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Sorbet begone! Berlin’s dreamiest vegan ice cream

Leaps in innovation among Berlin’s gelato artisans mean that you don’t have to sacrifice velvety richness for a dairy-free treat. Here's the scoop on the best vegan Eis in town.

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Tribeca offers lusciously creamy, organic ice cream which is also free of dairy, gluten and soy – result! Photo: Tribeca Ice Cream

Just because you can’t digest lactose or you’re opposed to the dairy industry doesn’t mean you should be deprived of a scoop of creamy refreshment on a scorching summer’s day. Phew – you’re in Berlin, so you don’t have to! The city has become so much more vegan-friendly that by now virtually every Eisladen boasts cow-free options.

But too many menus still fall back on fruit sorbets which are only a lip-smacking treat if you’re a fruit bat, scurvy-prone pirate or a Berliner with an allergy to fun. So where do vegans in the know go to get their desserts? When frozen fruit just won’t cut it, here are Berlin’s best vegan ice cream options devoid of funky fillers such as dyes, artificial flavours, emulsifiers or vegetable fats.

Tribeca: Pure plant-based goodies 

Milk alternative: Coconut, almond or cashew milk, cold-pressed coconut oil 

Vegan cones? Yes 

Scoop price: €2.20 

Here you’ll find a lusciously creamy, organic ice cream that isn’t only free of milk products, but also gluten and soy-frei, and sweetened with white sugar-alternatives, such as coconut blossom or raw cane sugars, rice or maple syrups. There’s a great variety of creative flavours, including our two favourites: Salty Maca Caramel, (maca root, cashew milk, salted caramel thickened with locust bean gum), and a satisfying Pistachio Lucuma (organic green pistachios, sweet lucuma powder). The Blue Coconut gets its quirky night-purple tinge from the Butterfly pea tea and has a subtle flavour.

Raw Chocolate, however, is another story. Made with organic cocoa beans and sweetened with dried coconut sap and raw chocolate nibs. These scoops are a bit pricier than others on this list, but the quality of the ingredients and the final result are definitely worth the extra cents (card only!), as testified by the popularity of the tiny shop located on a pretty side street of the Kollwietz Kiez. Kreuzköllners rejoice: they’re set to open a second parlour near Hasenheide in June. If you can’t wait, if you are too lazy (or too hungry), just order a pint online ! (€9.90)

Tribeca, Rykestr. 40, Prenzlauer Berg, Tue-Sun 13-19, cards only; (second location in Kreuzberg from June)

Balaram: Soy good you can’t stop 

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Everything at Balaram is animal-free, including cones and toppings. Photo: Facebook/balaram.eis

Milk alternative: Soy, oat milk 

Vegan cones? Yes 

Scoop price: €1.50/€2 

With 18 regularly changing flavours such as New York Cheesecake and Florentine Hazelnut along with fruit sorbets, it’s no wonder this Eisladen is swarmed by fashionable foodies with their babies and dogs in tow. If you can handle the frenetic customers, you’ll be rewarded with a tower of icy delight and free toppings such as crushed nuts and gooey caramel sauce (be careful with the sauce though, it overpowers other flavours).

All of Balaram’s ice cream is manufactured by Kontor Eismanufaktur Berlin, a vegan ice cream maker in Prenzlauer Berg. Because everything here is animal-free, including cones and toppings, you can focus on flavours. The main dairy alternative is soy milk, used in Walnuss Brownie, Cookies Cream, Macadamia, Mango Lassi and the best-selling Crazy Peanut, to which you can add extra vegan cream. The soy-averse can try lemon and poppy seed, black sesame or espresso and hazelnut, all with an almond base. Come early: it’s consistently busy here and the non-fruity flavours go first! 

Balaram, Gabriel-Max-Str. 17, Friedrichshain, Mo-Fri 14-18, Sat-Sun 12-18

Gelateria Mos Eisley: Hip vegan

Image for Sorbet begone! Berlin’s dreamiest vegan ice cream

Maintaining Italian tradition, Mos Eisley’s ice cream is made fresh in-house daily.  Photo: Sarah Heuser/HiPi

Milk alternative: Soy, almond, coconut milk 

Vegan cones? Yes 

Scoop price: €1.40/€1.60 

It would be a crime against coolness not to include this Eisladen, which is named after the Star Wars spaceport town and has been feeding the fashionable picnickers at Tempelhofer Feld since 2013. Judging by the line outside, plenty of other Berliners think so too. Hang in there though, service is fast. Owner Daniela Teuber, discovered her passion on a trip to Italy when she took a course at Gelato University of Bologna. Maintaining the Italian tradition, her ice cream is made fresh in-house daily. Nearly half of the assortment is vegan, with pictures of a cow on the menu as if to say no moo-moos hurt here!

When you subtract all the fruit sorbets, there are usually between one and three other vegan choices every day, made with soy, almond or coconut milk. The soy ice creams come in flavours such as Soy Peanut Crunch, Soy Matcha and Soy Hazelnut. For eco-warriors who have renounced the bean, there is the option of a banana, peanut and almond milk ice cream, or a chocolate treat made with coconut milk. The sorbet section is equally snazzy, boasting a potent chocolate one, as well as the interesting Tannenzäpfle beer sorbet (€2 per scoop). Try the Soy Matcha Green Tea if it’s available and combine with a vegan waffle for a matcha made in heaven. No vegan pistachio, too bad!

