Aarti Mehta-Kroll visits a Mitte bakery that has quality goods and a social conscience…
My first visit to Zeit für Brot was on a cool and sunny Wednesday afternoon. As I strolled from Rosa Luxemburg Platz along Alte Schönhauser Strasse, I immediately noticed the long wooden tables placed outside the bakery/café beneath dark awnings.
What a nice opportunity to people-watch while enjoying a coffee, I thought to myself.
The first thing I noticed upon entering the café were the wooden shelves in pastel tones; resting against a grey wall they were filled with an eye-catching assortment of breads.
Each loaf – from Bauernlaib (made with rye-spelt) to Pain Artisan – was beautifully crafted, and the careful presentation made me think more of an artistic composition than the average bakery display. Reading that the bread was freshly baked every day made me even more tempted to buy a loaf — as did the transparent glass wall that allows customers to witness the bread making process.
Despite the ostensibly artisanal concept, the café’s interior design is distinctly urban, with parquet floors, spotlights in the tall ceilings and designer lamps and chairs. The colour scheme is mellow and the overall impression is smart but relaxed.
I got chatting to the friendly staff, who explained how leftover food goes to the homeless, one of the store’s many acts of social and environmental consciousness; the energy used on the premises is also carbon neutral and everything made in house is organic. From what I could see, all externally produced items sold – from the muesli to the juices — also carried organic stamps from companies like Bioland.
Aside from bread, the café offers quiches, sandwiches and paninis, in addition to a selection of sweet and savoury baked products like fantastic (and huge) cinnamon rolls, Schokobrötchen and the obligatory selection of cakes – everything from carrot to apple crumble.
As it was 3.30pm on a weekday afternoon, I was surprised to see a steady stream of customers. Most picked up a coffee and treat to go, but the clientele was pleasingly diverse: adolescents and pensioners, and a generous smattering of young mothers hanging on to their toddlers and pushing prams.
Despite all the activity, the noise level never seemed to rise. I don’t know if this was simply a matter of good sound-proofing or the consequence of a highly polite staff and clientele, but it’s one of the few cafes in the area I could imagine bringing work to.
It looks like a good spot for breakfast too: the menu offers three options, including bread with something sweet, bread with cheese, and bread with meat and cheese. You can also get cooked eggs, as well as the usual coffees, teas, soft drinks and juices.
As I sat back with my coffee, I was mostly struck by the ambiance. The grey walls and white tabletops exude a sense of calm. The large windows, left completely open on the day I visited, let in plenty of light and air, and add to the room’s spaciousness by dissolving the boundary between inside and out. Despite being located on a street in a busy part of town, I was free to sit back and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.
Of course, there are many places in Berlin to go and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, and you probably have several options in your immediate neighborhood.
But if you find yourself in this part of Mitte and want to avoid the hustle-bustle, Time for Bread is a fine place to read a book, chat with friends or simply watch the world go by – all while enjoying premium quality goods and supporting socially and environmentally-minded concepts.
Alte Schönhauser Straße 4
10119 Berlin (Mitte)
T: 030 28 04 67 80
U: Weinmeisterstraße / Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz
Open: Mon-Fri 7.30-20; Sat 8-20; Sun 8-18
All images by Lara Merrington