Her Recession: Spokane business woman stays grounded in going green

SPOKANE, Wash. — One local coffee shop is feeling the burn from COVID but staying committed to sustainable, organic and green practices.

First Avenue Coffee has lost 80% of its business since the pandemic started. From in-person dining restrictions, to fewer people having spare cash to spend eating out, it hasn’t been an easy time for small businesses. However, Deborah Di Bernardo, owner of First Avenue Coffee, isn’t letting COVID change what she believes in.

“I just can’t compromise supporting sustainable coffee. I can’t. I won’t,” Di Bernardo said.

Her business features organic, fair-trade coffee beans, compostable to-go cups and people always ready to talk about how to help the environment. COVID has heightened an already volatile situation. Some coffee beans could go extinct in the next 10 to 20 years, according to current research. Now, more people are staying home and ordering take-out which could do even more damage to the coffee industry.

“The damage we’re doing to our supply chain hasn’t gone away; if anything, it’s only gotten worse because more and more of us are doing to go, take out,” said Di Bernardo. “We’ve gone from a consumer society that is causing a lot of environmental damage to one where we’ve really kicked it up, and we’ve increased the amount of impact we’ve had on our environment.”

It’s important to Di Bernardo to make sustainability part of her lifestyle and says people need to think green as much as possible. To help coffee drinkers with that in these tough times, you can bring your own reusable cup to First Avenue, and they’ll brew your favorite drink in it.

Focusing on the environment is important to Di Bernardo because the implications go much further than only affecting her life; it impacts generations to come.

“Our supplies are going away. While it’s not going to hurt me because of my age, it’s sure going to impact my daughters and my granddaughter,” Di Bernado said.