Pay What You Can In Northern Colorado

Pay What You Can In Northern Colorado

4 donated-based restaurants thrive

FoCo Cafe

As they bid her goodbye the door closed quietly behind, and she walked away humbled, inspired and grateful.

FoCo Cafe is the first successful donation-based restaurant in Fort Collins. Customers are invited to pay what they would normally pay, what they are able to pay, pay it forward or to pay with their time and volunteer.

Cafe Executive Director Mallory Andrews is one of four employees, but there are just under 2,000 volunteers in the system. Volunteers prep and cook food, clean and help close, bus tables, administrative work, donation sorting, help host fundraisers and more.

“The mix of guests that we get is really one of our most important aspects,” Andrews said. “It is important that we keep that client base to keep our mission alive.”

FoCo Cafe started feeding the community Thanksgiving Day of 2014. The entire kitchen was donated, and the staff all volunteers.

Co-founders Jeff and Kathleen Baumgardner recently retired to Hawaii, where they are planning their next adventure. The two spent almost every day working at the cafe for three years, sometimes volunteering up to 80 hours a week.

Andrews and her fellow employees are excited to carry on the concept. Part of which includes minimizing waste.

"We've been told that we could possibly qualify as a no-waste restaurant,” she said. “So we are looking into the capacity to do that.”

All compostable items (paper towels, coffee grounds, tea bags, leftover plate food, etc.) go into the compost. The better scraps are saved and fed to chickens in town. The rest is used for worm composting.

Trash is limited to non-compostable, non-recyclable items. “All of our trash is taken out once a week, and it's less trash than my household of three people.”

You won’t find a community like the one at FoCo Cafe anywhere else, but there are three other restaurants in CO that offer meals on a pay-what-you-can basis.

1. Cafe 180 - Soup and sandwich lunch spot south of Denver in Englewood.

2. SAME Cafe - Small plates and other lunch options in downtown Denver.

3. Seeds Community Cafe - Breakfast and lunch menu made with locally sourced ingredients in Colorado Springs.

Managing a profitable restaurant is a challenge, let alone a non-profit. Stop in today to help keep the mission alive, or sign up to volunteer!

Not sure which cafe will fit best with your itinerary? Check out the map for location and hours. If you’d like a behind-the-scenes tour of the FoCo Cafe, just call ahead and the staff will be happy to accommodate you.
Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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I Love You Joe, See You Later

My Week Without Coffee

We live in a world surrounded by Starbucks Coffee shops on every corner and a large variety of coffee shops to appeal to our tastes and smells; constantly feeding our addictions. CNN Medical Correspondent wrote in her article called “Beware the perils of caffeine withdrawal” that coffee contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, and that trying to become independent of the drug can make you feel a little funny. Michael Kuhar, chief of the division of neuroscience at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta says,

“Withdrawal symptoms can start from 12 to 20 hours after your last cup of coffee and peak about two days later and can last about as long as a week.”

With those thoughts in mind, I decided to take a trip down recovery road just to clear myself of the caffeine dependency I’ve built up since the last time I gave up the juice. I devoted one week to my self-rehabilitation. Here’s the diary of how my week was without coffee. Follow me…


The First Day:

I woke up and immediately wanted my hot cup o’ joe, the night before was a late one; I didn’t leave work until 1 am and I had to be back in at 10 am so, this first day was seriously gonna suck.

I bought some green tea on the way into work and made it while at work. I like tea and all but it’s not something I look forward too first thing in the morning. By, 10:30 AM I was still tired and starting to get irritated, so I hit the tea again, double strength. As the day went by I tried to slow the drinking down, I had another cup at 1:30 pm and another at 5:30 pm. I tried to just drink more water as the day finished. One long day down, six more to go.

Day Two:

I was hungrier than usual probably because coffee is an appetite suppressant and now I had no COFFEE! But besides that, and my 11 AM headache, it was fine. I really needed some more sleep and some mad doses of caffeine. I was really feeling the withdrawals.

Day Three:

On the third day, there was peace and way less irritation. I guessed the worst part was over. I was drinking more water too. Altogether, I was drinking about 4 cups of green tea, paired with about 2 cups of water for every green tea. I was really liking tea even more, and that was a nice little breakthrough.

Day Four:

I didn’t have any tea today, and honestly, I felt fine. I had a lot of water, and I wasn’t sleepy. However, I was tired earlier, but I’m honestly all right with that.

Day Five:

Looks like smooth sailing from here; no headaches or cravings. I desired coffee because my whole place stills smelled like a coffee house from my excessive usage, but I didn’t crave it the way I did those first few days.