Gelateria Mos Eisley, Herrfurthplatz 6, Neukölln, Mo-Sun 12-20

Early Bird: Going nutty 

Image for Sorbet begone! Berlin’s dreamiest vegan ice cream

Early Bird serves vegan ice cream in pistachio, raw chocolate, mango and peanut butter & jam flavours among others. Photo: Early Bird

Milk alternative: Nuts (or water-based)

Vegan cones? Yes 

Scoop price: €1.80 (€2.20 for two flavours in a cup)

This cosy Italian-owned café in Prenzlauer Berg’s quiet Winskiez doesn’t only serve the best espresso this side of the Prenzlauer Allee; it’s also got the neighbourhood’s best artisanal nutty Eis. As well as the dairy options, there are sorbets and six vegan treats each day, such as pistachio, raw chocolate, mango and peanut butter (and jam). Our must-try favourite is the salty pistachio, made from loose Piemonte pistachios roasted in-house to control the intensity. It’s so deliciously creamy you’d be damned to guess it doesn’t contain any milk, dairy or otherwise.

According to Lorenzo Lodi (who runs the place and wrote all the recipes), the best way to achieve dairy-free creaminess is to use nuts with a decent fat content (pistachio has 12 percent), then add a little rice oil for silky smoothness – minimalism with full flavour. Early Bird’s clientèle is an eclectic mix of fellow Italians, business casual millennials and sassy international Muttis on their daily childcare break. And here ice cream is not just for dessert, so don’t be surprised to see body-conscious morning customers forego carbs for the city’s best nutty ice cream.

Early Bird, Winsstr. 68, Prenzlauer Berg, Mo-Sun 8-18

Cuore di Vetro: Eis that rocks 

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Prize-winning recipes are perfected in the glass-walled kitchen of Cuore di Vetro’s small Mitte café. Photo: Cuore di Vetro

Milk alternative: Almond, coconut 

Vegan cones? No 

Scoop price: €2

We already knew that Angelika Kaswalder and Guido Dorigo served up some of the tastiest gelato in the city, with prize-winning recipes perfected in the glass-walled kitchen of their small Mitte café. But thankfully they’re also extremely vegan-friendly. Apparently we should thank musician power couple Alexander Hacke (of Einstürzende Neubauten fame) and Danielle de Picciotto for that: five vegan flavours were created for their animal-free wedding anniversary at Cuore di Vetro. Next to the to-die-for pistachio or best-selling, Bowie-inspired White Duke (almond butter, peach jam, caramelised almonds), and the many fruit sorbets (try the melon), there are now more creamy treats which change daily for the dairy-free. These include the feisty Sanctuary, inspired by Hacke’s album of the same name, an intensely dark and spicy chilli chocolate sorbet textured with peanut butter for smoothness, as well as de Picciotto’s sublimely nutty Luminous, made out of almond milk and paste and topped with more (home-caramelised) almonds.

But the devil here is in the unusual, almost refreshing kick brought by the rose extract, and enhanced by the floral bitter-sweetness of muscovado sugar. Thanks, Danielle! More almond milk – cut with coconut milk this time – comes with the zesty Lemon Incest, a smooth lemon cream infused with verbena that Kaswalder dedicated to Mick Harvey, the Australian musician. There’s also ‘nonpareils’ – a coconut sorbet with cinnamon & hibiscus. In case you wondered: half of the flavours are inspired by Kaswalder and Dorigo’s favourite musicians. And yes, the music rocks here – from Bowie to Neubauten – until the evening (or until the neighbours call the cops). So does the kick-arse duo behind the EXB team’s favourite Eisladen. They opened a second branch in Friedrichshain last July, so there’s even more fun to go round.

Max-Beer-Str. 33, Mitte, Mo-Sun 12-21; Simon-Dach-Straße 40, Friedrichshain, Mo-Fri 14-21, Sa-So 12-21

Delabuu Ice Cream: Roll, roll, roll your Eis…

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Thai-style ice cream rolls with a vegan base at Delabuu in Friedrichshain. Photo: Delabuu Ice Cream

Milk alternative: It’s a secret – literally (but 100% allergen and diary free)

Vegan cones? N/A

Scoop price: From three rolls for €4

For something a little different and even more Instagrammable, head to Berlin’s first cold-plate ice creamery. Delabuu in Friedrichshain uses an entirely vegan base to create Thai-style ice cream rolls covered in your pick of 14 sauces and 12 toppings – 70 percent of which contain zero animal products. When pressed on the non-dairy base for the ice cream, the owner tells us it’s a secret, but that it’s been certified 100 percent  allergen-free. Which somehow makes it all the more exotic. Recommended combos include ‘Monkey Business’ – banana and vegan Nutella topped with caramelised hazelnuts, and ‘The Freshy’ – Strawberry, lime and mint with coconut flakes. The rolls come tucked into a Becher ready to be dismantled with a spoon.

Delabuu Ice Cream, Krossener Str. 15, Friedrichshain, Mo-Sun 13-20

Tanne B: Family-run spot with vegan classics

Milk alternative: Soy

Vegan cones? Yes

Scoop price: €1.20

Since 2004, this little family business has been serving reliably good artisan ice cream to the vegans and non vegans of Berlin. The shop at Lausitzer Platz has since been joined by branches at Marheineke Halle in Bergmannkiez and Charlottenburg, and they use a soy base for their classics: chocolate, vanilla, almond, stracciatella, et al. Pride is taken in their vegan wares, and all products are labelled clearly so you don’t need to ask what’s dairy-free. You can even indulge in a squirt of plant-based whipped cream if you’re feeling indulgent in a principled way.

Tanne B, Eisenbahnstr. 48, Lausitzer Platz, Kreuzberg, Mo-Sun 11-19; Marheineke Markthalle, Kreuzberg Mo-Sun 12-19; Kantstraße 117a, Charlottenburg Mo-Sun 12-19