Local Coffee Shops Doing Global Good
The coffee industry is truly one of the most global industries, touching the hands of everyone from the Ethiopian smallholder farmer to the Colombian cherry picker, Italian espresso roaster, and end consumer in the third-wave coffee shop: you and me.
Serving as a gathering place (in the words of Starbucks, the “third place” between home and work) and providing a jolt of energy in the AM, coffee really does make the world go ‘round.
Over 90% of coffee production takes place in developing countries, so we’re excited by the latest wave of coffee shops looking to do good—by sourcing fair-trade beans, giving back through nonprofit partners, or employing marginalized groups. Here are 33 coffee shops in the United States looking to shake up the $100 billion industry, featuring some names you might recognize, too (Hugh Jackman, anyone?).
At Elevate Coffee Co, a neighborhood cafe, 10 cents from every latte is donated to Water 4 Kids International, a nonprofit committed to providing safe water for children in Africa. The Norterra Room inside the cafe is also perfect for business meetings, surround sound included.
Kibo Midnight Oil is roadside coffee house in a small town of Arkansas with a big mission: to tackle poverty in East Africa. All proceeds from this coffeeshop (and its sister cafes in Rochester, Michigan and Uganda) go towards Kibo Group, the nonprofit umbrella that works to provide things like clean water and economic opportunity.
Los Angeles, CA
At the TOMS flagship in Venice Beach, featuring the famous “one for one” alpargata shoes (in limited edition colors and styles), stop by and grab some beans at TOMS Coffee, too. For each bag of coffee sold, TOMS will provide a week of clean water to someone in need through nonprofit partners with Water For People that build clean water systems. Check out TOMS Coffee locations also in Chicago, Austin, and New York.
Rosebud Coffee in San Gabriel Valley brews coffee with a cause by empowering the homeless and at-risk youth that are behind the counter, topping off your cappuccino with foam. The cafe also partners with a do-good roaster, Wild Goose, which donates 10 pounds of food for every pound of beans sold. Beyond that, the cafe also partners with a local high school and foster care center in order to facilitate mentoring relationships in the community.
San Diego, CA
City Heights Coffee House is a nonprofit coffeeshop that believes in second chances, employing at-risk youth to create what they call "culturally authentic" drinks. Try the Cafe de Olla latte or the Persian black tea in this alleyway hole-in-the-wall.
The Spring Cafe was founded as an offshoot of the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning, a nonprofit serving Denver's immigrant and refugee community. As it follows, the cafe is a practical way to provide refugees with training in the customer service industry. For customers that answer a global trivia question correct, they get 10% off their order!
Housed in a historic schoolhouse, Boyer's is a family-owned, eco-conscious cafe that seeks to make a positive impact globally using coffee. The cafe is an active supporter of Denver Rescue Mission, and donates both proceeds and coffee to the nonprofit. Once a hidden gem, Boyer's has now been contracted by Walmart to help the retail giant enter the third-wave of coffee.
Located on the outskirts of Orlando, Duo 58 Cafe is a nonprofit social enterprise, providing both coffee and catering, to the local community. For every purchase made, DUO58 partners with Mission of Hope to provide education and meals for a child in Haiti. The cafe also has a year-long part-time job program for individuals looking for a stepping stone into something more stable.
Started by graduate students at Northwestern University, BCBC Coffee Lab seeks to love its neighbors and donates a portion of proceeds to organizations like Sustainable Action International working in Haiti. The coffeeshop—which serves its coffee in lab beakers—is also known to provide skills training for those who are experiencing long term job loss or homelessness.
The “one for one” slip-on shoe company has expanded from its LA flagship and also now brews coffee in the Wicker Park store, to help provide clean water in developing countries for every bag of beans sold.
The suicide prevention nonprofit Hope for the Day partnered with roaster Dark Matter Coffee to open this social enterprise coffee shop in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. As a move to break the silence surrounding suicide, 100 percent of net proceeds go towards suicide prevention, and all staff—from baristas to volunteers—are also certified in Mental Health First Aid. That’s what we call sipping hope.
Nashville locals will recognize The Well Coffeehouse, which opened a location in Fishers right outside Indianapolis in 2016. As the name suggests, The Well is a faith-based nonprofit cafe that also builds wells in developing countries.
St. Louis, MO
The third wave, multi-roaster coffee boasts two locations in St. Louis, and is officially an extension of Art Saint Louis, a nonprofit organization that beautifies St. Louis through the work of local artists. Featuring a rotating wheel of roasters—such as Equator Coffee, Vessel Coffee Roasters, Arcade and Steadfast—you’re bound to find something you like.
Dogwood Coffee Co. is a specialty coffee roaster brewing its own espresso bearing unique names like Neon Espresso, Zamboni Cold Brew, and Mixtape Vol. 34. Dogwood Coffee is also an official member of 1% for Humanity, meaning it commits at least 1% of its income to help fight extreme poverty and injustice worldwide. In the past, the cafe has donated money to build a well in northern Ethiopia with charity: water.
New York City, NY
Hugh Jackman’s coffee social enterprise was inspired on a visit to Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. At the brick-and-mortar cafe locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, you’ll find flat whites (Hugh is Australian, after all) alongside specialty drinks like the honey lavender latte. If you’re not in the 10001 zip code, you can also buy their coffee and K-cups online—Laughing Man is actually the first to create a recyclable K-cup. Proceeds go towards coffee farmers and their families, including the current project sponsoring housing improvements and college scholarships for farmers in Colombia.
FEED’s first retail location has a cafe that’s equally dedicated to the nonprofit's mission of providing school meals to children around the world. Impressively, the cafe partnered with popular roaster La Colombe to create a special FEED Heritage coffee blend for this location. While you sip your cold brew, check out the shop’s featured assortment of its signature burlap tote bags and rotating curation of other socially conscious finds.
