The following feature appears in the Fall 2016 issue of Medley Magazine.
As one customer orders a small Brazilian pour-over to go, a group of students discuss their geography project among the low chatter in Café Kubal. Several others sit on wooden pews, chairs, and tables. Mason jars dangle from the ceiling to provide additional light.
Katherine Kokeas, a sophomore at Syracuse University, frequently visits the café for a good latte. “Unlike Starbucks or other coffee shops, Café Kubal has a true café vibe on campus,” Kokeas says. “It’s one of the only coffee shops around campus that offers a big enough seating area. I feel comfortable meeting friends and staying for a long time.” Café Kubal exists within a larger roasting company called Kubal Roaster. Matt Godard, the owner of Kubal Roaster, started roasting coffee from his parents’ basement after he took a trip to Guatemala in 2004. The trip showed him how coffee can positively impact a community. The Syracuse native has since opened La Roasteria, an office and wholesale roasting space that supplies five Kubal cafés in the area. Those cafés are known as much for their coffee as they are for their partnerships with local non-profits.
“Café Kubal is really designed to be one with the community.”
The SU Cafe is perhaps the most well-known location to Syracuse students. It sits right across from the Whitman School of Management and shares a space with 3fifteen, one of the several Thrifty Shopper stores run by the Rescue Mission. 3fifteen uses profits from donated clothing to provide food, clothes, and a place to eat for the local homeless. According to the Kubal website, the café sends eight percent of its profits from every sale to the Rescue Mission. Plus, anyone who donates a bagful of household items to 3fifteen receives a free coffee.
Eric Veaudry, a manager at 3fifteen, notes the partnership’s positive impact on both businesses.“It’s been very beneficial through a traffic standpoint. People come into Kubal and aren’t familiar with 3fifteen, but they’re familiar with Kubal because there are different locations around town,” he explains.
One of these locations is now housed in Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. In May 2016, Kubal partnered with Upstate Golisano for an in-hospital café on the eleventh floor, replacing Tim Hortons. This 24-hour location is in a space managed by Advocates for Upstate Medical University, a non-profit raising thousands of dollars to support Upstate hospitals. In Godard’s style, the café donates a portion of the proceeds to Advocates. The money improves patient care and funds medical education. To cater to children, Café Kubal even alters their menu to include things like mac and cheese, corn dogs, and ice cream.
Megan Ferreira, a barista at Upstate, previously worked at Tim Hortons and noticed a big difference in the atmosphere between Tim Hortons and Kubal. “People are happier and more friendly with us,” Ferreira says. “They really appreciate the good food and coffee, and kids love ice cream. That definitely brightens their day.”
In September, Café Kubal partnered with the city for the national “Imagine a Day Without Water” campaign. They raised awareness in their downtown store by putting “No Water, No Coffee” stickers on all of their coffee sleeves.
Audrey O’Donnell works as a barista at the SU Café, which took part in the campaign. “Café Kubal is really designed to be one with the community, so we’re always willing to incorporate and help out local campaigns or organizations in our stores,” O’ Donnell says.
Kubal’s dedication to benefiting local charities serves the Syracuse area and enhances the customer experience. “It’s important to me because of how much a community like Syracuse thrives due to places like Kubal,” Kokeas says. “Personally, because of how much Syracuse has shaped me, I love to see this city thrive.”
written by Danielle Marie Agugliaro