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Brewing for a cause at Conscious Cup

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CRYSTAL LAKE – Rick Copper stared intently at his laptop as he sipped a Sumatran blend in a wide white mug.

The Algonquin resident has been enjoying premium-grade coffees at Conscious Cup for four years. In fact, he said, he visits nearly daily.

“If you’re a fan of coffee, you should always seek out the best, and you’re not going to find anything better than here,” he said.

Managing partner Michael Shipley said Conscious Cup in Crystal Lake has been serving up in-house roasted, socially and environmentally sustainable coffees from around the world for seven years.

So, how does one define “socially and environmentally sustainable” coffees?

The Shipleys (Michael, his father, Jack, and mother, Roseanna) buy only from small producers to larger fair trade cooperatives that ensure the farmers and laborers earn a livable wage and use environmentally conscious processes.

Sumatra, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Kenya are among regions from which the Shipleys procure beans.

“And we roast it right here in the café with the goal of highlighting the flavors unique to the regions in which the coffee is grown,” Michael Shipley said.

About two years ago, the shop moved from Cog Circle to its current, larger location at 5005 Route 14, on the south side of the highway between Manor and Pingree roads.

Michael and Jack Shipley said Conscious Cup is more than a place to grab a cup of superior joe and have breakfast or lunch.

“We’re a micro roaster,” the younger Shipley said. “We have the full café and retail coffee operation, but we also wholesale. We sell to other coffee shops in the area, churches, restaurants and a doughnut shop.”

The Shipleys also manage and operate a sister store in Barrington called Cook Street Coffee. Between the two sites, they employ about 15 people.

Both shops offer bagged coffee ranging from $16 up to about $22 for a pound, or, in the case of super premium varieties, 12 ounces.

Recently, Conscious Cup began a partnership with Ten Thousand Villages, and now features associated fair trade artisan goods, such as hand-blown glass vases from the West Bank in the Middle East, brilliantly colorful silk yarn mittens from Nepal and much more.

“It’s an extension of our respect for the people in the areas from which we buy our coffee,” Jack Shipley said. “Small amounts of money given to the right people increase opportunities across the globe.”

Conscious Cup has seating for about 40 and offers breakfast and lunch as well as high-grade coffees, teas, lattés, smoothies and more. For other information, visit consciouscup.com. And to learn more about Ten Thousand Villages, check out the “About Us” section at tenthousandvillages.com.

Business name: Conscious CupLocation: 5005 Route 14, Crystal LakeSpecialties: In-house roasted, socially and environmentally sustainable coffees from around the globe; breakfast, lunch; artisan goodsHours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. SundaysInformation: Call 815-356-0115; www.consciouscup.com

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