8 Outstanding Ethical Coffee Shops That Give Back

ethical coffee

Ethical coffee. Photo: Glen Carrie/Unsplash; Edited: Jessie on a Journey

Even in the midst of a corporate conglomerate, independent ethical coffee shops and roasting companies across the United States not only hold their own in providing daily java fixes, but also giving their time and profits to noteworthy causes.

From local measures to global endeavors, here are eight locations you can feel good about getting a caffeine boost from.

ethical coffee

Mocha Joe’s Roasting Co. conducts a direct trade project in Cameroon. Photo via Mocha Joe’s Roasting Co.

1. Mocha Joe’s Roasting Company 

Brattleboro, Vermont

Along with offering organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance coffees, this roaster/wholesale supplier and café has a direct trade project in Cameroon, Africa that has helped to build a specialty coffee industry there.

In exporting the region’s first specialty grade, and later organic coffee, Mocha Joe’s offers strong financial returns to those who supply these beans.

Cameroon farmers are given 30% above market price for organic and 20% for non-organic.

Mocha Joe’s goes even further in helping to fund a no-interest loan micro-financing program and benefits including free educational courses in agriculture.

ethical coffee

Land of a Thousand Hills has a direct trade partnership with coffee growers in Rwanda. Photo via Land of a Thousand Hills

2. Land of a Thousand Hills

Roswell, Georgia

Established a decade ago to encourage healing in Rwanda in the aftermath of the country’s civil war and genocide, this company’s “Drink Coffee, Do Good” philosophy aims to foster economic sustainability within the communities of this African region through direct trade.

The company sources beans right from Rwandan farmers and roasts them at its metro Atlanta location, plus has locations in Virginia, Florida, Texas, and Massachusetts.

In addition to coffee, Land of a Thousand Hills has a nonprofit partner called the Do Good Initiative, which finds ways to support Rwanda’s communities through various measures.

Vanuatu Coffee Roasters

Vanuatu Coffee Roasters is helping farmers in this South Pacific region develop a profitable crop. Photo via Vanuatu Coffee Roasters

3. Vanuatu Coffee Roasters 

Providence, Rhode Island

In the city’s Federal Hill section, this coffee company partners with farmers on the Tanna Island of the Republic of Vanuatu not just to bring beans from the South Pacific to the U.S., but also to stem the tide of the exodus of the island’s youth in search of being able to provide for their families.

The Rhode Island shop has partnered with both the island’s coffee cooperative, INIK, and its joint venture partner, Tanna Coffee Plantations, to help further develop Vanuatu’s fledging coffee industry.

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Beau’s Coffee provides meaningful employment to individuals with special needs. Photo via Beau’s Coffee

4. Beau’s Coffee

Wilmington, North Carolina

This coffee shop — started in 2016 by a couple with two children that have Down Syndrome — creates job opportunities for people with intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities.

Almost 20 employees work here, and the setting has been said to promote good interaction from both sides of the counter, as employees do everything from greeting customers to handling the cash register to serving up drinks.

COFFEED

Each Coffeed location gives up to 10 percent of store earnings to a charity within its area. Photo via Coffeed

5. Coffeed

Various locations throughout New York City

With its flagship venue in Long Island City, plus a dozen sites throughout New York and one shop in Seoul, this single-origin coffee shop focuses highly on giving locally.

Each branch pairs up with a charity in or around its location and donates 3-10% of its gross revenue.

Through a partnership with the Brooklyn Grange, Coffeed sources the majority of their produce served from an acre-sized roof at its LIC location.

The Roosevelt Coffeehouse focuses on charities supporting clean water and ending hunger and human trafficking.

The Roosevelt Coffeehouse focuses on charities supporting clean water and ending hunger and human trafficking. Photo via The Roosevelt Coffeehouse

6. The Roosevelt Coffeehouse

Columbus, Ohio

Since opening in April 2015, this downtown coffee hotspot has been driven by a mission of providing “good through a cup” through championing three global issues:

Promoting clean water and fighting both hunger and human trafficking.

The shop partners with about a dozen (and fellow) nonprofits based in Ohio and abroad to consistently support their initiatives.

As coffee is the key component in this operation, the Roosevelt Coffeehouse serves Columbus’ own One Line Coffee and Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Swell Coffee

Swell Coffee uses eco-friendly practices within its stores and donates to environmental causes with California. Photo via Swell Coffee

7. Swell Coffee Co.

San Diego and Del Mar, California

With its HQ in San Diego, this artisan coffee company incorporates a green approach toward running its operations on less waste.

L.E.D. lighting and Energy Star-certified appliances cut down on energy, using low-flow faucets and a tankless water heater, and encouraging for-here cups and tableware instead of one-time use products.

In addition to eco-friendly business measures, Swell Coffee does local initiatives:

Helping to form Beautiful Mission Beach, a nonprofit for the beautification of this area; becoming an ocean-friendly certified restaurant with Surfrider Foundation; and raising money for San Diego Coastkeeper, which monitors local water quality.

The Haven Coffee House

Co-founded by two ladies, The Haven Coffee House supports women’s related missions. Photo via Columbia, SC CVB

8. The Haven Coffee House

Lexington, South Carolina

This downtown nonprofit shop/store puts women first in giving a portion of every cup bought or gift item sold to Life Restored International, a ministry mentoring women in the Midlands of South Carolina going through personal hardships, plus an international component focused on a South African ministry.

Area groups are also permitted to use space in the shop to hold Bible studies as well as meetings for grief and loss support groups.

Speaking of women, the US has some truly inspiring female coffee roasters, as that linked article proves.

What’s your favorite ethical coffee shop that gives back in the USA? Please share in the comments below!

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Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World by Mark Pendergrast [Great Reads]

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Michele Herrmann splits her time between New England and New York City, and has gotten much better at packing light with her back and forth trips. She has jaunted across Europe and up, down and across the United States and even as far as the South Pacific. She's grateful for being able to dispense travel stories and advice through media outlets and companies (as well as putting her BA in English to good use). Her blog She Is Going Places serves as her way to encourage others to get out and exploring!

4 Comments

  1. Thank you, Michele for your post. I strongly believe “Ethical Coffee” is important given the size of the global coffee trade.

    I came across a roaster with an adjoining coffee shop in Canada called Ethical Bean Coffee Company. They are also community focussed and give back to those in need via Child Aid and Project Somos. I use their “lush” product which is a medium dark roast – closer to dark actually and it makes a great espresso IMO.

  2. It’s so nice to hear about companies that give back, especially in this day and age. We need more businesses like these. Thanks for shining a light on such interesting companies and their efforts to do good.

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