Credit: Kaileen Diep is a Freshman at UC Berkeley majoring in Society and Environment.
#1. 1951 Coffee Company
2410 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
1951 Coffee Company is a non-profit coffee organization that provides many job opportunities and training to refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders. They are also working to educate the community about refugee life and issues.
This coffee shop, in my opinion, had the most welcoming and comfortable vibe. When I asked the employees questions, they did not hesitate to answer and help me. The staff was very kind to customers and each other, which makes for better quality coffee in my opinion.
Their mission is exemplified in their store, with maps and lots of informative visuals on their walls. They also implemented environmentally conscious practices in their coffee bars with reusable coffee stirrers which reduces their waste.
#2. Blue Bottle Coffee
2118 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
Walking into this coffee shop, you can’t help but notice the aesthetically pleasing linear design and the clean natural lighting of the cafe. There is a contemporary vibe and it seems as though many graduate students come here to study and work due to its distance from campus.
Blue Bottle uses single source coffee, as they believe that this practice builds strong interdependent relationships. Blue Bottle is able to sell high-quality single sourced coffee beans and the coffee growers have a consistent and stable source of income allowing them to reinvest in sustainable cultivation strategies. In their coffee displays, they show images of where each bag comes from; showing full transparency of their coffee sourcing.
Blue Bottle also features coffee bars supplied with reusable stirrers and spoons to reduce waste and water use. All of their food containers and coffee cups are also 100% compostable.
#3. Peet’s Coffee
Photographed: 2124 Vine St, Berkeley, CA
Peet’s coffee, found on almost any block around UC Berkeley’s campus, utilizes direct trade which is coffee beans bought directly from the growers.
This gives Peet’s Coffee more control over the way the coffee is grown as the social aspect of this exchange is just as important to them as the coffee itself. They also sell single origin coffee, which is solely from one producer. When I asked a staff member about their sustainability efforts, she told me they are trying to implement a recycling station in all of their stores.
When I visited Peet’s Coffee, I looked for labels on their coffee packaging and found a variety of fair trade labels. From their packaging, I found that Peet’s Coffee works with USDA Organic, Farmer Assistance, Rainforest Alliance, and Fair Trade labels.
#4. Pipeline Coffee Co
2131 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA
In search of more coffee shops that utilize fair trade labels, I found lesser known shops around the east bay. In Downtown Berkeley on Durant, Pipeline Coffee Co. sells fair trade coffee, which is proudly advertised on its windows. Even though it is not as well known as other bigger chains, I think businesses that source their coffee in environmentally conscious ways should be recognized.
#5. Yali’s Cafe
1920 Oxford St, Berkeley, CA
In their on-campus location in Stanley hall, it is always filled with students working, studying, or taking a break for the day. The student-staffed location is very busy and the staff all seem very close-knit.
#6. Philz Coffee
1600 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA
I felt very welcomed when I asked the staff about more information on their sustainability efforts.
Philz Coffee offers single origin coffee and requires evidence of every transactional stage from every farm to ensure total transparency in their coffee sourcing. They also encourage every partner in their supply chain to have at least one concrete social program.
One of the employees told me that they have social programs that work to better the quality of life of the farmers from which they source their coffee.
There was also a community board where they featured local businesses and workshops for customers to find. One of the employees I talked to informed me that all of their waste is compostable from their coffee grounds to their cups and lids. This was also evident in the multiple labeled waste bins.
#7. Caffe Strada
2300 College Ave, Berkeley, CA
Caffe Strada is a certified Bay Area Green Business. Because of its close proximity to campus, it is always filled with students and study groups. Even though it is difficult to find a table, the staff works very efficiently to serve you your coffee.
When looking at the menu, I saw a message that read “15 cents extra for compostable cup” and I think this encourages customers to bring their own reusable cups or order “for here” to reduce their overall waste.
To facilitate their waste reduction, their to-go cups are compostable and their napkins are 100% recycled.