MILL AT THE RAMPART

In the olden days the Mühle am Wall (Mill at the rampart) was not at all unique. Until the middle of the last century, the Bremen ramparts were home to six windmills that supplied the population with many varieties of flour. Only one survived over time: the “Ansgaritorsmühle” – also called "Herdentorsmühle” or “Mühle auf der Gießhausbastion“.
   
It is best to remember the mill’s current name: “Kaffeemühle” (coffee mill) – because its story is the one we want to tell you today.

In the last centuries, millers settled wherever flour had to be ground. They looked either for a rushing stream or river (such as the Weser) or for a small hill where the wind would blow a little harder than in the North German lowlands. Little by little about one dozen windmills were eventually built on the hilltops outside the gates of Bremen as well as on the bastions of the fortifications.

The original “Kaffeemühle” was built by Moritz Meier in 1699. His first mill had to give way to a fortification (the Doventorswall), and his subsequent new building did not last very long either. The complaints of competitors (yes, even back then...) were the reason that, soon, he had to build again, this time on the Junkers-Bastion along the ramparts (where the Olbers Planetarium was erected in 1850). However, this precursor of today’s building did not last long either. The wind conditions were so poor that he picked a windier place and moved to the location where today you drink your coffee, enjoy your cocktail or eat your meal in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.

For more than 100 years it was quiet around the mill, suggesting that it was home to respectable owners who did not cheat their customers or annoy their competition too much. In 1832, however, the “Kaffeemühle” burned down. A year later, the location was sold to the mill builder Erling, who immediately planned the construction of a modern new mill: He specified the high tower so the wind could better seize the sails than was the case for the old building.

Only little is known about the subsequent decades; it once again became quiet around the “Kaffeemühle”. But technology advanced, and windmills became increasingly unprofitable since steam-operated machines ground flour faster and cheaper. As a result, the owner was willing to sell his mill, and the city of Bremen seized the opportunity (for less than a third of the estimated price – politicians back then were really good at math….).

In 1891, the Bremen citizens agreed to the purchase, but had only a few years to enjoy this decision. In 1898 - in the midst of a horrific snowstorm - the millwork caught fire. Fortunately, the fire brigade was able to save the substructure; even the sails stayed attached to the top.

After the fire, the citizens assailed the responsible “Deputation für die Spazierge” to rebuild the mill. The deputation agreed “in the interest of the peculiarities of the landscape of our ramparts“, and around 1900 the mill once again shone with its previous beauty. However, from this point on flour was seldom ground along the ramparts. After World War II (which the mill survived only thanks to a lot of luck and the extraordinary efforts of its tenant), the senate finally allowed the tenant to open a driving school in the mill. This driving school existed until 1997 – the mill was then renovated, an extension was added (based on historical models) and the mill at the ramparts became the “Kaffeemühle”. Once again, the mill is used for grinding: not flour, but coffee - the “Kaffeemühlen-Mischung” (coffee mill blend).