Good Karma Café, Philadelphia, PA

Samantha Koch,
Posted on Friday 10th July 2009

At the Good Karma Café, being green doesn’t mean being obvious.

You wouldn’t know it walking through its doors, but almost every inch of the small, brightly decorated coffee shop near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia is fashioned from recycled substances.

Take the café’s quaint back porch, for instance. Its light brown floors are actually made from recycled milk cartons. The flooring inside the shop comes from limestone powder tiles, a more environmentally-friendly resource than granite or concrete, and rubber flooring composed of recycled tires. Even the disposable plastic cups filled with iced coffees and teas come from an unusual source, corn.

According to owner and founder David Arrell, building the Good Karma Café in a sustainable manner was a natural extension of the company’s overall mission. “We do everything with the environment in mind,” said Arrell.

Arrell opened the Good Karma Café in March of 2008 with a simple goal: serve customers a good cup of coffee while helping the environment. After taking tours of various eco-friendly coffee shops across the nation, Arrell realized that he wanted his café to have a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere than other green businesses he had encountered. The result is a coffee shop with an energetic but unassuming atmosphere that draws an impressive variety of clients.

All of the coffee brewed at the Good Karma Café is distributed by Equal Exchange, a company that benefits small-scale farmers across the globe. Every product that is sold in the shop — from biodegradable travel mugs to teas and sodas — is organic and fair-trade certified.

The Café also promotes sustainable behavior from its customers by offering a number of incentives. Anyone can come into the shop with a reusable mug and fill it to the brim for the cost of a small beverage (around two dollars); if you have a reusable mug from the Good Karma Café, that rate is only one dollar, no matter what the size. “It’s just one of those things that makes sense,” said Arrell. “We try to always support people to make the right decision.”

More on the Good Karma Café.

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