If you live in Victoria or Vancouver, you can pretty much throw a stone in any direction and hit a café. Between large chains and cozy, neighbourhood gems, we are lucky to have so much choice. But why not give local businesses a boost while doing the same for your energy level?
Here are five uniquely West Coast cafés where you can satisfy an eggnog latte craving while strengthening the local economy.
Each one also supports socially-progressive programs, or uses a portion of sales for environmental sustainability initiatives:
- East Van Roasters (Vancouver)
The Vancouver Sun called this place the “little coffee bar with a big heart.” This café and sister chocolate shop/bakery hires women in the Downtown East Side that face barriers to employment through a social enterprise program created by the PHS Community Services Society. So far 20 women have successfully completed a training and employment program that helps them achieve high levels of customer service and culinary excellence. What you get is great, organic ‘bean to bar’ chocolate goods, pastries or coffees (roasted and prepared on site), while employees gain experience on their resume and increased self-confidence. Isn’t that worth the price of a latte?
- Habit Coffee (Victoria)
This is the café for lovers of the environment and humanity. Both locations in Victoria work with local green business consultants to maintain a carbon neutral existence. Habit purchases carbon offsets that also partially fund a wind farm in New Zealand that provides clean energy for homes previously powered by coal-burning plants. Habit has also given cooking stoves to families in Uganda that reduce the amount of biomass fuel required to cook by 50%.
- JJ Bean (Vancouver)
Since opening its first location in 1996, this business has grown to over 20 locations in B.C. and Ontario (each with their own architectural appeal). The company was founded in Vancouver by the Neate family and roasts beans daily. Design and architecture aficionados should check out the Marine Building and Bidwell Street (in Vancouver) locations, while everyone else should go for the great coffee and charitable initiatives in growing communities via JJ Bean’s Over + Above program.
- Sunflower Bakery Café (Squamish)
If you live in Squamish, chances are you’ve visited this local favorite (or seen their sunflower yellow delivery truck) for one of their amazing cups of coffee, pies or artisan breads. The café also serves nourishing breakfast, lunch and dinners that are made from scratch without the use of preservatives or trans fats. It doesn’t get more local than this—the Sunflower Bakery Café has been operating in the community for 21 years.
- Ethical Bean Coffee (Vancouver)
Fairtrade, organic, environmentally-aware and community-minded. These core values are the foundation of Ethical Bean Coffee’s business. Whether you decide to visit their Vancouver café or purchase a bag of their high quality roasted beans from local grocers, you can do so knowing a portion of sales support various programs, like the Child-Aid’s FUNDIT program to cover registration fees, supplies, uniform and textbook costs for kids in Guatemala to get an education. Sales also support environmentally-friendly housing in Guatemala for widowed and single mothers, and their children.