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by Maxim Vershinin

Retailer Profile: Walk Your “Green” Talk

Categories: 2011, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Dimitri Thompson is a man on the mis­sion. He is the first try­ing to break a pop­u­lar stigma among cof­fee shop own­ers that going all-in for 100% “green” is expen­sive and not prof­itable. His Noble Café is gen­er­at­ing lots of buzz, and we are glad to have him here for this interview.

V. Hi Dimitri! We can’t wait for the café to open up, when is the launch date?
T. We are still wait­ing on a cou­ple of per­mits and inspec­tions, but I think we will be open in the next two to four weeks.

V. I’ve heard that the con­do­minium builders are really excited to have you in their build­ing, how did you approach them?
T. Yup, it is a two year old build­ing, but the bot­tom floor has been empty all this time. Nobody wanted to go in there, because although being a great place, it is a huge invest­ment. I approached them with my con­cept, and they loved it. I told them that it would be the first build­ing depart­ment that will have a room ser­vice deliv­ery done by tex­ting. This is how it works: you fill up your mem­ber­ship account with $150 to $200 dol­lars, and your cell phone and apart­ment num­bers get linked to it. So, for exam­ple, if you text “two cof­fees Maxim 207”, you get a text back with your order con­fir­ma­tion, and who­ever brings you the order will give you a receipt that says how much money is left in your account. Like I said, the con­do­minium devel­op­ers loved it, and even gave me six months free rent.

V. What are you try­ing to prove with your busi­ness?
T. You know, I guess I am just sick of peo­ple say­ing that we are a green café or a green restau­rant, and all they do is put in a recy­clable counter and a few garbage bins. There is no real com­mit­ment with money or any­thing else. I know that the cof­fee shop indus­try is not made up of culi­nary pro­fes­sion­als – how many of them are food and bev­er­age pro­fes­sion­als or have a degree in resort man­age­ment? The major­ity start a busi­ness because it is not hard to do, which means that they usu­ally get bad leases and bad con­tracts, and as a result they are pass­ing their ridicu­lous over­heads on to cus­tomers. I ran some of the best hotels and restau­rants around the world after get­ting my degree, and I am here to prove the point that doing things the “green way” is bet­ter and afford­able both for the busi­ness owner and his customers.

V. Could you tell our read­ers a bit about the extent of your “green” con­cept?
T. The level of my com­mit­ment has not yet been seen in the cof­fee shop indus­try. Whatever my elec­tric­ity bill is every month, I will go to the Parks Department of Oakland and give them the same amount to keep our air clean. I will have a com­postable machine on site, and my cups will cost me an aston­ish­ing 15 cents because they are 100% recy­clable within 90 days. I will be using the most expen­sive organic milk, and 90% of our main ingre­di­ents will come from within a 200 miles radius. Each and every one of my inte­rior sup­pli­ers gives me a cer­tifi­cate that their prod­ucts are 100% sus­tain­able. For exam­ple, my high-end reclaimable wood tables cost $700 each, although I could have paid $150 for a reg­u­lar cof­fee table. The same with the lights for the café; I could have bought all for $5,000, but I have spent about $17,000 because of their electricity-saving char­ac­ter­is­tics. Still I am not here to be a non-profit: this is busi­ness, and I am plan­ning on tripling my ini­tial invest­ment in 6 years.

V. What is your rela­tion­ship with cof­fee, and how is it going to be reflected in the Noble café?
T. I am an avid cof­fee drinker, and cof­fee for me is four things: machine, grind, tamp­ing, and beans. Take tamp­ing for exam­ple, nobody in the U.S. is seri­ous about it. If you are 250 pounds, and I’m 150, our tamp­ing pres­sures are going to be dif­fer­ent, and so are our cof­fee drinks. In Noble Café, we will use Macap (www.macap.it/) lever oper­ated espresso tam­pers to keep our drinks con­sis­tent. As far as our cof­fee sup­ply, it will come from the Blue Bottle Coffee Company that only roasts organic, pesticide-free, shade-grown beans.

