By Rita Cook     

When Carlene Saelg, president of Pearl Cup Coffee opened the little coffee shop several years ago with her partner she had one thing on her mind - allowing folks to get a cup of coffee while enjoying an eco-friendly environment in the heart of Dallas.

“We are a small business so we have a pretty tight budget, but we do all that we can afford to in staying true to our recycling and re-purposing values,” Saelg says.

Anchored by this environmental mindset, Pearl Cup Coffee just keeps growing. 

In fact, Saelg says they are expecting to open an additional two shops in the next year and she recently signed a lease for the Sylvan/30 project, set to be the only 100% LEED certified building in Dallas.

“The comments from customers were many in the beginning,” Saelg says.  She says she continued to hear how great Pearl Cup was being ecologically sensitive to raves about the soy-based insulation, which got a lot of attention since most people have no idea about the chemicals from ordinary blown-in insulation.

“Our natural soy based insulation is non toxic and we always use "no VOC" paint (an eco-friendly paint) on our walls,” Saelg explains also mentioning that the coffee is from local roaster, Coffee Eiland who works with a coffee broker and buys only top quality beans from around the world.  Many of the beans are "direct trade," which differs from "fair trade" in that the farmers are paid directly at an agreed upon price for their coffee, which is always higher than the standard "fair trade" price. 

Discussing the story behind the shop's name, Saelg sites “Rita's (Saelg’s coffee shop partner) love of pearls, the classy and uniquely different name it would give the coffee shop, meaning not your usual "java joint"  and her fond memories of visiting her grandmother who happened to live on Pearl Street in Kansas.”

Without a doubt "The Pearl Latte" is the Pearl Cup’s most popular item as well as the Italian Cappuccino, a traditional seven-ounce drink with equal parts milk and foam allowing for the taste of the sweetness of the Pearl Cup espresso.

Another green practice the company incorporates to reduce their carbon footprint is using eco-friendly paper cups. This means that the paper used in the cups are not coated with a petroleum product and therefore are 100% fully biodegradable and compostable in a commercial composting facility.

“All the green practices that we use at the shop we also use at home,” Saelg says.  “We recycle everything we possibly can.”

Saelg says she’d like to start a vegetable garden this year too so composting is high on her list as a natural fertilizer.  They also bag up the spent coffee grounds at the shop to give away to customers since spent coffee grounds are excellent for outdoor flowering shrubs. 

“Being a green company is a choice and we make that choice out of our own personal commitment to doing our part for a healthy planet,” Saelg concludes. “ We know it costs a bit more to be green, but if more and more of the big corporations operated with the same concern for the environment we could all make a huge difference.”

1900 B Henderson Ave., Dallas Texas 75206

750 N. St. Paul Ave., Dallas, Texas 75201

Rita Cook is a freelance writer who has worked as a special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News and other major publications.