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Nomad is North Van's first coffee shop to cut single-use cups

The added costs of waste reduction are worth it, says owner Annette Kim, for her own peace of mind and for the benefit of future generations. ☕

One of the North Shore’s newest coffee shops gives no cups.

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

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

On the night before Nomad’s grand opening on May 13, owner Annette Kim couldn’t sleep. Would people be challenging her policy, quibbling, “Why don’t you have cups?”

“Actually, we had no complaining at all,” Kim said. Of the 200 people who visited on opening day, people were more curious than anything. Cup-less customers either went to grab a mug from their car, paid for one of the available options or were lucky enough to be gifted a travel mug given out that day.

But one experience stood out to Kim.

A couple young girls from nearby Westview Elementary came by with their mother. After asking about why the shop didn’t have cups, Kim said their mom explained the zero-waste ideology.

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

Kim couldn’t believe that in just one day, those kids were already taking action. “I’m so proud."

'Challenge today, change tomorrow'

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

While having success at her first shop, the hundreds of cups and other trash going to the landfill each day made her feel guilty, but she couldn’t start any alternative waste solutions with Vancouver Coastal Health as her landlord.

But at the Lonsdale shop, Kim has put multiple practices in place, transitioning it to practically zero waste. Doing so is a large financial commitment, as sorting the waste takes a staff member around four hours each day.

Also, because cups are printed on, they need to go through a third-party service for them to be properly recycled. Ultimately, the added waste management costs her thousands per year.

It also involves additional training for her staff. “But it's a really great step they love to do, because it's a good thing,” Kim said. “They feel great.”

Three years ago, people were willy-nilly with how they threw things away. Today, “The customer is well-educated.”

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

On Nomad’s website, a slogan reads: "Challenge today, change tomorrow." Kim said she’s only lost five per cent of potential customers from her no-cup policy.

Nomad Coffee

Where: 1415 Bewicke Ave.

What: Coffee, hot and cold café drinks, smoothies. Goods baked on-site, sandwiches. Puppy treats. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Hours: Weekdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Bean Around the World location at Vancouver General Hospital was under Fraser Health Authority. It's actually under Vancouver Coastal Health.

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