Nossa Familia’s new location on 20th and Division charges 25 cents for to-go cups!

by Brion Hurley

Nossa Familia Coffee opened a new location this week on SE 20th and Division at Seven Corners, and those of you following our coffee cup reduction campaign are going to be super excited about this cafe!

They are already known for their sustainability efforts. They are a Certified B Corporation, and they were the first coffee roaster in Oregon to achieve this distinction. They are a certified Organic handling facility by Oregon Tilth. They switched to 100% renewable (wind) electricity through Portland General Electric, and they switched all of their retail and wholesale bags to a more sustainable line of bags from Pacific Bags Inc. called Biotré. They also use reclaimed furniture in all their stores.

But they have really stepped up their efforts with their new location.

They are trying to be a “zero waste” and carbon neutral cafe (see menu photos below). It’s printed right on the menu, under “Reducing Environmental Impact”

Our goal is to be a zero waste and carbon-neutral cafe. We hope you’ll join us in this pursuit to lower our footprint. Food & drinks ordered to-go are charged an additional $0.25 to cover the hidden costs of materials, waste and disposal, and to offset our environmental impact.


I spoke with Danielle and Camille about these efforts on Day 2 of their soft opening.

The price on the menu is also the “for here” cost. If you bring your own cup to dine in, you get a 25 cent discount. A lot of other coffee shops offer a cup discount.

However, if you take your coffee or food “to go,” then you get charged an extra 25 cents! This is to offset waste and lower their environmental footprint, and to cover the hidden cost of waste.

If you look closely at their menu, you can see this mentioned at the very top:

I think the reason they offer a charge and a discount is that it costs them money to wash the “for here” cups, and it costs them money to give you a disposable coffee cup, so they are simply passing the charge onto the customers. RA is so excited about this, as we feel this is the most effective way to achieve a significant reduction in disposable coffee cups! Many environmental problems could be solved if we follow the “polluter pays” principle.

The only other coffee shop we’ve heard about that has done a similar extra charge for to-go coffee cups was done 10 years ago in the UK (Fisher 2008_Disposable Cup Thesis).

They also learned from past customers that one reason why people get their cups “to go” but dine in with them is for two reasons:

  1. They might have to leave before they are finished, and want to save some time/effort
  2. The ceramic mugs lose heat quickly, while the paper cups seem to stay hotter longer. This surprised me, but I found out that the wide mouth on the mugs allow the heat to escape more quickly. They are experimenting with the taller ceramic mugs, to see if that retains the heat longer. The downside is that it’s harder to make latte art for the baristas in the taller mugs. A positive benefit of the taller mugs is that it’s easier to grip and hold for most people.

They have really thought a lot about the challenges that come with changing the norms for a coffee shop. For example, there was some discussion about plastic straws. They don’t offer any plastic straws in the shop. You can buy your own reusable straw, or you can use one of their stainless steel straws. They have heard complaints about people hurting themselves with the stainless steel straws, so all of them come with a bendable attachment that is easier and safer to use.

Reusable ceramic mugs, returnable mason jars, stainless steel straws with rubber tips, and paper bags for pastries


As for other environmental features in the shop to help achieve zero waste…

  1. Offer a reusable mason jar program with a $2 deposit (similar to Nectar Cafe’s program)
  2. No plastic containers for cream cheese or butter. If you order a bagel with cream cheese, they will charge you 25 cents extra, then serve it to you on a “for here” plate, and include a recyclable paper bag. The cream cheese will come in a reusable ceramic container with a real knife. You should put your cream cheese on your bagel before you leave, then put your bagel into the paper bag.
  3. No plastic silverware. Use their reusable silverware before you leave, or go without, or buy your own set of reusable bamboo silverware in the store.
  4. Water station with reusable cups.
  5. Bins for sorting trash from recycling and composting. The compost is taken from the bus bins and combined with the pre-consumer compost.

Now they have some of our campaign materials. They already posted the window cling reminder, and put out some bookmarks to share with customers. In addition, they put the BYOC magnets on their espresso machines.

I’m sure there are some other ways they are being more sustainable, but this should get you excited to go visit them and ask more questions. You can find their new location at SE 20th and Division

Tell them you read about them on our blog, and make sure you “BYOC”!