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Coffee with a Cause

Blue State Coffeeby Nancy King

I admit that the reason I walked into Blue State Coffee on Thayer Street was not remotely political. Sure, I’d read about how the company donates a portion of its sales to Democratic causes–but my motivation was purely personal, selfish even. I love cafes and am always on the lookout for new ones. So after picking up my daughter from school, we ventured over to check it out.

Blue State Coffee is very cool. The atmosphere is hip, modern, and artsy. And progressive, of course, in keeping with their mission to create “a community that cares about what’s happening in this country.” Here’s how it works: Blue State chooses five progressive causes (one local; four national) every three months, and customers vote on how much each cause receives. When we visited, the causes were: Providence Summerbridge, Stop Global Warming, People for the American Way, National Even Start Association, and Democratic candidates and causes via ActBlue. How much do these and other causes get? Blue State pledges to donate 10 percent of their sales, which amounts to a staggering 50 percent of their profits. MBA-types may take issue with their business model, but it makes you want to stand up and cheer.

Putting aside the politics (again), I was curious to learn the story behind the concept. Apparently, Blue State’s owner is an 18-year-old Yale freshman named Drew. A little more than a year ago, while on a coffee run for his family, he mused, “Wouldn’t it be great if profits from all these lattes could be channeled into great causes?” Before you could say macchiato, Blue State was born–at least in cyberspace. They started by selling coffee (and hope for a better future) online, and then explored where to open their first shop. Providence was chosen because they thought it would be a good haven–with the necessary liberal atmosphere.

So go. And bring the kids. There is indoor and outdoor seating, sweets from Seven Stars, and a new all organic PB&J. Plus, they can check out the art from local area artists that rotates every month. And it’s a wonderful way to introduce children to voting and making a donation to an important cause. (My daughter chose Stop Global Warming because, as she said, “We love the Earth.”) And you? Treat yourself to a cup of fair-trade coffee and lend your support to environmental protection, education, civil rights, alternative energy research, and more. Blue State Coffee: drink liberally.

Blue State Coffee
300 Thayer Street, Providence, RI
Monday — Friday: 7 am — 11 pm
Saturday — Sunday: 8 am — 11 pm

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  • This is not a comment on the political stuff–I just want to say that I peeked in at blue state and it is beautiful! I can’t believe a freshman is the CEO! I couldn’t even sell chipwiches out of a paper bag at that age. I’m very impressed.

    And I can’t help but think a “red state cafe” and then a “can’t-we-all-get-along/ purple state” cafe will come along soon to compete.

  • I recently got caught up in an incident where I accidentally offended people while stating my experience, opinions and insights. It was jarring, but also a wonderful reminder of how important it is to keep a kind heart, not take ourselves too seriously and remember: most of us really are setting out to live meaningful lives. Because we are a diverse, sensitive, imperfect group of humans, sometimes doing so will inevitably step on the toes of others. Without bringing partisanship, liberalness or conservativeness in to the picture, I think we all agree any business that donates 50% of its profits to causes it and its patrons believe in, any business that is interested in fairly reimbursing coffee distributors for their labor, and any business that is doing its share to help our environment, deserves our kudos–not our criticism. To take it one more step, any person willing to share a bit of themselves and their experience with wit and insight while also celebrating the altruism of others–regardless of whether we agree with every word they say–deserves our respect. I hope the thinking mom who was so offended by the article can give it a second reading when she is less reactive and then perhaps use her sharp and insightful mind to continue to express her point of view.

  • In response to the comment about politics in this website, we appreciate that people share their diverse opinions. I take my role as editor of this site seriously. We are simply trying to make information available for kids and families in Rhode Island and beyond. We understand that not everyone will be interested in everything we write about. However, we hope that people continue to read Kidoinfo to find useful information.

  • I’m saddened that you chose to ruin this site by bringing politics into it. There are conservative Republicans who come here looking for things to do with their families. Not all of your readers, including me, appreciate the political slant of this post. I thought this site was about fun stuff to do with our children in RI. Or is it about furthering your own political agenda? The most frustrating thing about RIers(not being native, but coming from a much bluer MA), is that there seems to be this belief that everyone should think and believe as you do. Wake up call, there are Republicans all around you, and we are increasing in number.
    This one post ruined this site for me. As it appears you are not here for the kids, but to further your own beliefs.

  • that place sounds heavenly! we will definitely go. we usually go out to lunch after church–i’ll try to get anisa to go too (since i know she’ll see this!)

Written by Anisa Raoof