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Conscious Cups of Coffee: Ottawa

We don't need inspirational quotes, we just need coffee. Preferably, the ethically responsible and environmentally sustainable kind.

Just as it is with any kind of conscious consumerism, buying coffee beans is no different. A low cost to the consumer comes at a high cost to farmers and the planet. When our beans are sourced in ethical and environmentally sustainable manners, its a win for everyone, not just the consumer.

Whether it be transparently adopting a clear set of guidelines and principles, or a Fairtrade, Organic, Bird Friendly or Rainforest Alliance certification, there are many ways for coffee shops to let us know that they're conscious, and inversely, for us coffee drinkers to decide the kind of impact we want to have.

Starting local, here are a few of the coffee shops that’ll get us our cup of Joe with their employees, harvesters, customers, and planet, in mind.


A personal favourite, located in Almonte, and the Westboro Village, Equator Coffee is a go-to for anyone looking for a delicious cup of coffee that is also Fairtrade and Certified Organic.

The three pillars of Equator Coffee are Fresh Roasting, Fairtrade Purchasing and Organic Certification. And, since it is roasted in Almonte, Ontario, not only is it (super) fresh, it is purchased with organic purity and Fairtrade farmers in mind. Win, win, win.


Bridgehead Coffee is now a staple across Ottawa, and rightfully so! They've been leading the responsible coffee movement in the capital for a while by working with small-scale farmer to carry a large array of Fairtrade, Organic and shade-grown coffees. Now they are tackling sustainability close to home and taking on waste-reduction and prevention in all of their daily operations.

Fun fact: You can ask for used coffee grounds at any of their 19 coffeehouses, and they'll give them to you! Used coffee grounds are awesome for composting, or can be mixed with a little bit of coconut oil and used as an body exfoliant!


Books and caffeine - what else can we ask for? The Black Squirrel Books and Espresso Bar is one of the coolest places in Ottawa, for coffee lovers and readers alike.

Not only are we served locally roasted, Fairtrade and Organic coffee as well as baked goods from a few of our top local bakeries, we can read, purchase, or trade in lightly used books of, pretty much, any kind.


Mouthwatering doughnuts make SuzyQ an Ottawa food-scene must-have, and their FairTrade Coffee really is just a cherry on top of this Hintonburg, and woman-owned business.

Everything about SuzyQ might be insta-friendly, but coolest thing about this business, and business-owner however, is her story.

Fun fact: A little bird told me that gluten free, as well as dairy free doughnut options could very well be in the works!


For Happy Goat Coffee, this is an example of where judgement, and our own research comes into play! This is because, despite Happy Goat Coffee supporting the environment and sustainable development, it does not have any Fairtrade, Organic, Rainforest Alliance or Bird Friendly certifications to 'prove' it.

For many of us, certifications are an easy, and quick way to see whether a business abides by certain ethical or environmental standards and practices, however, they are not the golden rule, especially when we're talking smaller scale, and local businesses.

For Happy Goat, not having these certifications doesn't make them any less ethically and environmentally responsible. Their dedication to directly interacting and trading with their farmers, reducing their environmental impact through waste reduction, and building a sense of community within their shops and throughout the community, (to name a few), speak as loud as would certifications.

Thankfully, not only do they serve a mean cup of coffee at their Hintonburg and Sandy Hill shops, you can find Happy Goat coffee for sale in stores, and being brewed in cafes around Ottawa.


To find other responsible, Fairtrade or Organic coffee shops, restaurants, or bakeries, check out EthicalTree!

EthicalTree is an incredibly useful, and accurate, ethical business directory for Ottawa, Gatineau and Kingston. It is an entirely free service that allows for consumers to search for businesses based on their ethical preferences, whether it be Fair Trade, Organic, veg-friendly or Woman-owned, and browse through the continuously growing directory of local, and ethical businesses.




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