V. What espresso machine will you be using?
T. I will be using a Plus 4 You man­u­fac­tured by Astoria. So far, I am the only owner in the U.S. of the newest model in a gor­geous red color, which you can dif­fer­en­ti­ate from the older ones, which have the car­bon fiber fin­ish. Plus 4 You groups have sep­a­rate boil­ers, and you can switch them on/off and set them to dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­tures. It is the only machine in the world that is cer­ti­fied to save elec­tric­ity by 47%. Also Astoria has the biggest repair net­work in the U.S., so if some­thing breaks, some­body can come in the same day – really quick ser­vice is impor­tant in our busi­ness as you know.

CofeeTalk wishes all the luck to Dimitri Thompson and his “truly green” Noble Café. Don’t just talk, walk your “Green” talk.

Noble Café

Dimitri Thompson
100 Grand Avenue, Suite 111,
Oakland, CA, 94612
www.noblecafeoakland.com
info@noblecafeoakland.com

Going Green: Tips and Tricks That Can Make a Difference

Categories: 2011, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Over the past few years, research and facts regard­ing the effects of global warm­ing have become a con­cern; var­i­ous stud­ies have emerged that sup­port the neg­a­tive effect of green­house gases on the envi­ron­ment. Individuals, as well as cor­po­ra­tions, have cho­sen to sup­port, pro­mote, and fight for the reduc­tion of man’s impact on the envi­ron­ment. Eventually, the nat­ural resources we depend on will become scarce; and cli­mate change could affect the very com­mod­ity we base our busi­ness on: Coffee.

In an indus­try as large as cof­fee, there is a lot of waste. For this rea­son, it is impor­tant to rec­og­nize the role that busi­nesses play in lead­ing the way for social change. A busi­ness adopt­ing the green ini­tia­tive will affect it’s cus­tomers actions on a daily basis, because they will be “going green” along­side. As a cof­fee shop owner, you have the abil­ity to reduce the car­bon foot­print of hun­dreds of indi­vid­u­als (at least in one aspect of their daily lives); which in con­se­quence will save trees, dimin­ish the amount of harm­ful gases emis­sions, decrease waste, and reduce the growth of land­fills. Even if you are skep­ti­cal about the “Greenhouse effect” and it’s impact on cli­mate change, invest­ing in mak­ing your prac­tices more sus­tain­able can sub­stan­tially cut down oper­at­ing costs for any busi­ness. Simple actions like turn­ing off lights or appli­ances when they are not being used can make a dif­fer­ence. As a busi­ness, you have the power to gen­er­ate change; but it all com­mences with some­one that is will­ing to take ini­tia­tive. So here are tips & tricks that can make your café more sus­tain­able and reduce your car­bon footprint:

Tip # 1 – Encourage cus­tomers to bring their own mugs to your café every morn­ing.
Encouraging cus­tomers to bring their own mugs to the café every morn­ing is one thing. Getting them to actu­ally adopt the habit is another. When your cus­tomer finds the per­fect design to fit her per­son­al­ity, she’ll bring it in every day. We call it: “The Art of Hydration™.”The way that our prod­ucts improve sus­tain­abil­ity above alter­na­tives is very sim­ple; peo­ple find a piece of their per­son­al­ity in the design they choose for them­selves. That alone makes it easy to remem­ber to take it with them in the morn­ing.
Submitted by Erez Toker, Owner of OneVessel by Vessel Drinkware, 
www.vesseldrinkware.com

Tip # 2 – Use and pro­mote reusable fil­ters for Keurig brew­ers.
By offer­ing alter­na­tive devices, like the Ekobrew, to heav­ily used and eco­log­i­cally dam­ag­ing prod­ucts, the cof­fee retailer can gain new cus­tomers and have access to oth­er­wise untapped rev­enue streams. The Ekobrew is a reusable fil­ter that works in almost all of the Keurig brew­ers. Not only can the cus­tomer now use their own favorite cof­fee in their Keurig machine, they can save sig­nif­i­cant money over the cost of K-Cups. Over 5 bil­lion K-Cups will be sold, used and thrown away in the next cal­en­dar year. The Ekobrew can be used hun­dreds of times and every time it is used, one less non-biodegradable, plastic-and-foil K-Cup goes in our land­fills.
Submitted by Ron DeMiglio, President, Eko Brands, LLC. www.ekobrew.com

Tip # 3 – Market your brand with single-serve pods.
Soft paper pods are the green solu­tion to sin­gle cup brew­ing, and are more envi­ron­men­tally friendly than throw­ing a plas­tic K-cup into the land­fills every time you brew a cup of cof­fee. Spent pods from brew­ing cups of cof­fee are com­postable. Simply break the soft paper pods apart and spread them around your gar­dens and flowerbeds.
Submitted by Tom Martin, Executive Vice President /COO of Pod Pack International, LTD. www.podpack.com

