If you feel that your weekly visit to one of Evanston's local coffee shops should be accompanied by a feeling of moral integrity (and face it - we're in college - we all need a boost of morality), then look below to see which independent coffee shop is doing the best job to promote environmentally and socially conscious behaviors.
In evaluating four of Evanston's best sustainable coffee shops, I looked at the sustainability efforts of each shop's coffee supplier, the usage of plastic and paper products within the store, the source of the foods served in each coffee shop and even the amount of energy-using appliances present or vegan milk options. Now when you start to feel the caffeine rush after drinking your three-shot caramel macchiato, you can also appreciate all of the great things you are inadvertently doing for the environment and the world.
Patisserie Coralie, a French bakery and café just south of campus, is putting forth the effort to take care of the Earth. Their coffee beans come from Julius Meinl, an Austrian coffee roaster that takes pride in their social responsibility. Julius Meinl is a Fairtrade certified company. While you are enjoying a cup of their strong, Viennese coffee, you can accompany it with a splash of organic soy milk or a house-made croissant.
Even better, if you drink one too many cups of coffee, you can even find sustainability in the shop's restroom. The toilet paper is 100% recycled fiber.
If you feel like taking a bike ride farther into Evanston, the Brothers K Coffeehouse is an excellent sustainable coffee shop just off of Main Street. The quaint shop features sprawling glass windows, allowing for natural light and reducing the amount of energy wasted through inefficient lightbulbs.
The coffee served at Brothers K is roasted by Metropolis, a Chicago-based company who pays their coffee farmers fair prices for their harvests and makes continuous efforts to respect the lands that grow the coffee beans (hint: Metropolis is also served at University Library's Cafe Bergson).
If you're in the mood for a pastry item too, the coffee shop serves Bennison's donuts and locally-made sweets. Say goodbye to the unnecessary pollution created by mass-produced foods and their shipping.
Kafein may not make their own baked goods, and their kitchen may seem to be full of energy-guzzling appliances, but behold - they are the only coffee shop I have found in Evanston that doesn't have any wooden coffee stirrers inside its doors.
If you need to stir sugar and cream into your coffee, you'll need to ask for a reusable, metal spoon. As an added bonus, Kafein's coffee supplier, Philosophy, is a Chicago-based company who buys directly from the beans' country of origin. Each cup of coffee "for here" within Kafein is served in a mug, not a plastic or paper throw-away cup.
Unicorn Café, a favorite among Northwestern students, serves the Wisconsinite coffee brand Colectivo, which roasts all of its coffee beans by hand and buys them directly from their country of origin. If you decide to enjoy a latte or cappuccino instead of a regular cup of coffee, however, you can choose to have it made with either of the shop's vegan milk options, almond or soy milk.
If you happen to be at the café at lunch, be sure to check out the shop's house-made lunch options and local baked goods. You can take pride in the fact that your tasty muffin wasn't made from an environmentally-destructive, pre-packaged mix that was shipped from hundreds of miles away.