North Vancouver Café cuts down single-use cups

Owner Annette Kim says the extra costs of minimizing waste are worth it, for her own peace of mind and for the benefit of future generations. ☕

One of the newer coffee shops on the North Shore serves no mugs.

Nomad Coffee, at 1415 Bewicke Ave. , is the first coffee shop in North Vancouver to cut single-use mugs from its menu.

Instead of a disposable vessel, customers are encouraged to BYOC (bring your own cup), or purchase one of the on-sale reusable options, which range from $3 to $22. You can also rent a mason jar for $2, which will be refunded upon return.

The night before Nomad’s grand opening on May 13, owner Annette Kim couldn’t sleep. Will people challenge her policy, arguing, “Why don’t you have mugs?”

“Actually, we didn’t complain at all,” Kim said. Of the 200 people who visited on opening day, people were more curious than anything else. Cupless customers either went to grab a cup from their car, paid for one of the available options, or were lucky enough to get a travel mug handed out that day.

But one experiment stood out for Kim.

Two young girls from the nearby Westview Elementary School came with their mother. After asking why the store didn’t have mugs, Kim said their mother articulated the “zero waste” ideology.

“The next day, they brought their cups and gave them to me, [and asked,] She said, “Can I have an iced chocolate?”

Kim couldn’t believe that in just one day, these kids had already started. “I’m very proud.”

Today’s Challenge, Change Tomorrow

Kim’s coffee journey began in 2015, opening a location for Bean Around the World at Vancouver General Hospital, then a second Bean at 506 Chesterfield Ave. in Lower Lonsdale in 2019.

During her success at her first store, the hundreds of cups and other trash that goes to the landfill each day made her feel guilty, but she couldn’t initiate any alternative waste solutions with Fraser Health as the property owner.

But at Lonsdale, Kim put multiple practices in place, and turned them into nearly zero waste. Doing so is a huge financial commitment, as waste sorting takes an employee about four hours each day.

Also, since the mugs are printed on them, they need to go through a third party service in order to be properly recycled. In the end, added waste management costs them thousands annually.

It also includes additional training for its employees. “It’s a really cool move they love to do, because it’s such a good thing,” Kim said. “They feel good.”

Three years ago, people were willing to dismiss how to get rid of things. Today, “the client is well educated.”

One of Kim’s inspirations for opening Nomad was her 2-year-old grandson. “I made a decision to do something, one small thing to make some change in the world,” she said.

On Nomad’s website, he wrote the slogan: “Challenge today, change tomorrow.” Kim said she only lost five percent of potential clients due to the no-cup policy.

Nomad coffee

where: 1415 Bewicke Ave.

what: Coffee, hot and cold cafe drinks, smoothies. On-site baked goods, sandwiches. Puppy treats. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Hours: weekdays 7am-5pm, weekends 8am-5pm

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