Elm City Java, a recently opened espresso cafe, is serving up more than just coffee to the New Haven area.
Located on Whitney Avenue, Elm City Java is New Haven’s first fully equipped Internet cafe. The establishment, which opened in May, is also the only place students and residents alike can find a menu completely consisting of organically grown coffees and teas bought through fair trade.
The concept of fair trade focuses on a number of issues including fair wages, consumer education, and the cultivation of socially responsible product importers. Nathan Wrann, who owns the cafe with his mother, Carol Thibeault, noticed a lack of fair trade coffee available in New Haven and decided to open Elm City Java to fill that void. He said the beans in Elm City Java’s coffee are not farmed at a “sweatshop in the field,” and that other shops might charge a higher rate for fair trade coffee but that Elm City Java does not.
“The opinions of our customers are that we have the best coffee in New Haven,” Wrann said in an e-mail.
Besides coffees and teas, the cafe also offers a wide variety of pastries and foods, including a large selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
In addition to food and socially conscious coffee, the shop also is New Haven’s first and only Internet cafe. Internet access is free with a purchase. There are currently four iMac computers available, but customers can also take advantage of the cafe’s wireless network, as power outlets and couches are located throughout the two-story establishment. Wrann says the cafe also hopes to expand its services to include such features as video editing and printing.
Starting this month, the cafe will also begin a weekly Friday night music showcase where local acoustic artists will perform. Elm City Java has already begun to promote these artists by playing their music over the sound system. Wrann also hopes to expand these activities to include open-mic and gaming nights.
The new cafe recently has been getting business from Yale students. Amy Kohout ’03 said she appreciated the shop’s fair trade practices, among other things, and would continue coming back.
“The coffee’s really good, and the food’s really good,” she said. “Only Silliman [College] and Timothy Dwight [College] people come to the Whitney area, but it’s a very nice area.”
In addition to his store’s own fair trade practices, Wrann said he hopes other store owners will follow his lead and open businesses that sell more fair-trade and organic products.
“The global economy benefits, the farmer’s and consumer’s health benefit — and the environment and the local animals benefit,” he said.
Wrann said Elm City Java will be a business he will be able to feel good about. He added that he would not want to look back on his life and say, “Well, I was very successful, but I ripped off a lot of people to get there.”