The second most often asked question by tourists (right after “how do I get into Berghain”) is usually “what souvenirs should I buy in Berlin?” I know this for a fact because this is the most popular article on the blog. If you were looking for ideas on what to buy in Berlin, you’ve found the right spot.
But what constitutes a good souvenir from Berlin? I think a good souvenir is always a special item or memory with a story. It doesn’t have to be a purchase and it doesn’t have to have the letters BERLIN printed on the front, but it must be a prompt for a story to tell – something that will trigger a memory or a story about a trip or moment. I’ve tried to think of the typical or essential “Berlin” stories that many people who come here often share.
Roasted coffee beans from Five Elephant
Five Elephant is a great little coffee place in a far off corner of Reichenberger Straße, located between Görlitzer Park and Landwehrkanal. In the back of the shop, they have their own coffee roastery and bakery. They’ve become one of the major 3rd wave coffee suppliers in Berlin. Bring back a pack of their special beans as a memory of Berlins thriving coffee culture and especially that little corner of Kreuzberg.
Geza Schön’s Molecule 01 perfume
“Molecule 01” by Geza Schön haunted me for years in Berlin clubs before I finally found out the name and brand of the scent. This distinct fragrance is reserved for cool Berghain residents and art gallery hoes and Berlins absolute in-scene. Mix it with cigarette smoke and Molecule 01 is what Berlin’s nightlife smells like. Let me try to explain by quoting from the producers description:
Molecule 01 consists of the molecule Iso E Super pure and singular. Iso E Super is a molecule that hovers close to the skin to create an indefinable aura round the wearer. It is characterised by a hyper-modern cedarwood note with a velvety sensation. Perfumer Geza Schoen explains its allure: “Iso E Super is one of those skin-sexy scents that makes you want to nestle into it. It’s comforting, cocooning.”Molecule 01 Fragrance
Geza Schön, the creator of the Escentric series (of which Molecule 01 is part of) is regarded as a rebel and revolutionary of the fragrance world. His radical creations ignore the classic fragrance pyramid as well as the constraints of the market or industry. They have not only changed the perception of fragrances, but also the way they are created: Schön is the undisputed pioneer of the new German school of perfumery. And so it is just perfectly apt to consider his most popular fragrance Molecule 01 an icon of contemporary Berlin.
But frankly, this city doesn’t need yet another person to wear it, especially not to a Techno party. You, on the other hand, can start a revolution in your little hometown. Schön’s other perfumes, namely “Kinski” or the Biehl collection, are also worth checking out if you’re looking for more something even more unique. You can shop his most popular editions and works at KaDeWe.
Sunflower seeds and mixed nuts from Kreuzberg
Kreuzberg and Neukölln, the arguably hippest districts of Berlin, would be nothing today without their extensive cultural diversity. You can see the traces of the vibrant Middle Eastern cultures and the strong Turkish diaspora symbolized in the empty sunflower seed shells scattered on Oranienstraße and Sonnenallee. Especially in summer, you’ll see hundreds of people on the streets, popping seeds, smoking shishas and enjoying the urban cacophony of Berlin.
A perfect and very affordable souvenir is a freshly roasted pack of sunflower seeds or mixed nuts from Smyrna on Oranienstraße, or an equivalent on Sonnenallee. Your summer night stories in Kreuzberg are worth remembering long after you left the city.
The latest issue of 032c magazine
The “Best Magazine in the World” (as of 2007) – 032c – was born & raised in Berlin. Every concept store from here to Charlottenburg sells copies of it. It’s known for its red cover and, more importantly, for the in-depth articles on everything on the topics of Contemporary Art, Culture, Urbanology, Fashion, Literature and Architecture. 032c has become an incredibly important institution for the design and art scene in Berlin. Every issue is a work of art in itself, and a testament to a creative Berlin that is not poor but sexy anymore, but instead a highly professional environment with people who are committed to originality and innovation.
Grabbing the latest issue can be combined with a trip to a book store like Do You Read Me?, where other treasures in print await.
Techno Vinyl from Hard Wax
I’ll never forget the climax track of my first real party at Berghain in Berlin: Bicep were playing Panorama Bar at 8 AM on a Sunday and dropped ItaloJohnson’s 7A. People went absolutely bullshit crazy, the blinds were opened, and that was the moment I understood forever what this celebration of music and community and ecstasy was all about. The next day, I went to buy the vinyl at Hard Wax even though I didn’t have a player, but the record is still here to remind me of that moment in 2013.
Many famous DJs – Berghain and Tresor residents such as Marcel Dettmann, Prosumer and Cassy – began their careers as staff at the famous vinyl shop Hard Wax in Kreuzberg. This shop is one of the oldest sorted record stores in the field of electronic music and is regarded as an important communication point on the international techno scene. Many protagonists of the local music world call Hard Wax instrumental in the development of the techno scene of the early 1990s.
HARD WAX, Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44a/2. Hof, 10999 Berlin
Europe Hoodie from König Souvenir
Brexit, Trump, Refugee Crisis and what have you not. Amidst the global political turmoil, Berlin has definitely become the center of a united European force. The EUnify hoodie, brought to Berlin by famous gallery owner Johan König and his own souvenir shop full of references to his artists, has become not only a fashion statement but also a cultural phenomenon among young people and Europeans everywhere.
Chocolate from Sawade Berlin
Sawade is Berlin’s oldest chocolate factory. The manufactory was founded in 1880 “Unter den Linden” in the centre of Berlin. Within 100 years, many specialist shops stocked the high-quality delicacies, because customers appreciated the special quality. The brand shaped the Berlin cityscape and was in demand and sold throughout Germany. Today, the brand is making a strong comeback with fine chocolates and truffles which I can only recommend as wonderful, Berlin-made gifts for parents and other people who expect more than sunflower seeds. People who love intricate design and unique things will fall in love with their boxes as well.
Berlin MitVergnügen Handbook
The editors of the famous Berlin city magazine MitVergnügen have released a very comprehensible Berlin guide (unfortunately, only in German). Unlike most city guides for Berlin, the tips in this book are not sorted by district or district, but by situations of all kinds_ Where is the best place to go if you want to take your loved one out to Date Night? Where is the best place to eat with your parents? What can we do if we are hungover but still motivated to go out? And where can we forget our heartache – or at least drown in good drinks? On over 300 pages MitVergnügen have advice for any case you could think of.
Berlin Kidz: Fuck The System DVD
Who in their right mind would order a DVD? Humor me, because this one’s worth it:
Berlin Kidz is a collective of sprayers, train surfers, parkour runners and artists from Berlin-Kreuzberg. The members pursue a system-critical approach that is wide-spread in Berlin: large-format, vertical lettering (mostly red and blue) in the Brazilian Pichação style are abundant, sprayed onto facades that are difficult to reach with the help of climbing equipment.
Berlin Kidz have become underground proper icons of Berlin. In their 2nd released documentary FUCK THE SYSTEM, which premiered in 2017, you can witness the daring stunts for yourself. It’s a limited edition but still available in some online-shops and stores in Berlin. Grab it if you can or watch it… here: