Monkey Grounds Coffee

Beyond the Aroma: Sipping towards Sustainability

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Hernan Ernani Luis

Hernan Ernani Luis


De La Salle University

De La Salle University


Pia Manalastas

Pia Manalastas

Global Goals

2. Zero Hunger 5. Gender Equality 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

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Monkey Grounds Coffee is a trailblazing eatery that emphasizes sustainable dining, offering an extensive menu of vegetarian and vegan options while actively supporting local farmers through initiatives like contract farming. Sourcing 80% of their plant-based products locally, they not only boost the local economy but also promote sustainable agricultural practices. This innovative approach addresses several UN Sustainable Development Goals, including Zero Hunger, Responsible Consumption and Production, Gender Equality, and Decent Work and Economic Growth.


Monkey Grounds Coffee, situated in the heart of Iloilo City, is not just any ordinary coffee haven; it embodies sustainability and inclusivity. Recognizing the pressing challenges of the 21st century, Monkey Grounds chose to innovate by committing to several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), weaving them intrinsically into their business model.

Their culinary approach is notably centered around SDG 2: Zero Hunger. They ensure accessibility to a broad array of vegetarian and vegan dishes while simultaneously addressing the economic concerns of inflation by balancing affordability with value. Partnering with local farmers through "contract farming," Monkey Grounds acquires fresh, seasonal ingredients, enhancing food security and contributing to SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Approximately 80% of their offerings are locally produced, which benefits the environment by reducing transportation emissions and bolsters the local economy. Furthermore, they actively support urban farming, a burgeoning movement transforming urban spaces into food production zones. Additionally, Monkey Grounds is breaking the mold in waste management. They're on a trajectory towards eliminating plastic use, advocating for sustainable packaging, even if it comes at a slightly higher cost. They also employ comprehensive inventory management to reduce food waste, ensuring that freshness and quality are paramount.

In addressing SDG 5: Gender Equality, Monkey Grounds proudly champions a diverse workforce, maintaining a gender-neutral hiring approach and zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment. They not only create an inclusive workspace but also emphasize women's representation at every operational level. This drive towards an egalitarian workspace is not just about numbers; it's about recognizing and valuing the diverse insights women bring to the table.

Complementing these efforts is their focus on SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. Monkey Grounds is a testament to the fact that businesses can be both economically viable and ethically sound. They provide fair wages, ensuring that employees are compensated justly for their work, fostering a sense of loyalty and trust. Through prioritizing the well-being of their staff, promoting lifelong learning, and offering opportunities for growth and advancement, they advocate for a model where businesses don't just thrive economically but also uplift the communities they operate within. All these steps, taken collectively, place Monkey Grounds Coffee at the forefront of businesses that are profitable and purpose-driven.

Beyond the Aroma: Sipping towards Sustainability

Interview Zoom Screenshot: "A virtual exchange of insights: The founders of Monkey Grounds Coffee sharing their sustainable journey over Zoom." Coffee Item Picture: "More than just a brew: Monkey Grounds' signature coffee, ethically sourced and crafted with passion." Vegan Menu Item: "Flavor meets sustainability: A tantalizing vegan delicacy that's as good for the palate as it is for the planet." Business Logo: "The emblem of change: Monkey Grounds Coffee's logo, symbolizing a fusion of taste and sustainability."


At the helm of Monkey Grounds Coffee's sustainable vision are three dynamic leaders: Glaiza, Goldine, and Juan. Inspired by their personal journeys and commitments to sustainable living, they sought to bring an innovative approach to the business landscape, culminating in the creation of Monkey Grounds.

Glaiza and Goldine, being vegetarians themselves, found their inspiration in their lifestyles. Glaiza commented, "Through our personal journey towards health and sustainability, we realized that vegetarian food options were either scarce or were priced prohibitively. We wanted to bridge that gap, ensuring that more people could access affordable, delicious, and nutritious plant-based meals." This drove them to integrate SDG 2: Zero Hunger, into their business model, with a special focus on affordable vegetarian and vegan options.

Moreover, Glaiza and Goldine have always been fiercely dedicated to creating a better world, both environmentally and ethically. Their vegetarian lifestyle was more than just a dietary choice; it was a statement of their principles and unwavering commitment to sustainable living. It is no surprise that their personal beliefs have found a profound reflection in the ethos of Monkey Grounds. "For us, being vegetarian wasn't about following a trend. It was about understanding the larger impact of our choices on the planet," Glaiza once remarked during the interview. "When we founded Monkey Grounds, we wanted to extend that philosophy. We wanted to make sustainable, ethical choices more accessible for everyone."

Juan, another pillar of the Monkey Grounds leadership, brought a unique perspective from his corporate background. His experiences in the fast-paced world of corporate businesses made him realize the often-overlooked environmental and social implications of such industries. "In the corporate world, I witnessed firsthand the gaps in sustainable practices," Juan reflected. "When I joined Glaiza and Goldine, I was inspired by their vision and knew that together, we could merge profitability with responsibility."

The trio's synergy was palpable. Inspired by their individual journeys and combined visions, they transformed Monkey Grounds Coffee into a beacon for sustainable practices. The founders' inspiration, rooted in their own experiences and insights, drives Monkey Grounds Coffee to pioneer a fresh approach to food service that places sustainability and inclusivity at its core. Glaiza aptly said, "When you brew passion with purpose, you get a taste of real change." Their combined efforts were a testament to the idea that businesses could and should contribute positively to the world.

