "bio", so it can be difficult to find the right place.

Elisabethen-based artisanal bakery Pföß has a shop next to the Sternbräu area in the old town. Unfortunately only the bread is promised to be organic, the white rolls tasted bland as if they were made of conventional flour. On the other hand the Krapfen doughnuts were a real delight, crisp and still a little warm, filled with fruity apricot purree instead of oversweet jam. If you come here for a snack stay away from the conventional softdrinks, and you may wish to ask whether the sandwiches are made with organic toppings.

If you want to be sure to get 100 percent organic bakery products, visit the Grünmarkt at Universitätsplatz: Four days a week you'll find the booth of Bio-Bäckerei Itzinger on its Eastern side, near the Ritzerbogen hallway. The bakery also offers vegan bread and rolls and has a focus on wholemeal products.

Closed

2020-02-27 12:00:00 [Salzburg, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, deli, market, breakfast, snacks, farms] Link

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Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Organic Pirna

Pirna, a nicely restored small town a little east of Dresden and the entire surrounding district Eastern Erzgebirge/Saxon Switzerland may be best known for its bad reputation as a stronghold of outer right-wing extremists, neo-fascists and populists. But fortunately the town also has a strong civil society which cleans up the spitted at windows and works for a humane neighbourhood and the integrity of creation. So whether you're on the road with your bicycle travelling the Elberadweg or take the urban train from Dresden -- have a break to support these brave people and marvel at the town with roots in the stone age, its rich medieval and modern history.

Café Bohemia

For a coffee break head for Café Bohemia a little off the market place, located in a restored renaissance house built in 1480. When the weather is nice you may take a seat outdoors, on the pleasantly quiet cobblestones of Schmiedegasse ("blacksmith's lane"). The Italian-style coffee drinks are made with organic milk, and the rich and lipsmacking home-made cakes contain organic eggs and milk as well as organic fruit and herbs, both home-grown or collected from meadows in the surroundings with scattered fruit trees. As the Saxon cake tradition has it the friendly owner will serve the cake with a dollop of cream. Unfortunately the cafe is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

On these days, in the morning or if you prefer a hearty lunch proceed to the Vorwerk Podemus organic supermarket you may know from Dresden, with its fully organic bistro.

Another option for a cake or snack is the town's only artisanal organic bakery Spiegelhauer near the train station. The family also had an organic cafe cum ice-cream parlour in nearby Heidenau but this does no longer exist.

Small German towns with beautiful old city centres often have a small traditional organic corner shop in one of the historic lanes, and Pirna is no exception: However, the owners of the former organic greengrocery Naturkosten closed their shop near St. Mary's city church a few years ago and turned it into a beautiful organic bodycare shop, boringly dubbed Naturkosmetik.

There's still another small-scale organic grocery in the south, a little out of town, the Bioladen in Pirnas Grünem Haus.

Closed

2020-01-29 19:00:00 [Pirna, Heidenau, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, organic, coffee, lunch, snacks, cafe, supermarkets, grocery, bakeries, bodycare] Link

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Tuesday, 07 January 2020

Organic Prague

The Bohemian kitchen serves a lot of (conventional) meat, and vegetarian places usually do neither use organic ingredients -- eating out can be quite a challenge in beautiful and historial Prague. My favourite restaurant from many years ago unfortunately does no longer exist, so I had to start almost from scratch, and my time in the city was limited. The good news: You have no longer to be a strict follower of a wholefood diet if you prefer organic food. But compared with capitals of neighbouring countries there's still a gap to close.

Country Life Melantrichova

Daily necessities

Founded in the 1990-ies the organic grocery Country Life has developed into a small organic supermarket chain since. The shops still look like small health food shops and concentrate on wholefood, but provide you with a sufficient selection of fresh and dry organic food, dairy products as well as vegan alternatives. Bread, rolls and pastries bought by the piece as well as fruits and veges aren't pre-packaged, and there is a good selection of dry food available from zero-waste dispensers, so come with your own bags and containers. Note that, except for the one in the old town, all Country Life shops are closed on both, on Saturdays and Sundays, and all of them close as early as between 6 and 7 pm.

Also in Prague you will find a number of franchises of the German DM chemist's chain which will provide you with a good selection of organic dry goods and natural bodycare. Their own brands "DM Bio" (food) and "Alverde" (body care) are affordable even if your budget is tight.

Restaurace Country Life

Eating out

If you found the Country Life grocery in the old town, Stare Mesto, head into the small alleyway to its left, where you find Prague's eldest still existing organic restaurant, the Restaurace Country Life. The interior resembles a typical Czech beer restaurant, and the place serves hearty Bohemian food indeed, however all vegetarian and dairy-free. Note that this self-service place -- just like the grocery -- is closed on Saturdays.

