South Austin gem Cosmic Coffee + Beer has firmly made a name for itself as one of the most popular coffee establishments in Austin. Cosmic’s expansive menu and mellow vibe are out of this world, but its environmentally sustainable practices are firmly grounded in planet Earth.
We recently took a tour of Cosmic through an event hosted by the US Green Building Council – Central Texas chapter to learn how the local business built and maintains this living, breathing space while providing a top-notch experience.
Terra Rose, Cosmic’s lead sustainability expert and overseer of the property, led a tour of 40 attendees through the unique aspects that has earned Cosmic the coveted Platinum Award from the City of Austin’s Green Business Leaders program .
Founded by native Austinites, Cosmic’s founders wanted to create an environment that embraced principles of permaculture, sustainability and regenerative systems while also honoring Austin’s rich musical and cultural heritage. The result is a space that is as appealing for its ambiance as it is for its environmental approach.
“Cosmic’s sustainable environment is only successful if our visitors cannot tell where the naturally grown space ends and the maintained space begins,” Terra explains. “In fact, maintenance is in many ways as important as the creation of a sustainable space itself.”
Join us on some of our favorite parts of the tour, highlighted below.
The Herb Garden
The tour kicked off with a brief stroll through the herb garden. Framing Cosmic’s entrance, this 123-square-foot garden may be small, but it’s mighty. Flush with leafy greens and herbs including rosemary, mint, and basil, the garden creates an inviting feel and aroma to guests as they arrive.
When harvested, these herbs flavor beverages, help with insect control and even to smudge the space for some spiritual cleansing. Hidden within the herb garden is a lizard habitat – which serves as a natural pest-control service, keeping the garden active and healthy without harmful pesticides.
The Oak Trees
From the garden, your gaze will inevitably drift to the massive oak trees that seamlessly weave into a canopy above the front patio area. Prior to planting these gentle giants, Cosmic conducted extensive research to find the best trees to plant for Austin’s climate and soil. Oak trees from Glen Flora in Southeast Texas fit the bill. Moving these 20-year-old oak trees was a labor of love, and is a reflection of the care with which Cosmic tends to its space.
The Koi Pond
As you wander throughout Cosmic, you may notice it being crowded, yet never frenetic or overwhelming. This air of calm is intentional, again through the work of its on-staff sustainability experts. The Koi pond represents a perfect balance of this form and function.
The Koi pond itself is a closed system, meaning it is self-sufficient with little need for intervention. The water levels are maintained through the 2500-gallon rainwater collection system and roof cistern that feeds into the pond, powered only by a small pump.
Moss and other edible plants grow on the rocks in the pond, which feed the fish as well as the chickens on site (we’ll get to them later). Frogs, toads, dragonflies, lizards, and the occasional turtle are frequent visitors, and several local honeybee hives harvest water during the warm seasons.
These details have made the Koi pond a Certified Wildlife Habitat as it meets the criteria to autonomously provide shelter, water and food sources for its inhabitants.
Be sure to visit this little space and have your Moment of Zen.
Chickens n’ Compost
Nestled stage left is the Cosmic chicken coop, housing eight laying hens. The coop is made from a repurposed, early 20th century horse-drawn carriage, with time and expertise donated by Cosmic staff and their friends – a true labor of love.
The chickens pay their rent by producing one to two eggs each per day. Their diet of green waste from onsite food trucks enables the chickens to be an important step in the composting process, which happens just a few feet away.
Cosmic composts in seven separate stages over the course of a three-month cycle, with frequent turning and aerating. Beyond building the topsoil, composting sequesters carbon which reduces Cosmic’s carbon footprint, in turn enriching the wildlife habitat. It also helps create a sustainable garden that doesn’t need commercial fertilizer or other chemicals.
Growing a Sustainable Local Business
To learn more about Cosmic’s commitment to sustainable practices, visit their web page dedicated to sustainability. Or better yet, visit Cosmic in person – you’ll quickly understand why Cosmic’s passion for sustainability keeps its guests enlightened and grounded at the same time.
Interested in transforming your business to a sustainable enterprise? Our sustainability team can craft a strategy that shrinks your carbon footprint and elevates your brand to new heights. Contact us for a free consultation today.