The history of coffee houses and cafés is also the history of modern urban living. In Mannheim, cafés are wellbeing oases of communication and inspiration – and define the pulse of the city.
Somewhere between traditional coffee house, urban coffee spot and French sidewalk café, many new and individually designed cafés have established a new level of coffee awareness – with homemade cakes and speciality coffees for discerning guests who are open to trying new things.
What Mannheim’s hip Jungbusch district is for bar lovers, the Neckarstadt-Ost district is for café enthusiasts.
The “Kleines Café” on Clignetplatz could also be called the “Kleines Restaurant”, because here you’ll find not only fabulous coffee but also delicious lunches. The menu includes a range of lovingly prepared dishes, from gnocchi gratin to classic breaded schnitzel with homemade potato and cucumber salad. And of course there is a selection of homemade cakes and an urban feel-good ambience of the kind you might expect to find in big-city neighbourhoods like Prenzlauer Berg or Berlin-Mitte.
It is only short stroll from the Kleines Café to the Neckarstadt-West district. In Mittelstraße, the Anticafé Klokke challenges everything you might have believed about cafés. Founders Caroline and Svetlana chose as their motto “Together instead of lonely”. This is a space dedicated to ideas and projects, and to bringing people together in interest groups.
When you arrive, you are given a little card that is punched in a time clock. All you need to do then is relax and enjoy. You don’t pay anything for coffee, organic tea, cake or fruit and you can even bring your own food and drinks. Unlike any other café, you pay for the time you spend here, not for what you consume. It’s a place for people who are not in a hurry – the longer you stay, the cheaper the hourly rate.
Where can you enjoy coffee and cake free from animal products? Vegan coffee lovers who want to enjoy something sweet while avoiding butter cream, cream and honey glaze are in good hands at Café Vogelfrei. This vintage-styled café offers a wide selection of mainly vegan baked goods. The café is particularly popular with students from the nearby university. A further attraction is the beautiful, covered courtyard its natural light and wonderful ambience, which can be enjoyed all year round.
In 2016, the Q 6 Q 7 complex opened its doors for the first time in Mannheim’s “Fressgasse”. On the ground floor of the shopping mall, Café Brue is dedicated to the coffee bean. Roasting is done in the Mannheim manufactory Helder & Leeuwen. The baristas know exactly which variety develops the best flavour using which method of preparation. Under their guidance, you can choose between portafilter, hand filter, siphon and filter machine. Sipping a hand-filtered coffee from Ethiopia while watching the bustle on the Fressgasse is an invigorating experience.
In the Schwetzingerstadt district, not far from the water tower and the new “Kunsthalle”, is a cult Mannheim institution that you should definitely visit – Café Lido. In summer, you sit outside on benches and enjoy an ice cream or homemade cake with your coffee. At the weekends, you can sample the extensive breakfast menu right through until the evening. Just a few minutes away – by the water tower under the arcades – Lido-founder Jürgen Tekath has created another institution with his Café Flo. Right down to the last detail, you’ll find the perfect Parisian café atmosphere here with a great view of the new Kunsthalle and Friedrichsplatz.
The Café Prag is a classic of Mannheim coffee culture. In an art nouveau building next to the town hall, you can enjoy cappuccino or espresso with perfect crema at French bistro tables. The Prag is a timeless café – and may even date back to 1902, when the Mannheim Stock Exchange moved in here. Today, cultural bohemians rub shoulders with city slickers here, and everyone appreciates the personal atmosphere and fine selection of cakes. These are baked fresh every day by the Herrdegen patisserie just around the corner, which has been celebrating traditional Mannheim coffee house culture since 1838. If you take a seat there on the upper floor, you might think you have accidentally landed in the electoral baroque palace and that the hectic coffee-to-go culture of the noughties had never existed.
If you want to discover the old school of Mannheim’s coffee house culture, you should definitely visit café Mohrenköpfle in the Neckarstadt-West district on Sundays. A timeless place, dedicated to cosiness, where they still serve pots of coffee – and where the fabulous homemade cakes are the talk of the city.