Tip # 4 – Start using eco-friendly pack­ag­ing for your roasted cof­fee.
With many Organic, Fair Trade cof­fee brands look­ing for the right solu­tions, ours is the only one rec­om­mended by the Environmental Biology Department of the University of Milan, Italy. It is Omnidegradable, in that it will com­post in a back­yard, and Biodegrade in any land­fill, river, lake or ocean. 5 years of test­ing at Case Western University showed it will not harm plants, insects or soil. It leaves behind, Water, CO2, and a small amount of Organic Biomass; all ben­e­fi­cial to plant growth. It is the only Bio Film that will not break down on the store shelves or cus­tomers homes.

Submitted by Robert Pocius, President of TekPak Solutions,
www.tekpaksolutions.com

Also…

At PBi, we under­stand the chal­lenge with pack­ag­ing has been offer­ing a true sus­tain­able option that offers a bar­rier pro­tec­tion. Our Biotre film and stock Biotre side gus­set bags will do just that. Made from 60% wood pulp that will biode­grade in about 90 days and the other 40%, by weight, is made up of a treated plas­tic that will biode­grade within 4–5 years, sig­nif­i­cantly less than stan­dard plas­tics and bar­rier bags. Additionally, tins and com­postable paper tin-tie bags make great reusable options for retail stores and often many retailers/roasters will offer a dis­count to cus­tomers for reusing the packaging.

Submitted by Kelle Vandenberg, Director of Marketing, PBi. www.pacificbag.com

Tip # 5 – Offer a com­postable cof­fee cup to serve your next cup of cof­fee.
Compostable cof­fee cups per­form the same way a con­ven­tional cof­fee cup does but with out any of the draw­backs. Compostable cof­fee cups elim­i­nate the use of any petro­leum based mate­ri­als that are not sus­tain­able, and in some instances can take up to 100 years to com­pletely break down. Conventional cof­fee cups are non– recy­clable, mean­ing they end up in our land­fills, parks, and oceans. With Americans con­sum­ing over 20 bil­lion cof­fee cups, can you imag­ine the impact that could make if cafés would switch to com­postable cups that will fully break down in less than a year? Leave the old in the past, com­posta­bles are the future.
Submitted by Alonso Ortega, Sales Manager at Pacific Green Products, 
www.PacificGreenProducts.com

Also…

When we did our study for Carbon Trust cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, we found that despite what would seem to be a com­mon sense answer to avoid­ing sin­gle use table­ware, like using a ceramic mug and rewash­ing it, the car­bon foot­print of the mug was much higher in terms of car­bon emis­sions. Once you cal­cu­late in how much energy is being con­sumed to first make the ceramic or steel mug at the fac­tory, which is a very large amount; then the repeated wash­ing with the req­ui­site energy for water pump­ing, heat­ing the water, clean­ing the water; and the man­u­fac­tur­ing of the soaps and the trans­port of them; the car­bon emis­sions for a 100% pct biobased or bioresin com­postable hot cup was much, much lower. It even sur­prised us.
Submitted by Buzz Chandler, President of Asean Corporation (Stalkmarket, Planet+ and Jaya brands), www.stalkmarketproducts.com

Tip # 6– Don’t set­tle with only the cup – offer a com­postable lid to go with it!
Ask your­self, does it make sense to serve your cus­tomer a com­postable hot bev­er­age cup topped with a poly­styrene lid? Avoid the petro­leum alto­gether! Biodegradable Food Service offers an attrac­tive kraft cup lined with a bio-based inner coat­ing, capped with an equally attrac­tive bam­boo fiber lid, all of which com­prises a 100% com­postable drink pack­age. We call it the Earth Cup.
Submitted by Kevin Duffy, CEO of Biodegradable Food Service, LLC, www.Earth-To-Go.com

