Not much would happen here in LA without our morning fix. It's our perfectly brewed daily drug that makes traffic on the 101 forgivable and keeps us from throwing tantrums at the office. Coffee is a daily and that's why we've been thinking a lot more about where our coffee is from and what it supports. This is our list of LA coffee shops that are fair trade and community focused. These shops are helping our morning cup be a part of changing the world around us.
1. Groundwork Coffee
Groundwork is all cool. Its flagship store in Venice is housed in a converted horse stable and its culture and values all point back to ideas of simplicity and sustainability. Groundwork's organic blends are sourced from direct, fairly traded farm relationships and their brewing process is focused on environmental sustainability at every step. That means that their roasting facility is complete with solar panels, and their packaging is sourced from sustainable materials. Groundwork brews are Los Angeles favorites and can be found in Venice, Santa Monica, Hollywood and Downtown LA. These guys are leading the fair trade coffee conversation and we are proud to make them our morning fix.
2. TOMS Coffee Bar
We all love what TOMS has done to make social enterprises a household idea. TOMS has kept their one-for-one model in their new coffee product line by providing one week of clean water to a person in need for every bag of coffee purchased. Because of TOMS’ direct trade practices, farmers are guaranteed the best prices for their craft. And clean water is sourced straight back to the same regions and countries where they purchase their beans. The flagship TOMS store in Venice Beach has a full coffee bar where you can try their blends and enjoy their outdoor & indoor cafe space.
3. Cafecito Organico
Cafecito Organico was started when the founder began developing direct relationships with farmers in Central America. Their first small batches were brewed in an LA garage and things have been pretty cool ever since. Cafecito Organico now has cafes in East hollywood, Silverlake, Costa Mesa, Malibu and Anaheim. Their brews have stayed true to their roots and focus on sustainable fair trade relationships with family farms and small growers of high quality beans. Their roasting methods focus on roasting for the origin characteristics of the coffee. Their mission proudly boasts a commitment to great coffees, grown on earth, by humans. Not a bad promise when you think about it.
4. Another Kind of Sunrise
Another Kind of Sunrise is a hidden gem on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice Beach. The café and cereal bar provides food that is organic, locally sourced and environmentally friendly. The delicious Buttery Brew is a fair-trade, organic blend made with a spoonful of raw coconut oil and grass fed ghee. The healthy fats from the coconut oil and ghee keep caffeine in your system longer and minimize acidity while helping your system to retain vital nutrients. At Another Kind of Sunrise they believe strongly in raw, anti-GMO food that is organic, ethical and of course delicious.
5. Manifesto Cafe
Manifesto Cafe is a social enterprise cafe and market that serves Los Angelino-themed artisan sandwiches, fair trade coffee, teas, produce, healthy snacks and pre-packaged meals. All their products are sourced from local, socially-conscious small businesses. The cafe hires at-risk local residents in the community, providing them on-site job training, workshops, access to financial resources, and linkage to social services. Manifesto also hosts several community events throughout the year that promote civic engagement, community togetherness and advance the identity of Skid Row; such as art exhibitions, town hall meetings, and other special events. Currently the cafe is working on a campaign to provide 100 meals for starving seniors in the Skid Row area of Downtown, Los Angeles.
6. Muddy Paw Coffee
Muddy Paw Coffee is a classic win-win. The cafe was founded by brothers, Derek and Darren LaBorie and inspired by their three dogs. The pet-friendly cafe serves organic, fair trade coffee and donates proceeds from every purchase to local animal rescues. In addition to great coffee, pastries, (and dog treats), the cafe hosts frequent events for pets and their owners and has a covered outdoor space in the back for lounging around with your favorite four legged friend.
7. With Love LA
With Love LA is a social enterprise in the heart of Southwest LA on Vermont and Washington Blvd. They were founded to bring healthier food options to their community where diabetes rates are 3x higher than the rest of Los Angeles. Their cafe and market serves single origin coffee, sandwiches and an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables (think farmers market). Paired with their sustainable packaging and local internship programs, these guys are making a real difference in their community. Swing by for a cup of coffee or a pastry next time you are in the area, these guys are worth it.
8. MADE Café
MADE by DWC Cafe and Gift Boutique is a bright and cheery cafe located at the Downtown Women’s Center near Skid Roe in Downtown, LA. The cafe serves organic coffee, teas and pastries sources from local companies like Groundwork, Simply Salad and their own line of handbaked pastry products. The cafe employs the women of the Downtown Homeless Center assisting in their transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency and all of the proceeds of the gift items go back to support the work of the Downtown Women’s Center.
9. HomeGirl Cafe
Greg Boyle is an LA native and has been working with youth in the LA gang culture for 20+ years. He started Homeboy industries in 1992 and his mission was to create an environment that provided training, work experience and the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side. Homegirl Cafe is a division of Homeboy Industries and is a full kitchen, cafe and bakery that provides employees with fundamental job skills in a supportive environment. Along with job training in the cafe, the trainees also receive legal services, tattoo removal, education services and counseling services.
10. The Coffee Connection
The Coffee Connection is located in West LA in a converted Italian restaurant complete with Baroque architecture, archways, a gated courtyard and marble colonnades. It has rave reviews on yelp as a great study spot or a place for lunch dates. The shop serves brews blends from Grounds for Change which sources fair trade products and uses proceeds to support a number of social initiatives ranging from the protection of women in Mexico to environmental activism in the Northwest. All in all, Grounds for Change and the Coffee Connection are worth a visit.