Overall impact

The innovation introduced by Monkey Grounds Coffee has been nothing short of transformative, both locally and potentially on a larger scale. Initially, their efforts began by addressing the immediate needs of their local community. The coffee shop started to become one of the focal points for discussions on sustainability and responsible consumption by providing patrons with a place to consume ethically sourced, vegetarian-friendly meals. As Glaiza remarked during our interview, “We envisioned Monkey Grounds not just as a coffee shop but as a hub for dialogue about sustainable living.” Furthermore, their emphasis on educating customers about the origins of their food and beverages led to increased awareness about the broader impact of individual choices on global issues. Patrons were drawn in not just by the allure of ethically sourced meals but also by the deeper narrative behind them. "Every dish, every cup of coffee has a story,” Juan said, emphasizing their determination to educate customers on the origins of their offerings.

Short-term effects were readily visible. The coffee shop's clientele grew, drawing in diverse individuals, from eco-conscious youth to seasoned professionals keen on making ethical choices. Patrons of the coffee shop not only enjoy the food and beverages and gain awareness about the environmental benefits of plant-based diets. EJ, a regular patron shared, “It's not just about enjoying a meal here; it's about becoming part of a movement.” The atmosphere of the cafe began to resonate with values of awareness, particularly about the many advantages of a plant-centric diet.

In the long run, Monkey Grounds' innovative model demonstrated that businesses could thrive without compromising sustainability or ethics. Their impact is not just confined to their immediate community. As word spread and their reputation grew, they hoped to set a benchmark for other establishments. "We believe that every business, no matter its size, has the power to drive change," a sentiment echoed throughout our talk. Their journey is an inspiration and a tangible blueprint for aligning profitability with responsibility, paving the way for a future where the environment and ethics are at the heart of business decisions.

Business benefit

Monkey Grounds Coffee's adoption of sustainable and ethical practices has brought many benefits to the business. The company has ensured a consistent and high-quality supply of ingredients by sourcing its raw materials from local farmers, leading to a unique and fresh taste that sets it apart from competitors. As Juan said, "Our direct partnerships with farmers let us have a hand in the process. We ensure that our ingredients are grown under ideal conditions, offering our customers a taste experience that's distinctive and ethically grounded." The direct relationship with farmers means the business can be more involved in production, ensuring that their ingredients are grown under the best conditions. This has resonated with consumers who are increasingly conscious about their food's origin and willing to pay a premium for ethically sourced products.

The decision to incorporate eco-friendly materials in the café interiors and to serve only vegetarian and vegan options has boosted their green credentials and positioned the brand as an innovator and potential leader in sustainability. Goldine shared, "We are not just a café but a testament to sustainable living. Our space reflects this commitment, and our menu reinforces it." The unique aesthetic appeal of their interiors and the health and environmental benefits of their food offerings have drawn a dedicated customer base. Their loyal clientele appreciates the brand's commitment to the environment and ethical sourcing, leading to higher customer retention and word-of-mouth recommendations. As a result of these efforts, the café has earned the impressive ranking of #17 among Iloilo City coffeehouses by Restaurant Guru while also receiving a remarkable 4.5 rating from Trip Advisor.

The innovation extends its benefits to Monkey Grounds' workforce as well. Recognizing the company's commitment to the planet and the local community, employees often report a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction in their roles. This heightened morale has reduced staff turnover, fostering an environment where employees grow alongside the business. Moreover, working in a company that aligns with their personal values makes them proud ambassadors of the brand, ensuring that every customer interaction is genuine and passionate, further enhancing the coffee shop's reputation and appeal.

Social and environmental benefit

Through its innovative approach, Monkey Grounds Coffee serves as a beacon for responsible and sustainable business practices that benefit society and the environment. By prioritizing locally sourced ingredients, the cafe not only supports regional farmers and bolsters the local economy but also reduces the environmental toll linked to the long-distance transportation of goods. This decision ensures fresher produce for their customers but also aids in reducing carbon emissions, thus contributing to cleaner air.

The introduction of vegetarian and vegan options aligns with global efforts to reduce meat consumption, which can help alleviate some environmental pressures associated with livestock farming, such as deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and water consumption. Through offering these plant-based choices, Monkey Grounds promotes sustainable dietary habits, indirectly educating its clientele about the environmental implications of their food choices.

In addition, by promoting and mainstreaming sustainable and vegetarian dining, Monkey Grounds plays a significant role in societal transformation. They actively challenge traditional dining norms and influence consumer behavior towards more eco-conscious choices, contributing to a broader shift in societal attitudes about the environment and our responsibility. Juan proudly shared, “Each day, we have conversations with our patrons, many of whom are curious about our choices. We see it as an opportunity to educate, to inspire, and to challenge norms.” Their commitment to sustainability also educates customers about making ethical choices, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps, and substantially contributing to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Glaiza Wong-Nava, Founder and Managing Director

Juan Gabriel Nava, Founder and Research and Development Director

Goldine Wong, Founder and Director of Finance

Photo of interviewee

Business information

Monkey Grounds Coffee

Monkey Grounds Coffee

Iloilo City, Province of Iloilo, PH
Year Founded: 2016
Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Monkey Grounds Coffee is a contemporary café in the heart of Iloilo City that offers a diverse range of vegetarian and vegan dishes alongside expertly crafted coffee and tea beverages. Emphasizing the use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the café actively supports local farmers through sustainable agricultural practices. Besides its delightful menu, Monkey Grounds Coffee Shop boasts a unique ambiance with modern interiors, making it a favorite destination for early risers and night owls. Their commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle, gender equality, and sustainability, combined with their dedication to the community, sets them apart in the bustling food and beverage industry.