News / Edmonton

A Nook for those in need: Cafe lets customers buy coffee for people who can't afford it

Nook Café in downtown Edmonton has started a suspended coffee program, inviting customers to buy a future treat for someone who can’t afford one.

Lynsae Moon, owner of Nook Cafe, wants everyone to feel welcome at her store.

Sarah Hoyles / For Metro

Lynsae Moon, owner of Nook Cafe, wants everyone to feel welcome at her store.

Nook Café, a new coffee shop that opened downtown this summer, wants to create a welcoming space for everyone in the neighbourhood, one coffee and pastry at a time.

They’ve started a suspended coffee program, inviting customers to buy a future hot beverage or snack for someone who can’t afford one.

How it works is simple: anyone can buy a button for $3 and place it in a jar on the counter next to the till. When someone can’t afford to buy a drink or food, they can cash in a button and get a coffee and day-old pastry.

“I want people in three-piece suits to sit next to homeless people and drink coffee together,” said Lynsae Moon, the café’s co-owner and operator. “And it’s happening.”

Moon saw the program running at a coffee shop in Vancouver earlier this year and loved it. So much so, that when she and her mom opened up The Nook Café this past July, across from Canada Place, she knew she wanted to run the program too.

“You have three-piece suits, you have an arts community, you have an inner-city community,” explained Moon. “I’m more interested in creating a community hub. And I wanted to put something in a community that celebrates how it is. To me it’s the difference between revitalization and gentrification.”

“They can use it (the button) like currency, so it breaks down the need to even come and be like I heard you give away free coffee. Nobody has to know. I can just take a button.”

Hardly anyone was redeeming the buttons during the early months of the café’s operation. But when November’s cold snap hit the jar emptied quickly. Moon put out a call via social media, to help The Nook help others. People stepped up to restock the jar.  

Nowadays, as many as 15 people a day redeem a button and take a break inside the café. It’s a welcome sight for Moon, who said while she hopes poverty doesn’t exist one day, it likely won’t be anytime soon.

“While we continue to empower people and give them hand-ups, I would also like them to feel seen and validated for where they are now.”

More on Metronews.ca