With in-person classes starting up again this week, Concordia students will be back in the city. It’s no secret that there will be many sleepless nights studying (umm, more like partying, for now anyways). That being said, one thing students in general live off of, especially for those next day 8:30 am classes, is coffee. Luckily, there are a lot of great coffee shops in close proximity to both Concordia campuses to help recover from those late nights. However, next time you decide to grab a quick coffee between classes or sitting down to study, you should look out for these top eight elements that will prove your fave coffee shop is in fact eco-responsible and sustainable. 


For the sustainability you don’t yet know.

How to spot sustainable coffee shops around campus

Written by: Victoria Paul

Edited by: Olivia Lafrenière

2021-09-05

With in-person classes starting up again this week, Concordia students will be back in the city. It’s no secret that there will be many sleepless nights studying (umm, more like partying, for now anyways). That being said, one thing students in general live off of, especially for those next day 8:30 am classes, is coffee. Luckily, there are a lot of great coffee shops in close proximity to both Concordia campuses to help recover from those late nights. However, next time you decide to grab a quick coffee between classes or sitting down to study, you should look out for these top eight elements that will prove your fave coffee shop is in fact eco-responsible and sustainable. 

1. Is the coffee shop local? 

Meaning, is the coffee shop exclusive to a particular area or neighborhood? By encouraging and shopping at local coffee shops, you’re not only stimulating the economy in your community, you’re also reducing your environmental impact, hence, the importance of local coffee shops versus the highly franchised coffee chains.

2. Does your coffee shop offer a special discount if you bring your own reusable cup or container? 

Sometimes it’s not much, it could just be 0.25$ off the price of your coffee. If they do, that’s a great sign that shows they care about reducing their plastic waste and promoting the reduce, reuse, recycle motto.

3. Is the coffee ethically sourced?

You can answer this question by looking for bags marked with the fair trade or direct trade label to ensure that the coffee supports farmers and the environment. Fun fact: Concordia is a Fairtrade Campus. All coffee on campus is Fairtrade (other than at select franchises) and you can find options for Fairtrade tea, chocolate, sugar, and bananas.

4. Do they care about the end-of-life fate of their packaging materials? 

Are the coffee cups or wrappers compostable? If they are not made of single use plastics and offer reusable or paper straws, that’s a great indication your local coffee shop cares about promoting recyclable materials. Additionally, if the coffee shop offers paperless receipts, it can show their dedication to eliminating waste too. 

5. Do they offer dairy-free milk alternatives?

The possibilities are almost endless:  almond, cashew, coconut, macadamia, soy, oat. When it comes to being concerned about the environment, non-dairy milk consumes less water, grain, land and machinery. Thus, the CO2 emissions are much lower. In addition, raising cows is one of the highest contributors to global warming and therefore, by offering a dairy free alternative, the café is reducing its milk consumption and indirect emissions. 

6. Do they reuse their coffee grains?

Used coffee grounds act as a great fertilizer and can help with plant growth. They can also be composted, they repel insects and pests, neutralize odors and can even be used as a skin exfoliant! Take a look around during your next trip to see if you can spot some nice plants, compost system or a used coffee grounds bin. Beyond this, you can also look at their menu and see if they minimize food waste by donating leftover food to local food banks selling leftover items for half price the next day.

7. Do they use low energy coffee machines?

This might be harder to detect by just looking at the machines, however, if you notice the machines are smaller, use less water or make less noise than the typical coffee machine, these may indicate the use of low energy consumption machines. Quiet is better, especially when you’re trying to study!

8. Do they offer eco-friendly solutions beyond just coffee?

Does the coffee shop sell any reusable mugs, bags, straws and other eco-friendly products? By selling such products, the café is encouraging its clients to engage in a more eco-friendly lifestyle. 

So next time you plan on grabbing a quick cup of coffee or study at your go-to coffee shop, consider keeping an eye out for these elements. If you notice none of the elements mentioned above stand out, maybe it’s time to start looking for a new coffee shop. Lucky for you, there are many places that offer great coffee all while being sustainable. Bonus: there are some directly on campus, or just a few steps away from Concordia. 

Here are some of our team members’ favourite cafés

  • Hives Co-Op Café (located in the Hall Building at SGW campus and next to the Library on the Loyola campus) P.S. This cafe also serves free meals to students if you bring your own container through their meals on wheels program!
  • Brûlerie FARO-Roasting House Montréal (1444 Saint-Catherine St W Suite a, Montreal, Quebec)
  • Café Myriade (1432 Mackay St, Montreal, Quebec H3G 2H7)
  • Pigeon Espresso Bar (1392 Boulevard de Maisonneuve O, Montréal, QC H3G 2E4)
  • Melk Café (1206 Stanley St, Montreal, Quebec H3B 2S7)
  • Leaves House Café (2051 Rue de la Montagne, Montréal, QC H3G 1Z8)
For more resources on sustainability on campus check out our resources page or our sustainability guide to campus.

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