Jenny Cooper is the owner of zero-waste coffee shop, IXV Coffee, in Brooklyn. After 17 years of working as a head designer at J.Crew and the design talent behind bringing crewcuts into the world, Jenny left the world of fashion and opened her shop. Based out of the garage in her Boerum Hill home, IXV is a gem of a find, serving up way more than coffee. Come here for clothing and objects infused with Jenny’s iconic design sensibility, pastries and snacks (including toaster made gluten-free muffins that feel like a story unto themselves), and coffee served in actual reusable mugs (even your own, if you bring it!).
All this, and a motto of living a "life less trashy," makes IXV a spot to visit again and again.
How did you go from fashion to coffee?
Clothing and food are both essentials. They intersect, I think. When I used to travel for work, the only time I really got a break was when I was having a cup of coffee. There were these little moments to pause. I loved that. Spending a year traveling around tasting coffee was pretty great too.
What are some of the things you're doing in your shop from an environmental perspective?
Every choice I make for this shop considers the end of life of the item and any waste left over - whether it lives forever or not. As a designer, when you understand materiality, plastics vs. organics, you think about these things. I found there are three items I struggle with: 1) Bulk coffee bags - Ours come lined with foil. I can’t change that now. But I’m looking for a circular solution. 2) Single-use cups - Almost 50% of our business is reusable and we’re starting a borrowing program. I can’t tell people we don’t have a single-use option or I’m not sure I would survive. But we are proud of the 50% reusable cups!, and 3) Tetra Paks - Our milk and almond milk come in glass bottles. I haven’t figured out oat milk. Maybe stainless steel could work.
Zero-waste is an aspirational term. I don’t think anything is actually zero-waste in our world. But it’s a process of shedding single-use things and looking for circular solutions.
"Every choice I make for this shop considers the end of life of the item and any waste left over - whether it lives forever or not."
Why do you think more coffee shops aren't doing what you're doing (i.e offering reusable cup programs?)
I don’t know. Cost. Effort. But it’s really not that hard and so gratifying! Nobody really wants to be doing the wrong thing, they just need a little help! I’m working with a reusable cup rental program founded in Portland, Oregon that has 17 cafes participating, so the movement is growing.
What would it take to get them there?
I think everyone just has to decide to do it. We didn't grow up with throw-away cups. Once you start seeing more people bringing cups, it becomes normal and it catches on. And for us, you don’t have to pay for the cup when you bring your own. So you end up with a single-use surcharge that underlines the real cost.
Did you set out to make an impact or what was your motivation in starting this business?
I don't really think about measuring my impact. Well, I can count how many reusable cups we use, which is cool, but I have no illusions about me making a wild, crazy, mad difference in the world. But, I wanted to have coffee and you might as well do it without a side of trash.
If I can do something, I figure I might as well try.
'I have no illusions about me making a wild, crazy, mad difference in the world. But, I wanted to have coffee and you might as well do it without a side of trash."
You're taking "work from home" to a whole new level. How did you decide to open a shop in your home?
It was sort of a running joke after a hard day at the office, that I would just throw an espresso machine in my garage. Now I have a shop where I chat with people all day. Funny.
How did you decide to source your coffee beans?
I chose to work with a brand that centers sustainability and the education side of things - Counter Culture. And their coffee won my NYC coffee tasting challenge. At first they thought I was insane when I told them what I wanted to do, but they said come back six months from now and if you’re still serious, we’ll help. They have. They knew I wanted to use reclaimed machines, so they helped me source and recondition. They told me when not to buy old equipment - like for grinders. It’s been a great partnership - and I love their coffee.
What's caught you by surprise on this journey?
I know everyone talks about community, but it’s real. There are regulars that come here every morning. They come and hang out and chat and everyone knows each other. I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it’s nice.
Your shop goals are to be "less trashy with coffee and clothing." How else would you like to see the world become less trashy?
Oh, don’t get me started.
You're obviously a coffee bean fan, do you eat our kind of beans? Edible beans?
Totally. I love beans. But I’m not really a hummus or dip person. I like savory - chickpeas with tomatoes and chilies, that kind of thing. But, for sure, beans are awesome.
Thank you, Jenny!
Oh, and if you make it to IXV, try THE JENNI - the shop’s tongue-in-cheek nod to THE CHARLI from Dunkin Donuts - a drink made famous by TikTok star Charli D’Amelio. But according to Jenny, “This one actually tastes amazing.”
In case you’re wondering where the name IXV comes from. It’s a reference to Jenny’s grandfather. A man “who personified an enduring and whimsical style. He had little clothing but what he had were well-made and dapper. I still wear his Nantucket red pants and his tailor made dinner jacket, items that were crafted by hand and beautiful enough to withstand time and trend. He had two duck topiaries in front of the front door to his house, whose bills met at your waist, forcing you to the side entrance with gentle humor. IXV coffee is a nod to things that get better with age and to the time we take to create them and enjoy them. It’s no waste just because we all need to get there.”
"A nod to things that get better with age and to the time we take to create them and enjoy them"