Type and press ENTER
Hit ESC to close
Screen shot 2021 05 05 at 16.45.51
Main image by @kalicoffeebar on Instagram

Meet Kali Coffee: the sustainable coffee shop shaking up Salthill

Sustainable and dog-friendly, what's not to love?


Kali Coffee are so much more than just another coffee shop on the bustling Irish coffee scene. 

Not so long ago, finding a decent cup of coffee in Ireland was as hard to come by as toilet roll was at the start of the pandemic. Tea reigned supreme in cafés across the country and coffee was never more than a mere afterthought. But over the last decade, coffee culture has established itself as part of the fabric of today's society. Once a country content with drinking Maxwell House, we are now a country well versed in flat whites, lattes, Aeropress, filter coffee and more. Whether in the city centre or a small countryside town, all it takes is a short walk to stumble upon a bustling coffee shop – or five – slinging shots of speciality coffee.

And despite the coffee market in Ireland being somewhat saturated, more independent coffee houses, roasters, vans and even shipping containers turned cafés have continued to pop up over the past year. "As a lovely man on Twitter pointed out when we first launched, there are 'close to 13 of them so best of luck,'" remarks Laura Kelly, co-owner of Salthill's latest coffee shop, Kali Coffee. Despite there being a range of well-established cafés and coffee shops in Galway, Laura and her partner, Enda Johnston saw a gap in the market and jumped. "There aren't any [coffee shops in Salthill] that are on the speciality side so we hoped that the residents in Salthill were looking for that."

But it wasn't just a gap in the market that motivated Laura and Enda to open up their own coffee shop. "When I met Enda, almost five years ago now, he always had this dream to open his own café," tells Laura. "I had the dream to work for myself and I love chatting with people - the two dreams just clicked, I suppose." However, it wasn't until a few months ago, that their dream became a reality. The couple both worked in the coffee and hospitality industry in Ireland before moving to Amsterdam in 2019. "We moved back home at the start of 2020 and decided it was time to get cracking on this wild dream we always talked about," says Laura.

Then the pandemic hit and much like the rest of our lives, Laura and Enda's dream was put on hold. "We were some of the lucky ones that when the pandemic hit, we were able to slow down, work from home and figure out what the next step would be," comments Laura. And while their dreams of opening up their own café were put on hold, the duo decided to go after a different dream of theirs: adopting a dog. "During that working from home period, Enda adopted a beautiful puppy from Madra Dog Rescue and named her Kali," tells Laura. "After having her for just one month she stopped eating and when we took her to the vet, we found out that due to the inbreeding in the puppy farm she was rescued from, her kidneys didn't form properly. The vet tried everything he could but there was no fixing that could be done and we had to put her to sleep at just three months old," she continues. "It was so awful but out of that awful came the push to work on something, to keep the mind busy, and the drive to just go for it because life is short." Fast forward a few months, add in a few dozen late nights and an abundance of hard work and finally, Enda and Laura had made their dream a reality and opened up their very own café in January. As for what to call their coffee shop, there was only one obvious choice: Kali Coffee, after their late puppy. 

It goes without saying that the past year has been brutal for many small-business owners. Retail shops, gyms, bars and restaurants closed for months, while cafés struggled to subsist on takeout. But even as many business owners closed their doors for good, Kali Coffee rose to the challenge. "Opening up a café in the middle of a pandemic has been nerve-wracking," explains Laura. "There is the constant worry about your health and the health of your customers. We were worried about the response people would have to us opening during it all, would they think it was reckless? Would they think we don't care about the restrictions and safety because we're opening now?" Two questions that are made irrelevant when you hear about the sacrifices the couple have made to open and run their café safely. "At home, we're isolated to the one room that has an ensuite and access to the outside," tells Laura. "We have a two hob hot plate and a mini-fridge so we don't have to leave the room. It's hard but it has to be done, we don't want to get sick and we don't want to be a place that's causing a spread."

Since opening back in January, Kali Coffee has proven to be so much more than just another coffee shop on the Salthill stand. "We had sleepless nights leading up to opening because we knew how well established the other cafes were in Salthill and maybe the locals wouldn't like another one?," recalls Laura. "But the welcome and support we've received is out of this world. Nearly every customer that's come in has called us either mad or brave – some people even told us they've been dying for a coffee shop like our to open up! Business has gone way beyond our expectations, the relief we felt after the first day even, was a weight off our shoulders." 

But what sets Kali Coffee apart from the rest? Well, there's three things. First, Kali Coffee is a relaxed coffee shop. Although brewing speciality coffee, there's no coffee snobbery here. Whether you know all there is to know about coffee or don't know what a flat white is, Enda and Laura have created a chill atmosphere where you won't feel intimidated. Next, is their ethos. Sustainability is at the forefront of everything Enda and Laura do. "Personally, we both try our best to help fight climate change by eating veggie and not supporting fast fashion," says Laura. "We wanted to bring our values into the business too. Sustainability is important because climate change is real and happening and we all need to make changes in our lifestyle to help combat it." At Kali Coffee, the sustainable efforts are endless. "Our cups and lids are compostable, we give discounts for customers using reusable cups and we don't charge extra for oat milk to help encourage more to consider the alternative," mentions Laura. Even the coffee they brew is sustainable and local to the area too. "Our coffee beans are from Calendar Coffee who are based just up the road from us. Their coffee comes in reusable buckets that we return to the roastery every week," explains Laura. "We pay a higher price for our coffee which ensures the farmers get paid adequately for the work they've done. In coffee right now, the most important aspect of sustainability is the farmer and the farming process. Calendar Coffee donates 50c from every kilo of their Teamwork Espresso bought to World Coffee Research which strives to find more sustainable farming practices." Further adding to their individuality as a café, Kali Coffee is also a dog-friendly establishment. "As we have a new puppy ourselves, we knew from the start we wanted to be dog friendly and it's been going down a storm!" tells Laura. "People love that they can bring their dogs in with them when they're out walking. We hope that our personalities and the relaxed vibe Kali Coffee offers means it will become the local neighbourhood coffee spot."

And with news of finally being able to open their doors to the public for the first time, Kali Coffee has some big plans in store. "Once it's safe to do so and restrictions allow, our main goal is to have people simply sit in and drink their coffee...but we also have big plans to hold coffee workshops in latte art, brewing methods, and tastings. We also want to hold social nights like book clubs, art exhibits, and educational talks on coffee, culture, sustainability, society, and lots more." 

So whether you're local to the area of planning a staycation to Galway over the summer months, it's only fitting that you add a trip Kali Coffee to your foodie bucketlist. 

READ MORE: New cookbook launched to raise much-needed funds for Pieta House