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Mugs: A Coffee Shop With a Vision for the Future

A customer stands in line at Mugs Coffee Lounge.

In 2002, McCabe Callahan had a vision for a coffee shop after graduating from CSU. Now, Mugs Coffee Lounge is one of the most environmentally and socially responsible businesses on College Avenue.

From partnering with Fort Collins Utilities’ Green Energy Program, to committing to fair trade, to growing some of its own ingredients, Mugs is committed to serving both the local community and the environment.

After 13 years, Callahan still manages to dedicate his own personal time and resources to his green business model.

“I created a 1,500 square foot garden in the front yard of my house where I grow vegetables for Mugs,” Callahan said. “I usually bring in about two to three pounds per week right now, but there will be more to come as I have more time to focus on it.”

Callahan said he grows vegetables like tomatoes, jalapenos, cucumbers and squash. Mugs is a unique coffee shop because it has a large specialized menu, and it makes almost everything in-house, such as baked goods.

“Our house blend is Guatemalan,” Callahan said. “However, we bring in coffee from around the world.”

More than 85 percent of the products at Mugs are fair trade, organic, homegrown or locally produced.

The business is committed to fair trade, buying from local farmers. But, while fair trade has huge benefits for the farmers, Mugs has to compete with larger businesses that practice free trade.

“It is hard,” Callahan said. “What seems like such an easy thing can sometimes be extremely challenging  to execute.”

cup of coffee in a Mugs mug
Mugs at the Oval offers a pumpkin spice latte for the fall season. (Photo by Davis Bonner)

Waste management is another difficulty Mugs has to deal with in order to be environmentally responsible. Many businesses in Fort Collins ask customers to sort trash into compost, landfill and recyclable waste bins like Mugs does. However, this practice is not yet common in society.

“There are so many things to throw away and so many options,” Callahan said. “Even Whole Foods has challenges making sure it is clear and simple to know where you should put things. There is not pushback on the intention or effort, but sometimes I see frustration on figuring out where things should go.”

Callahan said that dedication to the future is what drives him to put these environmentally responsible ideas into practice at his business.

“I just want to leave the world a better place than I found it,” Callahan said. “Now that I have two children, it is even more important to me that I try my best to leave a world as good as I can so that they can appreciate it even more.”