David Arrell, the owner of the new Good Karma Café in Center City, has a philosophy.
“Coffee shops are like bars,” he said. “We go on different days for different reasons.”
Unlike a bar, however, this coffee shop has an attitude that’s all about great food, friendly people and, well, good karma.
Located in Fitler Square, the Good Karma Café is a contemporary Zen-inspired coffeehouse with a strong focus on environmentally and ecologically sound practices that seeks to promote community and responsibility. Since its opening in early March, Arrell has seen a diverse crowd of coffee lovers, local residents and students come through its doors.
“The Good Karma Café is designed to carry on the tradition of the hip, bohemian neighborhood coffee shop that not only serves great coffee and espresso drinks, but also serves as a community meeting place where people come to discuss politics, poetry, music and love,” Arrell writes on his Web site.
Arrell takes environmental awareness a step further at the Good Karma Café. Everything – from the paint on the walls to the organic food to the wood of the tables – is selected with the highest ethical and ecological standards in mind.
The coffee is also specially chosen by Arrell. All coffee used at the Good Karma Café is purchased from Equal Exchange, a company that buys fair trade-certified coffee beans.
“Coffee, on the global market, is No. 2 behind oil in money traded daily and currently trades at $1.31 per pound of raw green beans,” he said. “Fair trade coffee is important because it trades at a minimum of $2.31 per pound of raw green beans.
“This extra money goes directly to the producers of the coffee rather than to the market brokers, therefore, the actual farmers benefit much more directly from their hard work than if they were to try to trade on the open market,” he said. “In return for the higher price, they are encouraged to farm in a more eco-friendly manner as well.”
It costs Arrell more to implement these practices within his business, but it’s a price that he is more than willing to pay.
“Doing the right thing is more important than saving a penny,” he said. “Certain guests bypass other shops to support me and my interests.”
Even though Arrell strongly supports eco-friendly and ethical business initiatives, he doesn’t expect everyone to feel the same way.
“I’m not an activist,” he said. “I’m not forcing people to follow what I’m about. I’m not trying to change the world.”
Customers at the Good Karma Café have been supportive of Arrell’s eco-friendly efforts in a way that Arrell never imagined. He said he didn’t expect many guests to comment on his eco-friendly practices, but the positive feedback has been profound.
“With more organic food choices, I expected a little more resistance,” he said. “But people are excited.”
The Good Karma Café has only been open for two months, but, the shop already has a steady stream of regulars. Arrell attributes this to a good location.
“The growth rate has been much faster than I thought it would be,” he said.
The shop is a tribute to Arrell’s belief in the power of karma.
“Everything is cause and effect,” he said. “I don’t have control over everything, but the things I do have control over, I have an obligation to do the right thing.”
Sherri Hospedales can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the know…
Good Karma Café
31 S. 22nd St.
(at Pine Street.)