Tip # 7 – Reduce power con­sump­tion and save money with a Green Line espresso machine.
Let’s face it, we all know you’re sup­posed to leave your espresso machine turned on, but what about your power bill? The first born of our Green Line, Plus 4 You, dra­mat­i­cally reduces power con­sump­tion with its standby and night­time shut­down modes. The self-learning soft­ware can opti­mize the energy sav­ings by pow­er­ing down part of the machine dur­ing slow peri­ods as well. Compared to a tra­di­tional espresso machine, the Plus 4 You grants energy sav­ings from 30% to 47.6%.
Submitted by Courtney Baber, Sales & Marketing, Astoria/General Espresso Equipment, www.usa.astoria.com

Tip # 8 – Create your menus, gift cards, brochures, sig­nage, and busi­ness cards out of recy­cled mate­r­ial.
As a highly vis­i­ble and tac­tile prod­uct, Kona Paper offers many easy and sim­ple ways for cafés to cre­ate more mean­ing­ful mes­sages about the envi­ron­ment that really res­onate with cus­tomers. Since the paper is made out of recy­cled cof­fee bean bag fiber, the mere men­tion of Kona Paper’s “story” as a tagline on a menu, table tent, gift card/gift card­holder or bag vis­i­bly demon­strates your café’s com­mit­ment to going green. More impor­tantly, using Kona Paper pos­i­tively repur­poses a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the cof­fee industry’s waste stream in a fresh, new way.
Submitted by Greg Johnson,Sales & Marketing Vice President of Kona Paper, 
www.konapaper.com

Tip # 9 – Acquire the ade­quate ice­maker to reduce util­ity con­sump­tion.
Use Chewblet® ice­mak­ers to reduce util­ity con­sump­tion. In addi­tion to pro­vid­ing consumer-preferred ice, Chewblet ice­mak­ers will con­sume up to 25% less elec­tric­ity and up to 40% less water com­pared to tra­di­tional cube-type ice­mak­ers, depend­ing on the size of the machine. Upgrading, old inef­fi­cient ice­mak­ers to cur­rent stan­dards is usu­ally a good choice from a util­ity con­sump­tion per­spec­tive.
Submitted by Mike Rice, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Follett Corporation, 
www.follettice.com

Tip # 10 – Seek to make part­ner­ships with pro­duc­ers and pur­chase green cof­fee from farms that sup­port sus­tain­able prac­tices.
A green cup of cof­fee starts with the grower. Supporting farms that pro­mote green agri­cul­tural prac­tices, and pay­ing farm­ers a bet­ter price for their cof­fee will not only have a ben­e­fi­cial effect on the envi­ron­ment, but on com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies as well. The Doi Chaang Coffee Company has a unique part­ner­ship between the Akha hill­side tribe of Doi Chang Village, located in the Chiang Rai Province of Northern Thailand, and a small Canadian group of cof­fee enthu­si­asts. The Thai farm­ing fam­ily co-operative cul­ti­vate and process 100% Arabica, organic, single-origin cof­fee beans while the Canadian experts roast, mar­ket and dis­trib­ute the cof­fee.
The cof­fee is cul­ti­vated in small fam­ily gar­dens with every­one com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture and hav­ing min­i­mal impact on the nat­ural habi­tat. Doi Chaang Coffee is labeled “Going Beyond Fair Trade” because the farm­ers are paid in excess of the price rec­om­mended by the Fair Trade Organization for their green beans. In addi­tion, the Thai farm­ers have a 50% reg­is­tered own­er­ship in the Canadian com­pany, Doi Chaang Coffee Company, which is funded 100% by the Canadian Group.
Submitted by John M. Darch, President and CEO of Doi Chaang Coffee Company, www.doichaangcoffee.com

Taking the nec­es­sary steps to “go green” will have pos­i­tive effects not only on the envi­ron­ment, but on your prof­its as well. Inform your cus­tomers about your efforts on going green; you might be sur­prised by the pos­i­tive response you get from the pub­lic. While this should not be your pri­mary moti­va­tion on sup­port­ing the mat­ter, it can be a ben­e­fi­cial side effect. People are always look­ing to sup­port a cause, and going green is one that is widely rec­og­nized. By offer­ing eco-friendly prod­ucts and show­ing con­sumers your efforts, you will strengthen your cus­tomer loy­alty and enlarge your clien­tele. Furthermore, engage your employ­ees in you efforts to go green. Ask them for ways you can reduce waste, use resources more effi­ciently, and save money. Every com­pany should con­stantly strive to improve not only their busi­ness prac­tices but their com­mu­nity and envi­ron­ment as well. Make a dif­fer­ence, one green cup at a time.