This is the first in a series of posts I'll be writing about what sustainability means in the context of coffee, the environment, and our business. We've come a long way in 5 years and it's nice to know that many people in our community think of us as a sustainable roaster, but often I find our efforts, reasons, and decisions are untold.
Indeed, we now live in a world where the green agenda is at the forefront of our minds and (sometimes) dangerously at the forefront of many marketing strategies. Empty promises and hollow words can easily be confused with those that are genuine, whilst some of the 'solutions' create new problems. Often, it's not as easy as it seems.
So, the aim of this series is to provide some clarity on matters that we think are important and all our customers should know about. Things that affect our business and that we've spent a considerable amount of time researching & discussing. There are many aspects and they all feed into a giant, evolving continuum of Yallah sustainability.
Over the course of 2020, we'll be diving knee-deep into the subcategories outlined below. Strap in folks, we're about to get into it.
Areas of Focus
Specialty Coffee // what is it and whos benefiting? what does it mean to us?
Growing // farming techniques, processing, regenerative agriculture, environment, disease and areas of concern for the future
Financial // Fiscal stability, terminology, commodity market, debt management
Emissions // Growing, shipping, roasting. The industry as a whole.
Roasting // Process, innovation, issues, and responsibilities
Packaging // Choices, life cycle, innovation, issues, and responsibilities.
Waste // Landfill diversion, organic compounds, and circular economy
Responsibility // Goals and targets
Intro to us
To get us going, we'll start with us. We roast and sell really tasty coffee. That's essentially the basis of what we do and why every person in this business got into it. Coffee is an extraordinarily interesting product that captures our interest on many levels; taste, process, agriculture, economics, environmental to name a few. Most of our business is wholesale, so we provide coffee but we also provide barista training, cafe consultancy, equipment, and servicing. The retail side of the business (through our website and cafe) is also really important to us and gives more freedom to buy a variety of coffees and showcase products we think are great.
You could say, our focus is considering all of the points above, making informed decisions about how we buy and sell coffee, based on what you believe from the people you meet and books you read. Each action, each direction has the ability to make a meaningful contribution towards becoming a 'better business'. Our vision of being a progressive and sustainable company combines all of the above, along with involvement with our local community and the wider industry.
So far, I'm extremely proud to have got to where we are. Yallah started with 1 person, a rusty 3kg roaster from the 1950s and no money. Now, we're a team of 6 roasting 2 tonnes a month. We unofficially carbon offset our emissions, direct trade around 50% of our coffee, train young people with additional learning needs and help connect them with potential employers and work placements, plus we run a company set up to benefit our employees (this year we're running our first profit share with staff). 2020 also sees us working towards converting our new roaster to electricity that's generated on the farm. It's all pretty exciting stuff.
So that's where we're at in a nutshell. Next post we'll be delving a little deeper. What does specialty actually mean?
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a useful framework that I'll be referencing throughout these blogs.