There is also an eatery on the premises of the Country life shop in Dejvice (Mind the quite restricted opening hours), and the convenience store in Jungmannova street will provide you with snacks.

Puro Kaprova

Coffee and ice-cream

For the hip coffee bar cum ice-cream parlour head for one of the Puro shops in town who decidedly do not sell "zmrzlina" but "gelato". The one nearest to tourist tracks is located two street corners from tube stop Staromestska, where you almost cannot miss the red-white checkered window front which hides a pastell-coloured self-service cafe. Queue, order, pay and pick up your certified kosher ice-cream made from organic milk. A small scoop (one flavour) comes at 50 crowns, a medium one (two flavours) at 90 crowns. If you ordered coffee drinks, milk shakes made with organic milk or cakes they will be served later on the seat you choose. Coffee and chocolate unfortunately aren't organic, only certified by the Rainforest alliance, and it is not quite clear whether the shop also uses the organic brown sugar which is on sale as the sugar served with the coffee is not organic.

More to try

During my research I found the following places that seemed likely to sell or serve at least partially organic food and drinks, but I did not had the time to check them out myself. If you do I'd appreciate if you let me know whether they actually do so!

Where to stay

Want to stay in an eco-conscious place and wake up to an organic breakfast? I have to disappoint you -- so far I haven't been able to spot a hotel or hostel that I full-heatedly can recommend. However, here are my learnings:

On their website the design hotel Josef in the city centre announces partially organic breakfast, but since I stayed there while covid-19 hygienic restrictions were in place I cannot report whether the regular breakfast buffet in the impersonal business breakfast room usually contains organic items. Breakfast was served instead at their newly renovated sister hotel Maximilian. Here nothing was organic, not even the eggs. When I asked for my cappucchino with organic milk I got one probably made with oat drink, but since I wasn't able to spot the package I cannot say for sure whether it actually was an organic variety. At the Josef hotel bar The Duke organic dry gin was the only organic option.

If you prefer to stay a little out of town Hotel Adalbert located in a former baroque monastery claims to be an eco hotel but confirmed not to serve any organic breakfast items. Ask for it in the hope that customer demand may have the power for change.

Ceased to exist

The following places are temporarily closed, shut down or were replaced by other, not organic ones, and are listed here as you still find them on the web:

2020-01-07 10:45:00 [Prague, Praha, Prag, organic, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, zero_waste, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, bodycare, household, hotel, accommodation, eatery] Link

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Sunday, 08 September 2019

Organic Dessau

The origin and home of the world-famous Bauhaus is both, conveniently located at the Elberadweg bicycle route and conveniently reachable every hour by urban train no. 2 and regional trains from Leipzig main train station. From the train station simply follow the signs to the Bauhaus university, and there, in the self-service Café-Bistro im Bauhaus in the basement, you may order an organic tea or lemonade. Unfortunately this is all you may expect of organic food or snacks on a Saturday afternoon, Sunday or public holiday.

Bauhaus

On weekdays the prospects are brighter, but since I was there on a Sunday, I am unfortunately not able to verify my upfront research which I'm presenting here nevertheless. If you visit any of the places mentioned below (or find more) let me know about your experience.

Breakfast and lunch

The only at least partially organic restaurant is located east of Dessau main train station (i.e. on the opposite side of the tracks than the Bauhaus building and the famous Masters' Houses by Walter Gropius). According to a usually reliable German organic customers' journal the Essbar cafe cum bistro inside the Schwabehaus cultural centre uses organic ingredients to prepare its predominantly vegan and vegetarian food. Unfortunately it serves breakfast and lunch only and is closed on weekends.

Organic provisions

Every second Saturday of a month there's a farmers' market a little further in north-eastern direction, the Bio-Regionalmarkt on Lidice-Platz between the monuments of Dessau-born composer Kurt Weill and playwright Bertolt Brecht. There you should be able to buy organic fruit and veges, simply watch out for the "bio" keyword and organic labels as there are also conventional market boothes.

From Lidiceplatz follow Karlsstraße further east to the Biopur grocery on the premises of the old slaughterhouse of Dessau-Nord. It's a small traditional organic convenience store which offers a good selection of both, organic fresh and dry food as well as bodycare and household items.

There's another small organic grocery on the Bauhaus side of the train station, the Bibernelle ("burnet") which also has a booth at the Bio-Regionalmarkt. It's conveniently located right in the vicinity of the Bauhaus and the Masters' Houses, serves organic coffee, tea, snacks and cakes and has only one disadvantage for the Bauhaus visitor: It's closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

2019-09-08 15:00:00 [Dessau, Rosslau, Bauhaus, Elbe_cycle_route, Elberadweg, organic, snacks, lunch, coffee, supermarkets, grocery] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.