Discovering Berlin: Cemetery Cafes

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At Fork & Walk we are always on the lookout for places to eat that highlight Berlin’s history, offer us something delicious in the now or reveal something about the city’s future. Today, we are trotting out a story that can’t be buried any longer — the story of the Berlin cemetery cafes.

Known in local parlance as Friedhof Cafes, you could call them ‘Culinary Limbos’ of sorts or a ‘Tasty Weigh Station’ on the way to another world. Call them what you will, but make note: Not all Berliners who frequent these cafes are mourners. Many a weary soul comes seeking refuge from city life, while others just come for lunch.

A GRIMM FIND

Until 2017, there were only three Berlin cemetery cafes: Cafe Strauss at Friedrichswerder Friedhof is, perhaps, the most well-known. This cozy spot has some of the best cake in the Bergmann Kiez. The cafe is both simple and elegant and the coffees here are roasted daily in-house.

Not far away, at der Alte St. Matthäus Kirchof in Schöneberg is the Cafe Finova. This is the most eclectic of the Berlin cemetery cafes. The graves of the Brother’s Grimm are the feature of this Friedhof and not to be missed.

LOST GENIUS OF THE BERLIN CEMETERY CAFES

Cafe Doro at Dortheenstadtisch Friedhof in Mitte is situated in the heart of Germany’s old
industrial quarter. Here lie literary giants Heinrich Mann and Bertolt Brecht, among others. This is a perfect spot to choke back a cup of well-roasted coffee from Flying Roasters and despair all that lost genius. If you would rather, take a slice of one of their many fancy cakes to celebrate the fact their genius ever existed. The hours here are irregular, so make sure to check opening hours before you go.

NEW KIDS IN THE FRIEDHOF

If you would rather forget the past, look no further. Two recent hip and delicious entries just arrived on the Berlin cemetery cafe scene. Situated in the heart of the immigrant district Neukölln, these cafes are bringing life in the cemetery to a new level. Enter 21 Gramm on Hermanstrasse and Jacobi Kaffeebar hiding in plain sight just up the road at Hermannplatz.

Just off the Karl Marx Strasse, at the Alter St. Jacobi Evangelical Friedhof, sits the very modern Jacobi Kaffeebar. It was opened in the fall of 2017 by Anatol Kleimeier. Kleimeier’s wanted to find a way to merge this urban crossroads into the memorial space of the cemetery. The result is a relatively seamless blending of life and death.

Jacobi offers a wide selection of drinks with coffee from Flying Roasters and light lunch fare. Stunning Romanesque columns shelter a few tables that face a bustling street, while at the rear, you’ll find a quiet terrace within just a stone’s throw of the graveyard.  The interior boasts a well-appointed cafe with a side room for community events like coffee roasting workshops. There is also a nice play space for kids.

THE WEIGHT OF IT ALL

Let’s kick the bucket a bit further down the road to the Leinenstrasse U-Bahn to 21 Gramm – the newest of the Berlin cemetery cafes. Named for the supposed weight of the human soul, 21 Gramm is located on the grounds of St.Thomas Kirchhof. However, you wouldn’t know this place is a cemetery cafe considering the luxurious terrace and the stunning vaulted ceilings. There is a lively, welcoming and casual vibe that seems appropriate for a culinary checkpoint situated between life and the sweet hereafter.  Even though the lunch platters are popular here, we will be going back for the breakfast pancakes (because brunch is the hot ticket in town these days).

WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE

Perhaps a bit of food and a good cup of coffee is all you need to steel yourself to confront death on the way in, or help to reinvigorate yourself on the way back to the world of the living. Either way, these spaces add an unexpected dimension to the already dynamic new food city of our home, Berlin.

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