Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Cafe Society


One of the most appealing things about Germany is its cafe society; places where you can nurse a coffee, read a book and watch the world go by. You are never hassled to move on, they serve breakfast all day long and usually have an array of freshed baked cakes. German cafes tend to have a handy stash of magazines and newspapers, so if you happen to leave your book at home, there’s always something to read.

Writing at home is fraught with booby-traps: the laundry, the phone, members of my family, so I have spent large chunks of the last three years writing in Heidelberg cafes where I have no alternative but to knuckle down. I thought that over the next few weeks, I’d introduce you to some of my favourites.

The first candidate is my newest find, the Literature Cafe. On arriving in Heidelberg, the first thing we did was join the library, a lovely glass building overlooking a small park in the centre of town. It is light-filled, groaning with books and scattered with cushions for readers to lounge on. My family and I felt immediately at home.

Attached to the library is the Literature Cafe and yesterday, without my small attendants and in need of a quiet hour to face my novel revisions, I went there. The cafe is glass-walled, like the library, so even on a gloomy, rain-bespattered day, it was light. There is a terrace that will come into its own in a couple of months time.

The cafe has a small menu of hot and cold drinks, breakfast items, sandwiches and cakes, which are apparently baked by the owner herself. There is a short daily specials menu, and since I was there at lunch-time, I ordered the spicy vegetable coconut soup, which was delicious and an extremely reasonable €3.50. Along with a large Milchkaffee and a mineral water, my bill came in at €7.50. The service was polite and efficient, and in the German manner to which I have grown happily accustomed, not over-friendly. On Sunday, the Literature Cafe does a brunch for €6.50 per person, which is a bargain. There is a selection of 50 newspapers from around the world, which customers are welcome to pick up and read with their coffee.

For me, the Literature Cafe’s biggest selling point is its proximity to  the library. You can get your books and head straight for the cafe to start reading. The clientele yesterday were mainly people on their own, either reading or writing. Those in couples or groups spoke quietly, as if in deference to the library next door, and the only person who broke the quiet was a four-year-old who had a spectacular melt-down but was quickly removed by his mother. I could still hear his screams of  ‘Mean Mummy! Mean Mummy!’ going down the road as I smugly returned to my personal oasis of coffee and words.

Heidelberg’s Literature Cafe can be found at Poststrasse 15. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am till 8pm, Saturdays from 10am till 5pm and Sundays from 10am till 3pm.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

9 thoughts on “Cafe Society

  1. I am simply green with envy. If I hadn’t just discovered a residential library, where you can go and stay (DBB £50 ensuite) in relatively close proximity, I would be beside myself with jealousy.

  2. ‘Mean Mummy!’ – lol! I do wish there were better cafes to work in around here. My village has none, and Cambridge is full of tourists. Sigh. The Literature Cafe sounds delightful.

  3. Carlisle is not exactly riddled with cafes either, which it OUGHT to be considering it’s a university town. Well, college town. That sounds heavenly. I love to read and drink coffee, write and drink coffee, sit and drink coffee (and so on). 🙂

  4. Oh doesn’t that sound delightful. Can it be exported?

  5. Not sure whether I could transcend in public. Originally, I needed to wear ear-muffs, close myself in a room and sit facing a blank wall.

    And when the words came, they surprised me. Convinced I hadn’t thought them. Glanced over my shoulder, expecting to see someone standing behind me, thinking the words going down. Weird.

    Now, my mind won’t leave me alone. All sorts of fine tuning it wants me to do. So forever polishing and wondering why I didn’t put it down correctly the first time. But glad about the revisions.

    Good on you for tackling the problems. They break most people. And Charlotte Otter ain’t for breaking.

  6. Right on with this one! The Literaturcafe is my favorite place for coffee in Heidelberg. The books next door are great, and the macchiato is one of the best in town, but the best thing thing is the international press. Where else do I get to read the Observer magazine and El País?

  7. Sigh, I miss Europe. The options in Hoboken, New Jersey are: 1) Starbucks, and if that doesn’t work, 2) another Starbucks three blocks away. Our library is well-worn and far from any coffee shop. Even the Barnes & Nobles with their built-in coffee havens are closing left and right as electronic books seem to be sweeping the nation. When I lived in Warsaw, I remember enjoying the Viennese-style cafe attached to the century-old Bristol Hotel. I spent a lot of mornings there reading the international press, or getting lost in a book.

  8. Oooo, that place sounds awesome. Hellos from an expat in Mainz… *waves*

  9. Pingback: 2011 in First Lines « Charlotte's Web

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