Creating a Community with Coffee

Lena discovered Lagos as a resting place to heal herself. Having benefited from the beautiful surroundings, she decided in turn to heal Lagos, creating a zero-waste concept that will keep the streets clean and give back to the community that helped her.

After a few years in Ireland and a short visit back to their origins in Germany, Marcus and Lena took some time off on a sabbatical year to reconnect with each other, discover new places, and mostly heal.

Their journey took them to Lagos in January 2020, where they found more than just a resting place to stay and recover from their journey as a family. Lena explains, “We also made it a priority for recovery from a long-term medical condition I’ve been suffering from for years. We’ve always been conscious of our environment, especially during the pandemic. But it wasn’t just the pandemic that made us rethink our consumption – it’s also a deep yearning to bring some changes in the hospitality industry. And so, our project of passion was born.”

The couple had the idea to create a zero-waste coffee shop serving coffee in edible vegan cups so their customers could enjoy coffee while eating away the cups themselves! “We knew there had to be a better way than simply throwing everything away after it was used. But we couldn’t just stop there – we wanted to be able to bring awareness and sustainability into their everyday lives.”

Coffee shops hand out an estimated 250 billion paper cups every year, which go straight to landfills. Even the cups that say they’re recyclable on the packaging are misleading because the infrastructure to recycle them is costly and doesn’t exist in many places. “When we started our first coffee truck, we wanted to take sustainability to another level but contribute 0% waste to the streets of beautiful Lagos,” says Lena.

After an extended time of trial and error, during which they worked with local businesses and communities, the idea became a reality and MarLe was born. They are now happy to be serving not only a good product but also making sure there is no waste from their coffee, delicious cakes and home-made German breakfasts and lunches!

Lena tells me, “At MarLe cafe, we source our coffee and grains from small local farmers. Everything we serve is not only sustainable and biologically certified – it also comes from small producers who we support because we believe small lights can become a firework. By supporting local farmers and producers, we know that the money goes directly to them – helping to build better infrastructure and education, providing real support for their businesses.”

The couple work hard to create a place where people from all walks of life can come together to share their values – fairness, sustainability, and giving back to their communities. “We believe in quality over quantity. It’s better to drink a cuppa knowing the source and living background of farming as much as knowing the source of your meat, vegetables, fruits, or other necessities that we are already concerned about.”

MarLe has so far ‘bean’ a great hit with customers and with such a great concept and a worthy cause, let’s hope this coffee shop will ‘mocha’ Lena and Marcus happy and sustainable!

Rua Prof Luís de Azevedo 25, 8600-617 Lagos

Facebook: Marlecafelagos


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