Day Six:

I figured since I’d made it through the darkness of beating the addiction, that I should have a cup, but I decided against it. I wanted to make it to the end of the week. So, this morning I had a green tea vanilla latte, hot. It was delicious. I love drinking delectable drinks, and since I prefer to craft at home I can have as many as I desire. This change wasn’t so hard after all.

Day Seven:

No complaints here, but I’m ready for that cup of hot coffee tomorrow.


Well, that about rounds it up. I’ve started back on the grind, drinking just the serving size six ounces. I also only drink a cup when I would like a cup, not as a part of my morning routine, I feel that has helped break the feeling of dependency. I’ll probably have to step away from coffee again in a few months just to refresh myself, but as of now, I feel good and really ready to start the new year like a hot cup of… um… green tea -- or coffee.

Farewell coffee lovers.


Cover Image Credit: Photo by Monika Dhita Adiati on Unsplash

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Stress Eating May Be A Sign Of An Unhealthy Food Addiction

The exact definition of "food addiction" is blurry.

This is the time of year we are all trying to keep our New Year's resolutions in check. Healthy eating habits are easy to maintain for the first couple weeks, but temptations creep up on us. Like a lot of people out there, you probably get frustrated that you're unable to focus on a steadily healthy diet.

In this article, I would like to explain a possible cause for any slips in your diet. There is an up-and-coming term called "food addiction" that may explain dieting difficulties.

The exact definition of "food addiction" is blurry. Can humans be addicted to all foods? Can humans be addicted to only one kind of food, such as meat? Or is it one part of a food that humans are addicted to, such as sugar?

Scientists are still hashing out those exact details. What they do know is that food addiction is a chemical dependency, like all other addictions.

Whichever part of the food we are addicted to causes chemical changes in our brain. Dopamine levels rise, which means we enjoy food and we want more of it. Our brains get a rush from the increased brain chemical and we want to keep it up so we eat more of what raises that level the most. This is how addictions form.

Sugar is a big cause of food addiction, seeing as it is 10 times more addictive than cocaine. In fact, certain foods are hyper-palatable, meaning they are loaded with fat, salt, and sugar so as to be extremely pleasing to the sense of taste. The more rewarding flavor we receive, the higher our dopamine level, and the more we want to eat.

To recognize if food is an addiction, you can point out a few key symptoms:

First, if you eat or snack non-stop all day, you may have a food addiction. This includes eating out of boredom or when you feel stressed.

Second, if you turn down food when offered in the presence of company but chow down once alone.

Third, if a particular food makes you sick but you eat it anyway knowing the consequences.

Fourth, if you feel distressed, restless, and unfocused when you intentionally or unintentionally go a longer duration without food.

Lastly, one possible cause of addiction could be brought about by a food restriction. If a doctor advises you to stop eating dairy (for example) as part of a dietary study (to test for lactose intolerance), you suddenly want to eat milk, cheese, and ice cream simply because someone told you not to. Or perhaps because you feel cutting out a particular food is unimportant, despite doctor's orders. It's not so much addiction as it is human nature, but it definitely follows similar traits.

In relation to dieting, food addiction could prevent you from eating healthy and losing weight because you might relapse into eating unhealthy. In one case, you may want to continue eating fat, salt, and sugar simply because you are no longer allowed to eat them.

In other cases, when you stop eating the bad foods, your body goes through withdraw. You become anxious, depressed, distressed, unfocused, and you cannot function. This mental state is nothing but anti-productive when trying to become a healthier person. Powering through the withdraw is largely a mental exercise in persistence.

A major method of beating a food addiction is to redirect your dependency toward a healthier action. For example, every time you feel the craving for salty foods, drink a large glass of cold water. With a steadfast repetition such as this, your brain will eventually replace salty cravings with the fulfillment of the water.

In another example, every time you want to gorge on food because you're stressed, go for a run or some form of exercise. Again, your brain will begin to associate stress relief with an exhilarating workout instead of comfort food.

Additionally, take note of your trigger foods to help you pinpoint your addiction. What foods do you eat when you are snacking, stress-eating, boredom-eating, craving, or just eating absentmindedly? Most often, these go-to foods are salty, sugary, or fatty. They could also be in the dairy, grain, or meat groups.

Keep a food journal to track what you crave and eat plus your emotions and environment at the time. In addition to mood, your physical surroundings can have an effect on what you eat. Being at a party or social situation can make you eat mindlessly. How many time have you gone to a party with refreshments and immediately filled a plate with cheese cubes, chips, and cookies?

Tracking everything you eat over time can help you pinpoint your addictions and replace them with healthier habits.

Once we fully understand the chemical reactions in our brain and how we can control them, we will be free from food cravings. So, as you're delving into your New Year's resolutions, keep these points in mind. If you find yourself struggling to focus on healthier eating habits, perhaps food addiction is to blame.

I hope you are able to work through your struggles and achieve a healthier you.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Prather

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