In the former craftsmen’s quarter
Today I am taking you to the quarter around St. Gille’s church (St. Aegidien) for the Lübeck ZWISCHENZEILEN, to Café Konvent, where I meet the owner Julian Alm for a cappuccino and a behind-the-scenes look at his popular café.
We start at Klingenberg and move along Aegidienstraße down the Old Town hill towards St. Annen-Straße. In the upper part of Aegidienstraße you will find some post-war buildings, while further down the street you can admire picturesque facades in the mix of styles so typical of Lübeck. Here a stepped gable, there a baroque city palace, the whole mixed with a little classicism. A narrow entrance leading to a hidden alleyway catches the eye here and there. This is another of those familiar feelings that you often get when you stroll through the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the Aegidien quarter, for example, you will discover the passage between Wahmstraße and Aegidienstraße. It is affectionately called “Unnerbüx” – underpants – by us locals because the passage has one entrance and two exits.
Finally, at the bottom of the street we reach St. Gille’s church . You’ll understand that I can’t simply ignore her on my way to the café, even though she’s not the main character in this article. After all, the church of the craftsmen and farmers was first mentioned in a document in 1227. Ackerbürger were farmers who made their living largely from running a small farm. If you like, join our guide Anna inside the church and watch this video. Find out what the “T” is all about, which you’ll encounter here and there around the church, here in our ZWISCHENSTOPPS section.
Convenire in the Konvent
Café Konvent is located on a street corner at St. Annen-Straße 1 directly behind St.Gille’s. For over 700 years there were various charitable institutions on this site near the church. And for more than 200 years until the Reformation, Beguines lived in the Aegidien- and Michaeliskonvent at St Annen- and Stavenstraße. Beguines were members of lay religious communities who were primarily charitable and cared for the sick, the poor and the dying.
The neo-Gothic building that houses Café Konvent was built in 1890. It is part of the Aegidienhof social housing project. The name of the café is therefore well chosen. People come here to meet every day. Many are regulars who occasionally run into each other and strike up a conversation across the tables. It is important to him to offer the opportunity to exchange ideas, says Julian Alm, who was born in Lübeck and had the courage to start his own business.
Julian comes from a long-established Lübeck business family. The company Farben Alm was founded by Julian’s grandfather in 1888. From him and his father, Julian has learned to think ahead. He has an appreciation of traditional Hanseatic values such as the handshake that is the reaffirmation of an agreement that has been made,
Julian has been working in the hospitality industry since the age of 16 and somehow “got stuck”. After working in various cities, he returned to Lübeck. Here he was and is very well connected. Julian made the decision to go for the café very quickly. His intuition whispered a clear “yes” as he inspected the premises.
And the success proves him and his team right. Due to its somewhat hidden location in a part of the Old Town, many visitors to our city discover this treasure of Lübeck’s gastronomic scene rather by chance, for example after a visit to St. Anne’s Museum. In the Konvent Café, you’ll meet people from the neighbourhood. Craftsmen and students take a break here. The ceiling-high rooms with partially unplastered walls create a sense of space. The mix of tables and chairs made of different materials fits in well with the idea of being a welcoming place for all.
It is especially nice to sit outside in a shady spot next to the walls of St. Gille’s church. As a book lover, I always search the outdoor bookshelf, where I have discovered a literary surprise from time to time.
When it’s finished, it’s finished
Breakfast is very popular at the Konvent, especially as it is available throughout the day. My favourite is the Eggs Benedict, served with incredibly delicious sourdough bread and avocado cream. The sandwiches made from homemade sourdough bread – also available as a vegan option – are THE classic at Konvent, which is the only café in Lübeck to offer this type of bread. Sourdough has been around for around 6,000 years and is now back in fashion. Unlike other breads, sourdough’s slow fermentation combined with lactic acid bacteria improves the bioavailability of these important nutrients. However, making this healthy product is quite time-consuming: On Mondays, Julian prepares the dough, on Tuesdays it is folded and prepared in cooking baskets. Wednesday is baking day. And nothing is baked for the rest of the week. “When it’s finished, it’s finished,” says Julian. Luckily, the team has a variety of other treats and freshly baked cakes ready for you. And if you’re not in the mood for coffee, there’s always a long drink. Especially as the Konvent is open until the evening.
Organic, regional and sustainable. These are not just buzzwords for Julian. It is important to him that he knows producers and suppliers. In some cases, close friendships have developed. The concept also includes a cooperation with Too-good-to-go. In addition, there are good connections with the association Aegidienhof. Quite in the spirit of the verb convenire. With his team, Julian focuses on self-management and offers development opportunities to dedicated employees.
My interview with Julian turns into a lively exchange about the challenges currently facing the entire hospitality industry. Julian is convinced that good gastronomy cannot be achieved at the push of a button. There is a lot of idealism involved. It also doesn’t hurt to have a bit of legal knowledge, to be skilful and to know a bit about psychology. And, of course, to have entrepreneurial vision. Which, fortunately, Julian has in his genes.
After all, the café is not just a café. Julian and his team are equally passionate about coffee roasting. All Konvent Roastery coffees are fair trade, direct trade and/or organic. You can buy your favourite coffee at the café or have it delivered to your door. The online shop also offers various products with the slogan “Caffeine instead of cocaine”. I like Julian’s credo that guests and team should meet at eye level. I think this fits with the times.To Café Konvent on Instagram