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10 March 2014 - Ingrid Krause

Coffee, cocoa and catacombs

© Ingrid Krause

You can still experience traditional harbour life in Holzhafen, in the evolving Überseestadt district in Bremen. Fish meal is still shipped and coffee is still roasted here. It’s home to the Rolandmühle grain mill, and the world’s oldest profession is still very much alive here – but there are also some disused buildings. Right here, in Hagstrasse, Sirius Facilities are marketing a business park.

Ludwig Roselius – inventor of Café HAG and Kaba cocoa

During the European Heritage Days I was fortunate enough to visit some of the old buildings that form the large heritage-listed industrial complex where Café HAG decaf coffee and Kaba cocoa were produced. It was coffee merchant Ludwig Roselius, inventor of decaf coffee and of Kaba cocoa, who, at the beginning of the 20th century, commissioned Hugo Wagner to design and build his factory. Roselius was also behind the famous Böttcherstrasse in Bremen’s historic centre. You can see colourful windows on the Crusoe building with the advertising slogan ‘Kaffee HAG – schont Herz und Nerven’ (‘Café HAG – easy on your heart and nerves’). And if you want to see some Kaba packaging from the past, you can find it in the old merchant’s shop upstairs in the ethnological museum. These days, Kaba is made by Mondelez International; you can see the purple-coloured advertising for it very well from the Schlachte Embankment.

Every second coffee bean processed in Germany goes via Bremen.
Every second coffee bean processed in Germany goes via Bremen. © WFB/Frank Pusch

Coffee bliss with Lloyd Caffee in the HAG building

The old buildings also house the Lloyd Caffee roastery. Here you’ll find a shop and a coffee house, and you can take guided tours that tell you all you need to know about coffee. The aroma of coffee that fills the building at the heart of the harbour district is irresistible, and I can highly recommend the brownies. The marble hall next door, which was created in 1914/1915 and has been used as a coffee tasting room and a canteen for upper management, is available for hire as a function room with a very special atmosphere.

Delicious coffee
At LIoyd Caffee the coffee is freshly roasted © Jan Rathke & Lloyd Caffee

Street art and catacombs in the home of Kaba cocoa

Even more interesting for me were the rooms of the brick building with the Kaba sign, especially as these are normally locked. Unfortunately, I didn’t grab the opportunity to take any photos. This was mainly because it was just too busy – photos of these rooms only work when there are no people about. I hope to make up for that as soon as possible. The huge rooms, which you could probably access in a small car via the lifts, are full of graffiti, including some real works of art. The shabby charm of the rooms, and their immense size and particular atmosphere, had me hooked immediately. I wandered through every floor, even the cellar – where I got lost in the slightly creepy catacombs. The only photographic evidence of my tour of the building is this view through the broken window towards the yellow HAG building, which can be seen from miles around and is a real landmark of the harbour district.

Future development in Überseestadt – where is it heading?

I feel strongly that we should preserve as much of harbour life and as many of the old buildings as possible in Überseestadt, and not just those that are heritage-listed. Do you have any ideas for how the charm of these old buildings can be retained, and for how they can be made more accessible to the general public, yet still be used commercially?

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