Talking Sustainability with Goddess and the Baker

By Carly Schulman


I sat down with the Tami of the Goddess and the Baker amid food, drink, and café bustle at the Lasalle and Wacker location to discuss what the cafe has accomplished and the challenges they still face as they improve their environmental sustainability.  

The sustainability challenge at the forefront of Tami’s mind is reducing waste at the front of house – encouraging consumers to utilize for-here utensils, cups, and plates and selling reusable coffee mugs.  But ultimately this loop location is facing the fast-paced work culture of its locality, and it’s an uphill battle to keep encourage customers to slow down just a little (or plan ahead and bring a reusable cup) to reduce their reliance on plastic takeaway containers and cups.  Sometimes customers get to-go cups just in case they leave their meeting with leftovers, yet those cups only make it as far as the garbage at Goddess’s door.

strawberry matcha

On the flip side, when Tami spoke about their actions in the back of house, it took her a while to remember what was a sustainability initiative, as those actions are so ingrained and normalized at the Goddess and the Baker that she doesn’t think of it as an accomplishment, just business as usual.  As a part of Debbie Sharpe’s collection of cafes, it is unsurprising that they are committed to recycling – after all, Sharpe was one of the firsts, if not the first, restaurateur to start recycling in Chicago.  In addition to keeping up with the recycling legacy, Goddess and the Baker is picky about where and how they get their food (which pays off in dividends, as you will find out if you eat at one of their locations).

Over the course of the morning, I consumed two food items and two drinks.  The Goddess and the Baker’s iconic rainbow cake is the perfected adult version of cake at a kid’s birthday party.  Their huevos rancheros tostados are a delicious breakfast (or any meal), with an enjoyable crunch – but be prepared to use your hands to eat them!  The Vietnamese iced coffee was sweet, creamy, and strong.  And, last by not least, the strawberry matcha latte combined two tasty flavors, and was well matched with the cake as part of my mid-morning dessert.  I left not only full, but also feeling quite a buzz from all the caffeine!

While I had the luxury of being able to take my work with me, and thus enjoyed everything on reusable “for here” wear, other more rushed consumers still have options that can help them keep pace with the work culture of the area while supporting sustainability initiatives like that of the Goddess and the Baker.  Having your own reusable travel coffee mug makes it easy to take your drink to-go without relying on disposable cups.  Additionally, if you are meeting someone at Goddess or a similar café, you can always get your drink in a for-here cup, and then ask for a to-go cup only if you have left-overs you wish to take with you when it’s time to leave!