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New coffee shop subscription service supports local businesses, sustainability

Posted at 3:56 PM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-08 15:20:26-04

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Promoting sustainability while also supporting local, small businesses — that’s the goal of a new coffee shop subscription service, Cafilia, founded in the Cleveland area.

“I want people to know that when you hold this cup - you stand for local business support and sustainability,” Aleksandra Brankov, the founder of Cafilia, said.

Sustainability was top of mind for Brankov when she came up with the idea for Cafilia.

“I decided to start Cafilia because I went to a retreat with some friends and I saw that they kept using their sustainable travel mugs to get their coffee refills throughout the weekend so I thought, what's a way that people could take their sustainable mugs and bring that back into their daily habits, where they're able to use it on a daily basis,” Brankov said.

People can sign up for 10, 15, or 20 coffees a month online, get a reusable glass mug in the mail, and take it to any of the six participating shops in the Cleveland area.

“They bring it in, they order their drink, they hand over the cup. And that's it. No transaction process needed and they get their coffee,” Brankov said.

But sustainability is just one factor.

“It supports local business because it brings them this visibility and foot traffic by having them become part of the Cafilia network and community,” Brankov said.

That’s been true for 3-19 Coffee which has locations in Ohio City and Shaker Heights. Brankov says 75% of Cafilia subscribers who have gone to the Ohio City location have been brand new.

“We definitely see it a little more in Ohio City, it's somewhat new here to Shaker, but we've definitely been seeing traffic come through with the Cafilia cup so it's great,” Mike Vehar, the co-founder of 3-19 Coffee, said.

Vehar said business really slowed down in March and April but has since picked up to about 80% of what it was pre-pandemic. He credits support from community members, along with new customers from the Cafilia network.

“It gives opportunities for independent cafes like ours an additional channel to be exposed to a different community or population, just due to the app itself,” Vehar said.

Cafilia launched on July 1, right in the midst of the pandemic.

Some may say unlucky timing, but Brankov thinks it was right on time.

“There's never a better moment to have done this, than now where I'm actually empowering local coffee shops by bringing that visibility they need by being their marketing power to bring people to their shops and support local - which is what they really need right now,” Brankov said.

Cafilia currently partners with six local coffee shops: Root Cafe in Lakewood, Cafe Phix in Midtown, Caffeine in Lakewood, 3-19 Coffee in Ohio City, Burning River in Lakewood, and 3-19 Coffee in Shaker Heights. More information about Cafilia and how to sign up can be found on their website, Instagram, and Facebook.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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