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Ocean Friendly Restaurants Spotlight: Banana Dang Coffee

The Surfrider Foundation's San Diego Chapter is proud to introduce T2 and Mario, owners of Banana Dang Coffee, located in Oceanside, California. You can’t miss them, just look for the yellow building with their banana logo on the front. 

Banana DangOwners, Mario and T2 with Banana Dang Coffee in Oceanside, CA

Mario grew up spending his free time in and around the ocean.  As a longtime surfer, he gained an appreciation and respect for the ocean and was determined to help protect it. We asked Mario about Banana Dang’s origin story. “From the reefs of Rincon, Puerto Rico to the sandy beaches of Oceanside, California—Banana Dang was born out of pure necessity. Coffee is our first love. Bananas are the world's most perfect fruit. Being aware that these two core ingredients grow sustainably together is instilled deep in our everyday operations. Having spent the bulk of our lives in love with coffee and caring for our beaches, we had an epiphany—what if we created a space that embraced our passions: coffee, bananas, and the environment? In 2007, we opened our first coffee bar in the surfing mecca of Rincon, Puerto Rico and in 2015, we relocated to Oceanside.”


Much of what Mario and T2 learned about sustainability and their minimalist philosophy came from  running a coffee bar in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico struggles with water, energy and waste infrastructure. Mario and T2 would often experience power and water outages, and recycling was nearly non-existent. To this day, Mario and T2  have the “do we really need it? ” mindset. Mario reflects that when they first moved to the US and opened Banana Dang, they immediately thought about how they could save water and power and reduce their waste incase of outages or no trash pickup like they experienced in Puerto Rico. They installed low flow faucets and toilets and washing methods that required less water. They set-up organic waste composting efforts and recycled whenever possible. Most importantly, they asked themselves, “do we really need it?”

haystrawThe Hay Straws that Banana Dang uses. Photo taken by Vicki Conlon.

Banana Dang prioritizes sustainability in many other ways.  Instead of plastic or compostable straws, they use “HAY Straws” made from natural plant stems and are 100% biodegradable, which means they won’t linger in landfills, polluting our land or oceans. By using the Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurants discount and having a strict “Only Upon Request'' policy, they have reduced the cost of a more sustainable product.  Here are more examples of Banana Dang’s sustainability efforts:

  • Biodegradable wooden coffee plugs
  • Do not put sleeves on their to-go coffee cups
  • Wrap their to-go avocado toast in aluminum foil 

Banana Dang encourages their customers to bring their own containers for a discount to help reduce waste. Only about 20% of customers bring their container, but Mario hopes this number will increase with a bit of environmental awareness and education.


One of Banana Dang’s key principles is to “be a good neighbor” and they have certainly lived by it. Banana Dang has a close relationship with the Oceanside community and often opens up their space to community and school group events, as well as giving donations to schools and non-profit organizations. T2 is hoping to hold some beach clean ups for the community as well.


Banana Dang Menu 

Banana Dang ToastBanana Dang's coffee and toast menu from their website.

Our final question for Mario was “Why Bananas? “We think bananas are the world’s most perfect fruit. They have incredible calming powers, are natural energy boosters and taste delicious. We also love the fact that bananas come in their own individually-wrapped packages and boast abundant health benefits.”

BeachMugPhoto credit: Neens

Is your local restaurant Ocean Friendly?  If not, encourage them to sign up and join the movement to end single-use plastics!

Want to help Surfrider stop plastic pollution at the source? Consider donating today!