I recently met with the communications director, Mia at Think Coffee (November 20, 2017). I had reached out to earlier about a project I’m starting (Cup Switch). She was super receptive to the idea. We set up a meeting at the 8th Avenue store. Here’s a little excerpt of my experience
A few minutes after noon. I walk into a lively, large store (the cover picture is deceptive!) and approach the barista asking if Mia is in. The barista tells me she doesn’t think so. I tell her I have a meeting at 12:30 and had received a message Mia was there. A senior barista steps in, offers to go downstairs and check.
I move off to the side, wait a few minutes. I take a double look at someone standing in line. It’s a friend I had texted earlier. I call out his name as I walk over to meet him. We hug. He offers to get me something. I tell him I’m fine with my water, but touched by his gesture.
“She’s not here” I hear the senior barista tell me. I’m guessing Mia will come in at 12:30 when we originally had planned to meet.
My friend and I decide we’ll catch up in the meantime. I spot a free bar table near the back and we head there. He just got married. I started Cup Switch. We have a lot to catch up on.
Midway through conversation, a woman with short bleached hair, contrasted with dark roots, and those trendy clear glasses walks up and asks me if I’m there for the meeting. We introduce ourselves and I give her a few minutes to go and get ready.
Ten to fifteen minutes later, Mia returns. Though not physically tall, she has a certain presence that makes you forget that fact. “I’m ready when you are” she announces, sitting down at the bar table behind me. My friend says he’ll do some work and that we can talk later, so I swing around and begin conversation with Mia.
Oddly, I feel more like I’m meeting with a friend, catching up on things. We start off talking about her recent trip with her sister to Connecticut, talking about the travel time. I eventually get around to telling her my background and interest in helping to support NYC meet its 2030 zero waste goal.
I notice Mia has a small little turquoise for-here cup with black coffee. “Good job!” I point to her drink. She smiles. “We’re going to get a long” I think.
Talking more with Mia reinforces this thought. She’s aware of all the waste with cups – even though they use compostable cups, people still throw them out. In the store, most people are sitting with disposable cups I notice, not unlike my observation from the other time I visited the Broadway store. I mention the cost of this, the waste generated and the amount of inventory this takes – she knows.
We start talking about ways Think could improve their operations. Though my intention for this meeting was to see if Think wanted to be part of this other pilot project I’m working on, participating in a loyalty program for an app being used in a corporation, I start to realize there is an opportunity to do almost what I’ve been doing with blogging, but work with them over a sustained period of time – enough to make a change. This partnership (for lack of a better word) can be documented, content can be shared on social media to show the transformation of Think Coffee and used as a model for other stores wanting to become zero waste.
We are both excited by the prospect of this idea. We talk about the various approaches, like more signage, such as advertising the 25 cent discount for bringing your own cup, and engaging customers on social media by producing content to bring awareness about issues of waste.
Mia tells me she’s from the West Coast. I grew up out there too. We have a moment. We get the eco-mentality. She then comments on her insight about living on the East Coast, at least in NYC. She says it’s almost like people are proud to be wasteful – continual disposal of things gives a sense of affluence, luxury, like you can afford to waste.
An hour passes. We emerge from our engaging discussion on the potential for change and how we can achieve that. I’m on a high from the excitement. I can tell Mia feels inspired as well.
We plan to meet again after the holidays, when she’s had the opportunity to present the ideas to her boss. I’m looking forward to this partnership and being able to share the progress that is made.
*I went to Greenpoint later that week on the Sunday. I was leaving one of the piers, speaking on the phone with a friend who is helping to document the Cup Switch process. We were talking about possible video content we might make with Think Coffee. Right after I hung up, I passed by a holiday market and decided to go in. As I moved towards the back, I saw a woman with dark-haired roots contrasted with bleach blond tips. I recognized the face. It was Mia! She does a pottery gig on the side – Paperclip Pottery – and was selling her work (which are great Christmas gifts btw ;). Life is funny, isn’t it.