by 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