Oh, coffee! That first sip of hot coffee on a cold winter's day—pure bliss. The rich taste of espresso blanketed with milk always melts in your mouth, warming your insides and numbing the pain of midterms away. The best coffee on campus is just steps away, and I'm going to show you where to find it. 

Most college students think first and foremost about the taste and price of their coffee. If it doesn't leave a dent in your bank account and doesn't taste like mud water, you'll take it. But do you think about where your beans are coming from? Are they fair trade, organic, or bird-friendly? How far did they travel to get here? Is the company local? Did you use a disposable cup or your own mug? 

These are all things we need to be conscious about when consuming coffee, because as much as we depend on it in our daily lives, it can have a harmful impact on the planet. Just because we don't see those impacts doesn't mean they don't exist. 

Emory has eight cafés on campus, which I took the liberty of reviewing to help you to make more conscious decisions about your coffee. Born from my fair deal of knowledge about good coffee, here is my Environmentalist's Guide To The Best Coffee On Campus.

Kaldi's Coffee

With three locations on campus, it is fair to assume Kaldi's dominates the coffee scene at Emory. Other than being insanely aesthetic, Kaldi's has some delicious coffee and pastries that don't break the bank (a standard latte will cost you around $4.00). Their seasonal drinks are phenomenal, and they always have a blend of espresso-based and tea-based beverages to cater to everyone. My favorite item on the menu is the maple pumpkin latte in fall and the holy grail apple cinnamon bread. There is truly nothing like it, with its soft pillowy center and crunchy oat sugar crust on top.

Sophie Packman

Kaldi's coffee and tea is fair-trade on Emory's campus, and it seeks to take part in organic and bird-friendly approaches whenever possible. In addition, all Kaldi's cups and lids are compostable as of 2018, meaning you are not contributing to the plastic pollution problem! Despite this, try to bring your own cup or ask them for a mug whenever you can. 

Kaldi's is based in St. Louis, Missouri, where they roast their beans. In order to make it to your oat milk vanilla latte in the ESC, these beans have to travel further than those that may be locally roasted. This can contribute to your carbon footprint, so try to go to more localized coffee shops whenever possible. That being said, you can't go wrong with a nice hot latte in a mug! 

Starbucks Coffee

Next up, we have Starbucks at Barnes and Nobles. Although the logo and branding are heavily green, Starbucks is not green in practice. As a huge coffee conglomerate, it's easy to make vague promises about the ethics and sustainability of their coffee. Starbuck's mission statement claims that "95% of coffee is ethically sourced" without any actual definition of what that means. Therefore, we don't know where the beans come from if they are fair-trade, organic, or neither. Most beans are roasted at its main roaster in York, PA, meaning they have to travel a fair distance to reach Emory. 

Sophie Packman

Starbucks is also quite picky about reusable mugs due to covid, and they don't offer a dine-in mug option. All Starbucks' cups are made of single-use plastics, including hot coffee cups, which are non-recyclable due to the thin layer of plastic lining inside. 

Certain drinks such as their sugar cookie latte and iced brown sugar oat milk espresso are flavorful, but pricier than usual. While you can preorder, which can be a savior if you're in a rush, Starbucks is a poor choice for coffee if you care about the environment. 

Banjo Coffee

Woodruff Library is home to Banjo Coffee. It was founded in Atlanta, and put sustainability at the forefront of its mission. Banjo promises "100% organic, fair-trade beans," roasted at Cafe Campesino. Not only is Cafe Campesino a local roaster, it is also a certified B Corp. All their containers are compostable and they are repurposing used coffee grounds in body scrubs! 

Anisha Johnson

Banjo is best known for its cold brew coffee, which you can also buy canned in Cox Hall. A standard Banjo cold brew costs around $4.00, a reasonably priced option. Overall, Banjo a great to-go option to grab and take to your favorite study spot.

Highland Bakery 

If Banjo isn't your cup of tea, Highland Bakery has two locations nearby. HB in the B-school is a great study spot, and the perfect place to enjoy the beautiful weather with its plentiful outdoor seating. Alternatively, if you feel like curling up with a good book in the Atwood library, HB Coffee Lab might be the spot for you. Their chocolate croissant and apple danish are delicious and reasonably priced – a good choice if you need a pick me up after a hard chem lab. HB uses compostable cups and recyclable coffee lids; however, there is no dine-in option, and they are strict about a no-touch policy for reusables due to covid.

Anisha Johnson

HB, unfortunately, is not transparent about where their coffee comes from. I cannot vouch for them or say they are not sustainable because we simply do not know. Therefore, if you are trying to live more sustainably, it is best to avoid coffee shops where you don't know where your beans are coming from. 

Blue Donkey 

A more sustainable option is Cox Hall's Blue Donkey. It's an Atlanta-based, family-owned company that insists on living local as much as possible. All their coffee is organic and fair-trade, and some blends are even bird-friendly. Blue Donkey beans are locally roasted, a mere 45 minutes away from Emory's campus. 

Anisha Johnson

Blue Donkey is looking into 100% biodegradable materials for their future coffee bags and cups, but as it stands, their coffee cups are currently recyclable. Some baristas are willing to take reusable cups now even in the pandemic – all you have to do is ask! 

Overall, Blue Donkey offers a vibrant atmosphere to work in, and their pastries, especially the almond croissants, are delectable! You are sure to find a classic drink that you will keep coming back for – their most popular blend is the summer almond iced coffee, priced at $3.89. Price-wise, it's reasonable for organic, fair-trade coffee.

Ebrik Coffee Room

Moving on up to the beautiful Michael C. Carlos Museum lies my personal favorite: Ebrik Coffee Room. Ebrik is a quaint coffee shop located on the third floor of the museum, founded originally by an Emory alumni. The shop boasts a cozy atmosphere and quiet workspace with lots of natural light – the perfect vibe for your midterm study grind. Their coffee is all fair- trade, ground-fresh, and locally roasted, minimizing your carbon footprint. They are also members of the social solidarity supply chain, meaning they focus on sourcing coffee that empowers and develops local communities involved in coffee farming. 

Anisha Johnson

Although Ebrik is definitely pricer than average and doesn't accept Dooley dollars, splurging on this coffee is well worth it. A standard drink will cost around $5.00 – but since the beans are roasted and served within a short period, the coffee has a vibrant, deep flavor you cannot find anywhere else. My favorite is the fireplace cappuccino with caramel, honey, and nutmeg. You can ask for a mug if you're dining in or get a compostable cup to go! 

And the winner is...

Ebrik! It takes the cake as the best coffee on campus from all perspectives. It has a quaint atmosphere, killer coffee, friendly baristas, and most importantly is kind to our environment. Stop by from Monday-Friday from 8:30 AM-3:00 PM and from 10:00 AM-3:00 PM on Saturdays!

All in all, it is up to you to change your coffee habits for the good of our planet. Bring a reusable mug whenever possible, and switch to plant-based milk, which has a much lower carbon footprint. Or, better yet, brew the coffee in your dorm! That way, you know exactly what goes into it and where your coffee is coming from. A French Press costs around $20 and can last a lifetime if you take good care of it. 

Happy sipping!