2012 was a year of refinement for Salt Spring Coffee. We continued to push the envelope on pioneering sustainable business practices, we deepened our relationships with the farmers who grow our coffee, gave back in many ways to the community, and launched new packaging. We had a ton of fun along the way connecting with our customers through great tasting coffee, shared our story at various events and rolled out some memorable campaigns.
As a Certified B Corporation – a designation that distinguishes firms committed to improving more than their bottom line – we were recognized in B Lab’s first ‘Best for the World’ 2012 list for the effectiveness of our sustainability programs and our commitment to the environment. We were one of only five Canadian companies to earn this coveted title. We were also a founding partner of LOCO BC’s Zero Hero Waste Project initiated last fall. Uprising Breads Bakery, University Golf Club, Momento Coffee House, ThirstFirst Coffee Solutions and Edible Canada At The Market all are participating in this pilot program with a goal to reduce waste (and associated greenhouse gas emissions) from the average business rate of 56% to less than 25%. The funds for this pilot project came from a “green fee” that we charged at our coffee houses for those who didn’t bring their own cups – a great way to offset the use of a paper cup, and remind people to bring their own! Finally, we were super excited to become a member of 1% for the Planet in March of 2012, a global movement of companies donating at least one per cent of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide.
In January we sponsored Vertality2, an annual event presented by the Board of Change that’s all about connecting Vancouver’s change-makers in business in a fun and casual environment – a great start to the year. In May Salt Spring Coffee celebrated its Sweet Sixteen with the help of Cartems Donuterie – they created some delicious special edition espresso donuts using Metta Espresso. We attended EPIC, Vancouver’s Sustainable Living Expo along with many of our friends in the sustainable business community and earlier in the month, co-founder Mickey McLeod spoke at the Social Venture Institute (SVI) Hollyhock’s first ever Vancouver engagement and focused on the challenges that come with building a successful, socially-conscious enterprise. Just a few months after attending Barista Nation in Portland, OR, we were thrilled to welcome the coffee community to our Viking Roasting Facility to host the second Barista Nation held in Canada. Barista Nation is a forum for coffee professionals with hands-on seminars, workshops, lectures and networking. The theme for the event was ‘seasonality’ and the day finished with a salmon BBQ with the McLeod brothers, Ross and Mickey, on the grill. We also brought Salt Spring Coffee to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival (for the 11th year in a row), Seek the Peak on Grouse Mountain and Feast of Fields where we put a twist on our Byron’s Maracaturra Washed by serving it cold toddy-style and pairing it with a cherry puree. We attended many great events such as Power Plant and LOCO monthly business mixers all making 2012 a very busy and rewarding year of networking and relationship building.
Throughout 2012 we had many opportunities to give back to the community. In February we donated $2,200 worth of coffee to the HomeGround Festival in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. We have also been a long-time supporter (10 years!) of the Hope in Shadows project and we continue to show our support through donations and volunteering at their annual Camera Handout awards ceremony & exhibition. Also, as a supporter of Pivot Legal Society we made our yearly silent auction donation for their annual fundraiser, Passion for Justice. Since we moved to Richmond we’ve made some great new friends at the Sharing Farm Society in Richmond – their mission is to provide farm produce to people in the community that don’t have access to fresh food. They use our leftover burlap sacks in the garden and as table cloths as well as our green bean chaff in their compost which gets distributed throughout their fields. We were super active throughout December as well, donating 500 bags of coffee to the Cause We Care Foundation’s annual Christmas Hamper Drive for the second year in a row and we bought a brick to aid in the building of the YWCA Cause We Care House. Salt Spring Coffee staff also donated $200 in cash and approximately $300 worth of food donations to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
Thanks to the awesome creative team at Exhibit A: Design Group, our packaging, advertising, and online spaces were completely re-designed in 2012 and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re proud of this update as it reflects our constant evolution forward, yet the subtleties in the design reflect our commitment to the communities where our coffee is grown and the company’s roots on Salt Spring Island. We also continued the #needalift campaign and brightened some unsuspecting people’s days with Salt Spring Coffee giveaways. We’re excited to carry all of this momentum forward in 2013.
Of course a year wouldn’t be complete without trips to coffee growing origin to co-ops and farms where Salt Spring Coffee is grown. In February we visited Peru to speak directly with farmers and co-operative managers about setting up fair and accurate prices for their beans – the cornerstone of improving coffee growing operations and ultimately the communities that depend on the coffee trade. Accompanied by our ThirstFirst office coffee partners we took a trip to Nicaragua. And later in the year our co-founder Mickey visited Colombia to attend Let’s Talk Coffee 2012, and then with Stam Papadopoulos traveled back to Peru to visit with a handful of passionate direct trade partners. In 2012 we also went on our first sourcing trip to Honduras. While farmers in Honduras are still improving the quality of their green beans, we think this is a very promising coffee market to watch and through the connections we made with farmers and co-ops in the Copan region we hope to discover a beautiful, untapped seasonal coffee in the near future.
Salt Spring Coffee’s 16th year was a truly memorable one and we’re excited to carry such positive momentum forward in 2013. A special shout out to Amy Robinson, the Executive Director of LOCO for her work with us on our sustainability programs and her vision and commitment to the local economy. A huge thank you as well to all of our community partners and customers for supporting us in 2012. We look forward to another year of doing what we love: roasting to inspire change.
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