One of our sustainability interns took a trip to Metropolis Coffee Company in preparation for Metropolis coffee at Cafe Bergson on campus. Here is what she had to say!
So there I was, sitting in a conference room adjacent to a coffee-roastery, when it hit me: Oh, THIS is what good coffee is. You see, I have never been much of a coffee snob. Most of the time, if I need coffee, I’ll drink whatever brew is put in front of me…after I douse it with cream and sugar. But as I sat in Metropolis Coffee’s headquarters in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, I knew I was sipping on something far better than your average cup of joe. I was about halfway done with my cup and 15 minutes into a conversation when Tony Dreyfuss, who owns Metropolis along with his father, Jeff, said something that has stuck with me since my time at the roastery: “Great Coffee is for everyone.”
As Northwestern Dining’s sustainability intern, I had been asked to do some research on Metropolis Coffee as we were preparing to start serving their coffee in Café Bergson. As a Chicago-land native, I was excited to learn more about this local roastery and coffee house and became even more intrigued when my visits to Yelp and Urban Spoon produced nothing but favorable reviews. As a back-to-back Good Food Awards winner in 2014 and 2015, it was clear that Metropolis is committed to consistently providing quality coffee. However, while exploring Metropolis’ website, I noticed Metropolis mentioned a commitment to sustainability and responsibly sourcing and producing their coffee. Curious to learn more, I emailed Tony to see if he could elaborate more on what sustainability means to the company and what kinds of sustainable practices they implement.
I expected an email reply with a blurb about what Metropolis does; instead, I received an invitation to meet Tony at Metropolis’ roastery and discuss my questions while touring the facility. That’s how I found myself sipping on one of the best cups of coffee I’d had. Tony began the meeting with a discussion on Metropolis’ history and philosophy. It was clear right off the bat that Metropolis really set itself apart from its peers with its “great coffee is for everyone” mantra. Metropolis willingly pays the high price for quality coffees from small farms around the world, yet doesn’t charge a premium on coffee served to its customers so that everyone can get ahold of a quality brew. This is even more impressive when you take into account everything Metropolis does to ensure every cup of coffee is great. At the roastery, beans are roasted in small batches to ensure a consistent roast and therefore consistent cups of coffee, and freshness is ensured as coffee is usually shipped to Metropolis’ clients and cafes within 24 hours. Although most of Metropolis’ clients are in the Midwest, Metropolis’ coffees can be found in cafes on the west coast, in Canada, and even in Asia.
So, people near and far can experience Metropolis’ great coffee, but I also learned that the “everyone” in Metropolis’ mantra included the coffee farmers and workers from whom Metropolis sources their coffee. On their mission to serve great coffee, Tony and Jeff often visit coffee farms in places like Ecuador, Kenya, Ethiopia and Brazil. While they speak with the farm owners about their methods—Metropolis sources from small farms that utilize organic methods or prevent rainforest destruction by shade-growing their coffee trees—Jeff, a linguist, may also speak with farm workers to ensure that they are being treated fairly and are not put in dangerous work conditions. By being willing to purchase coffee at higher prices, Metropolis ensures that the farms they source from can afford sustainable farming techniques and the fair treatment of their workers.
In my short trip to Metropolis Coffee Company’s roastery, I learned great coffee really can be for everyone. Tony’s passion for quality coffee came out in the way he spoke about every aspect of Metropolis. From the coffee he served us at the roastery to the responsible sourcing from farms across the globe, it was clear Metropolis wanted to leave everything it touched better than it was before, making its great coffee something that could benefit everyone.