Where does your coffee come from? For many consumers, the answer is probably “the grocery store.” But the origin of your coffee beans can have a significant impact on their taste – and the environment. The folks behind Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters aim to shed light on that relationship.

“This is something you drink everyday and a lot of people don’t think twice about it,” says Mike Shipley, owner of Conscious Cup. “We want to connect consumers to the everyday products that they’re buying. Coffee is this perfect opportunity to connect the dots.”

The local coffee shop has been roasting and serving sustainable coffee since 2006. Working closely with importing partners, Shipley and his partner source their beans directly from fair-trade farms from around the globe. One of the key factors they consider is whether a farm is eco- friendly.

“We want our coffee to taste good for our customers and to be produced in an environmentally sustainable way,” says Shipley. “When

coffee is grown within a natural ecosystem, it improves the quality and flavor of the coffee.”

Besides taste, the method of growing has a major impact on the surrounding environment. Some of the most serious consequences of mass coffee production include pollution, deforestation, and even animal extinction due to habitat destruction.

Now, small coffee trends are trying to reverse the damage.

“You’re starting to see movement toward truly sustainable growing,” says Shipley. “You’re not seeing the all-out rainforest cutting at these farms, they’re growing within a healthy, vibrant ecosystem.”

Shipley seeks out coffee producers that use these sustainable methods. One of these producers is an organic, women-owned co-op in Uganda. Conscious Cup were the first North American roasters to import their beans. Shipley has been more impressed with the output each year, and the product has been named one of the best coffees reviewed last year by Coffee Review.

“It’s a great example of a group of growers who have increased their quality year after year and grow within a natural ecosystem with environmental stewardship,” says Shipley.

Conscious Cup also sources from farms in Ethiopia, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Papua New Guinea and more. Shipley works closely with importing partners and takes trips around the globe to seek out the best sustainable suppliers.

Once they’ve selected the farms, all their beans are roasted in small batches to enhance the natural flavor of the beans and highlight the

nuances of the region where it the beans were grown.

“There’s this whole world of coffee farms that are growing phenomenal coffees, and we wanted to bring that to Crystal Lake,” says Shipley.

Conscious Cup sells its roasted beans in store and online. All the packaging is sustainably made and compostable. Visitors to the shop also can choose from a variety of specialty drinks, including craft lattes, cold brew and loose-leaf teas. There also are breakfast sandwiches and pastries to pair with beverages.

Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters

5005 Northwest Hwy., Suite 10, Crystal Lake 815-356-0115www.consciouscup.com