Serving Sustainably at Buunni Coffee


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Buunni Coffee/Café Buunni
213 Pinehurst Avenue (at 187th Street)
New York, New York
Hours: 6:30 am–7 pm, Monday to Friday; 7 am–7 pm, Saturday and Sunday

Customers find it easy to be environmentally conscious at Café Buunni, an independent coffee shop in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. To-go cups of the shop’s small-batch, custom-roasted Ethiopian coffees are served in fully compostable hot cups from Good Start Packaging.

In fact, husband-and-wife co-owners Elias Gurmu and Sarina Prabasi select compostable options for all their café’s foodservice needs—from cups and cup carriers, to utensils, bakery bags, and compostable shopping bags.

“We’ve been using sustainable products from the beginning, since opening five-and-a-half years ago,” says Gurmu, who moved to New York from Ethiopia in 2011. “It might be a little more costly, but we know everyone is benefitting from it. People really like it. Our customers really appreciate what we do.”

Gurmu has sourced his sustainable products from Good Start Packaging since opening, and he plans to continue using Good Start as his primary supplier when he and Prabasi expand their operations to two new locations in 2018. “I will be working with them as long as I can—forever,” he says.

Gurmu says he sees no downside in making the switch from traditional options to more sustainable ones. And, he feels doing so fits into the café’s overall commitment, as outlined on their website, to “coffee-growing and buying practices that are good for people—growers and consumers—as well as for the planet.”

Buunni Café Owner Elias Gurmu

Recently, Gurmu worked with Good Start to put his Buunni Coffee logo on their compostable hot cups—a process he says was easy and painless. “They print them for us and will even store them for us, and whenever we need them, they ship them,” he says.

By switching to compostable products, especially in a place like New York City, which has aggressively expanded its municipal composting services in recent years, Buunni Coffee is helping create a culture of sustainability—one coffee at a time.

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Robin Roenker

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