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San Diego-Based Coffee Company Launches Sustainable Jar Exchange Program

Since Jan. 1, 2021, James Coffee Co. no longer offers paper to-go cups and lids for their customers.

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A San Diego-based coffee company is doing away with single-use cups in its shops in an effort to increase sustainability efforts.

Since Jan. 1, 2021, James Coffee Co. no longer offers paper to-go cups and lids for their customers. Instead, customers are able to partake in a glass jar exchange.

For a $1.25 deposit, customers will be given their drink order in either a 12-ounce or 16-ounce jar. The jar will also come with a James Coffee Co. sleeve and a metal lid.

When the customer is finished with their drink, they are asked to rinse out the jar and return it, along with the sleeve and lid, on their next visit. All returned jars will be cleaned and sanitized by the James Coffee Co. team. From here, the customer can decide if they would like to order another drink that will come in a new, clean jar or get their deposit back.

David Kennedy, the owner of James Coffee Co., told NBC7 that the change is something that the company has been wanting to do for a while. He said he visited other coffee shops with similar programs and knew it was something he wanted to emulate.

“If I say we go through 7,000 cups a week, that’s plastic and paper,” said Kennedy. “But that also includes lids and sleeves and everything that goes along with it.”

Kennedy explained that, as an individual, it is easy to lose sight of the amount of waste being produced, but for someone like him working in a coffee shop, it is difficult to grapple with the amount of waste that piles up.

“It’s almost like you’re hypersensitive to it when you’re daily working and you’re seeing the garbage bags come together,” said Kennedy.

According to Kennedy, the response from customers on the new program has been largely positive. Although, he admitted not everyone is on-board when they learn that jars are their only option.

“That’s actually something we had to learn too. People would be like, ‘Oh that’s cool, but no.’ Then we would have to tell people like, ‘Oh no, actually this is all we got,’” explained Kennedy.

He added that while the transition away from single-use cups is a good start, he plans to tackle other areas in the near future.

“You try to create an environment that you’re proud of and that’s all you can do,” said Kennedy.

James Coffee Co. has three locations in San Diego County including shops in Little Italy, Bankers Hill and North Park.

As of now, Kennedy mentioned that James Coffee Co. is not accepting any kind of personal cups. According to their website, used jars that are returned with leftover drink or mold in them will also not be accepted. For more information on the glass jar exchange, click here.

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