With over 12 locations all across New York, this Long Island City-based roaster also supports charities such as The Foundling, which works to support foster children in New York, and the New York Restoration Project which supports underfunded public spaces and plants trees, renovates gardens, and revitalizes parks.
The “one for one” slip-on shoe company has expanded from its LA flagship and also now brews coffee in New York City to help provide clean water in developing countries for every bag of beans sold.
Chapel Hill, NC
The Meantime is a student-run, nonprofit coffee shop located in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Center for Social Justice and Social Innovation. Brewing beans from local Carrboro Coffee Roasters, the coffee shop re-invests its profits into student scholarships and grants for those making an impact on campus.
This downtown establishment brews coffee for three specific causes: clean water, fighting hunger, and fighting human trafficking. The trendy cafe brews both Stumptown Roasters and One Line Coffee, and donates its proceeds to a handful of nonprofits like Food for the Hungry working in global issues.
The Monkey & The Elephant is Philly’s first nonprofit coffee shop, employing former foster youth that are at greater risk of experiencing incarceration, homelessness and reliance on welfare. The cafe brews single-origin coffees from Philadelphia-based roasters including Other Animal, Square One Coffee, and more. Don’t forget to stop by the garden in the back!
The Haven Coffeehouse sources beans directly from farmers in Guatemala and roasts them in house. The coffee shop also partners with nonprofit Lighthouse For Life in order to end human trafficking in the US, and provide restoration to young girls caught in the trade. It's also the only locally-owned coffee shop in town, so coffee here is both a good and an obvious choice.
The “one for one” slip-on shoe company has expanded from its LA flagship and also now brews coffee right on South Congress Avenue to help provide clean water in developing countries for every bag of beans sold.
Greater Goods Coffee in Austin is all about amazing craft coffee, while supporting local charities. Their roasting process even has clean emissions and requires 80% less energy consumption compared to other roasters. Check out one of two cafe locations, supporting local charities including Boys & Girls Club, Austin Pets Alive!, and the Central Texas Food Bank.
Featuring seven locations, Ascension Coffee is an Australian concept cafe that also believes deeply in international development in coffee-producing regions, especially in countries experiencing crisis. To date, Ascension has created direct trade partnerships with farmers in Papua New Guinea, rehabilitated a coffee plantation in post-war Rwanda, and built clean water wells in South Sudan.
Union Coffee, born out of a group of church friends, is a cozy cafe brewing Onyx Coffee Lab where 10% of all proceeds go towards a local nonprofit, which rotates every four months. Past organizations have included the North Texas Food Bank and Project Transformation, among others.
Despite the misleading name, Paper Co. Cafe is all about coffee (specifically, family-owned coffee roaster Mueva Coffee) and good food: we’re talking fish tacos, chicken and waffles, and even corn dogs at this industrial-chic cafe. But the food isn’t just for the cafe regulars; Paper Co also helps feed the homeless in the community with a daily meal and monthly BBQ. Grabbing your keys? Look for the robin's egg blue door against a white brick wall.
2nd Cup is a nonprofit coffee shop that's raising awareness about the alarming problem of human trafficking in Houston, one of the most intense regions for human trafficking, according to the Department of Justice. Social justice advocates love this bright spot, where the baristas work as volunteers and the walls feature shocking statistics about the trade. If you’re adventurous, ask for the "Secret Squirrel."
Opened by Beyoncé’s pastor Rudy Rasmus, who’s known for his humanitarian efforts, this cafe seeks to make a bigger impact...literally, through good coffee. It brews local roaster Amaya in a sleek space, with an orange roof and reclaimed walls from discarded shipping pallets. Beyond Beyoncé? The cafe serves hot meals to the homeless community of Downtown Houston, and also provides housing and other services to those looking to transition off the streets.
Fill up with a cup of joe at The Well, which also funds exactly that: wells that provide access to safe, clean drinking water in places like Malawi, Kenya, and Senegal. Try the "Georgia On My Mind" peach caramel latte, or the Tennessee Molasses featuring coffee-infused Dr. Pepper. If you live in the Nashville vicinity, you can check out locations in Bellevue, Brentwood, Downtown, Green HIlls, or Franklin.
Street Bean Coffee Roasters is a nonprofit organization that offers coffee-making skills training to young people who are seeking to get off the streets, partnering with New Horizons to create apprenticeships. Those wanting to get involved can stop by two locations in the DC vicinity, and each bag of coffee purchased will help fund one hour of job training so an at-risk youth can say “bean there, done that.”
Open since 1960, this historic nonprofit cafe has been a true community cafe, providing monthly free lunches and connecting members to resources such as healthcare and housing. In addition, the cafe hosts a mindful meditation class, composts its coffee grounds, and uses 100% wind-powered electricity. Once you order your masala chai, you'll be greeted by a back wall filled with a selection of books focusing on social justice, world religion, and memoirs.
Inspired by the word "mir," which is Russian for peace, the Seattle flagship of camping drinkware company (which has had collaborations with J.Crew) also features a cafe that gives back. Just how 5% of each Miir purchase has a trackable Give Code that shows which active giving project your purchase helped fund, the coffee by roaster Counter Culture gives back to build wells internationally and support nation-wide social good projects.
Alice is a California-based writer thinking on the things shaping urban living, the modern woman’s experience, and living a conscious life of impact in light of a bigger world. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, she recently spent a year abroad in Peru working with a microfinance project. You can follow her latest creative endeavors and musings at Mine Felicity or on Instagram at @alice.zhng.