Vienna: From Green Bean to ‘Green’

Vienna: From Green Bean to ‘Green’

Caffe Amouri wins Virginia Green Restaurant of the Year award.


Caffe Amouri owner Michael Amouri uses cornstarch cold cups and fettucine stirrers in the coffee house honored as the “Green Restaurant of the Year” by the Virginia Green Travel Alliance.


Caffe Amouri manager Nicki Amouri shares the floor with the coffee shop’s bean roaster.


Even cup sleeves are recycled at Caffe Amouri. Coffee grounds are left outside for local gardeners to take and use in their gardens.

When Caffe Amouri opened in July of 2010, owner Michael Amouri incorporated immediately the shop’s goals laid out in Amouri’s business plan: quality, community, sustainability. Each of his goals have been met on a continuing basis over the lifetime of Caffe Amouri, whose customers patronize the coffee house for “community” as much as they do for the quality of its small-batch coffee beans Amouri roasts daily.

And, with no bid by Caffe Amouri to the Virginia Green Travel Alliance [VGTA] for this recognition, the association honored Caffe Amouri as Virginia’s “Green Restaurant of the Year.”

On Feb. 24, Caffé Amouri officially receives the Virginia Green Travel Star Award as the Green Restaurant of the Year for its “exceptional efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of its operation,” says Tom Griffin, the executive director of the Virginia Green Travel Alliance.

“ … Virginia Green Travel partners like Caffé Amouri are truly leading our program’s efforts to reduce environmental impacts and increase green tourism business in Virginia.”

--Tom Griffin, executive director, Virginia Green Travel Alliance

“ … Virginia Green Travel partners like Caffé Amouri are truly leading our program’s efforts to reduce environmental impacts and increase green tourism business in Virginia,” Griffin said.

SUSTAINABILITY, Amouri said, would be an important attribute of his mission statement.

“I just knew we’d seek out ways to conserve resources, implement sustainable practices,” he said.

From cold cups made of corn starch rather than plastic, fettucine coffee stirrers (big hit with little kids), windows that open in warm weather, and coffee grounds set out in a bin for free use by local gardeners, all underscore Amouri’s commitment to sustainability, “leaving the earth a better place for our children,” he says.

While “green” practices cost more than conventional, the expense is worth it personally to Amouri. “You can’t pass those costs on to customers, so, we just eat it,” Amouri said.

“If something is good for people, the environment, it’s worth it. I can sleep at night knowing I’ve tried my best.”

The copious amount of coffee grounds that Caffe Amouri produces every day disappears quickly after being set outside. Acid-loving plants, such as azalea, thrive with coffee-bean compost.

Amouri’s business ethos takes human capital into its fold. “When I buy coffee beans from my brokers, they have a lot of relationships with the growers themselves. Whenever possible, we buy from small farmers. It’s human sustainability.”

Caffe Amouri’s baristas are trained to go beyond making a perfect cup of coffee, Amouri said. They learn the nuances of the beans and are always ready to describe a bean’s attribute to a customer. More than serving coffee and fine teas, the staff at Caffe Amouri greet customers as they would friends, and neighbors meet neighbors here.

“I love the neighborhood feel of this little gem,” said Vienna Arts Center director Lu Cousins. “So many times when I come in, folks at the tables will give me a quick wave, and, as we sit and sip on the delicious coffee, neighbors stop by and share news or ask what's going on in my world. What's not to love?”

CUSTOMERS who know Michael Amouri or his daughter Nicki, the shop’s manager, stop to greet them when they enter or leave. They read the notices on the cork board or peruse the covers of the vinyl albums hanging on the wall. When the coffee house is busy, customers will share tables.

Caffe Amouri is a part of the community.

Sipping a cup of coffee at Caffe Amouri, is “like having a coffee at home, just the way I like it,” said Gary Moonan, a regular customer and Virginia Business Association colleague of Amouri. Amouri is, once again, on the board of directors of the VBA and First Night Vienna was Amouri’s idea.

Caffe Amouri features open mic nights and Penny University presentations by local specialists in their fields. Amouri and his coffee house support charities and nonprofits with donations and events.

“No matter what I’ve done, it’s been fun doing,” said Amouri. “This shop is fun. I’m not going to do anything if it is not fun for me.”

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