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We reached our five-year goal in only two years and achieved carbon neutrality at the end of 2011.
After a fascinating and surprising first foray into carbon-footprint measurement at the end of 2009 – a project to track the carbon footprint of Finca Mauritania's coffee from seed to cup – we decided to commit wholeheartedly to carbon neutrality for the company. We set a target date of 2015 because, to tell the truth, we weren't entirely sure what we were signing ourselves up to do.
 
Every once in a blue moon, a project surprises you by progressing more quickly than anticipated and this Counter Culture's carbon neutrality is a great example of that variety of rare surprise: I'm thrilled to announce that it we reached our five-year goal in only two years and achieved carbon neutrality at the end of 2011 by offsetting our 576-tonne greenhouse gas footprint through tree-planting and fuel-efficient stove construction in Central America.
 
For more about our road to carbon neutrality, please see my post in our Sustainability section.
 
Saludos,
Kim Elena
 
POSTED IN: sustainability
We reached our five-year goal in only two years and achieved carbon neutrality at the end of 2011.
After a fascinating and surprising first foray into carbon-footprint measurement at the end of 2009 – a project to track the carbon footprint of Finca Mauritania's coffee from seed to cup – Counter Culture decided to commit wholeheartedly to carbon neutrality for the company. We set a target date of 2015 because, to tell the truth, we weren't entirely sure what we were signing ourselves up to do.
 
Every once in a blue moon, a project surprises you by progressing more quickly than anticipated and this Counter Culture's carbon neutrality is a great example of that variety of rare surprise: I'm thrilled to announce that it we reached our five-year goal in only two years and achieved carbon neutrality at the end of 2011 by offsetting our 576-tonne greenhouse gas footprint through tree-planting and fuel-efficient stove construction in Central America.
 
Let's take a step back to the measurement, though, shall we? We arrived at that 576-tonnes-of-greenhouse-gas figure with the help of Vancouver-based Climate Smart, a foot printing organization that takes a unique approach to auditing by empowering businesses to measure themselves. I spent the first half of 2010 working closely with Climate Smart and collecting data from different areas of our business to understand the whole picture of our emissions, from the large impact of long-distance employee commutes around our NC headquarters to the even larger impact of our international and domestic air travel. Needless to say, we have many opportunities for improvement!
 
Aida Batlle picking coffee cherries in El Salvador.
Having established a baseline, we turned our attention to potential areas of reduction, which is daunting in any circumstances and particularly challenging during a period of growth. As we neared the end of 2011, we realized that we hadn't made progress in energy reduction anywhere (with the notable exception of our Atlanta Training Center, where Ben Helfen successfully halved our office's energy bills over the prior year by powering down machines, turning off lights when they weren't in use, and actively managing the thermostat!).
 
We started reaching out to providers of offsets and reconnected with Trees, Water and People (TWP), which manages offset projects ranging from tree-planting and stove construction in Central America and Haiti to wind power in the American west. TWP was incredibly generous with their time and expertise when I was working on Finca Mauritania's carbon footprint. They distinguished themselves from other offset providers by offering to implement a project building fuel-efficient stoves with a cooperative that Counter Culture works with in Marcala, Honduras. The COMSA cooperative is excited by the project, and I am practically giddy to think that we can integrate coffee-buying and carbon-offset-buying.
 
The next few months will see us collecting greenhouse gas data for the 2011 calendar year and reporting it in our annual Sustainability Scorecard, as well as continuing to deepen our relationship with TWP. I'm heading to Marcala in February, and I can't wait to see how the project is going and learn about stove-building from the experts.
 
Saludos,
Kim Elena
POSTED IN: sustainability
Counter Culture Coffee, Peregrine Espresso, and Finca Mauritania collaborated on a groundbreaking pilot project to fight global climate change and protect the soil, water, and biodiversity of the Santa Ana, El Salvador-based coffee farm Finca Mauritania.
Almost two years have passed since Counter Culture Coffee undertook to measure the seed-to-cup carbon footprint of one pound of coffee from Finca Mauritania in Santa Ana, El Salvador. For that project, I relied heavily on our exceptionally responsive and communicative partners along the supply chain – from farm owner Aida Batlle to the exporter, the shipping company, the warehouse, the trucking company, and even the coffee shop customer – to supply energy-use data, which I then crunched using free resources like Carbonfund.org.
 
When we arrived at a figure of approximately 11 lbs. CO2 equivalent – which includes the energy used to prepare coffee at Peregrine Espresso in Washington, DC – per pound of Finca Mauritania coffee, Counter Culture and Peregrine committed to plant trees in El Salvador that would capture the equivalent of the CO2 emissions that we had collectively generated in the growing, transporting, roasting, and brewing of the coffee.
 
One of the benefits of our self-directed supply-chain audit was that it familiarized us with the vocabulary, methodologies, and definitions of carbon footprints and greenhouse gas inventories. We talked to organizations that made it sound easy to do a quick audit and purchase offsets, but, having developed a pretty deep understanding of carbon and coffee, we recognized that taking our time to measure our footprint, strategize about reductions, and to find meaningful offset projects was the approach that best suited our dedication to real environmental sustainability. Our internal Sustainability Committee decided that, by 2015, the company would be carbon neutral and we have just achieved the first step toward that goal by completing a greenhouse gas inventory for the year 2010.
 
One of the benefits of our self-directed supply-chain audit was that it familiarized us with the vocabulary, methodologies, and definitions of carbon footprints and greenhouse gas inventories.
Working with Climate Smart, a Vancouver, BC-based auditing firm, we collected data on many aspects of our business, including the gas we burn roasting, electricity powering our espresso machines, fuel we use to commute, and the weight of paper we recycle (or don’t!) and determined that we produced 576 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) last year, or 1.2 lbs. of CO2e per pound of coffee we roast.
 
The roasting process accounts for a fair portion of our total footprint and our employee commuting does, as well, but our largest impact comes from air travel (and, wouldn’t you know, I’m writing this from an airplane as I make my way to visit our partner co-op in Colombia). While our business model may make it hard to reduce our air travel, the good news is that we have lots of room for improvement in other areas of our operations – from electricity consumption to waste generated – and we are ready to work to reduce our footprint per pound of coffee for 2011 and beyond!
 
Stay tuned to the Sustainability section of our website for updates on our progress and check out Climate Smart for great information about carbon and resources for businesses and individuals.
 
Saludos,
Kim Elena
POSTED IN: sustainability
Our mission is to achieve real environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability. Doing so requires long-term dedication, constant innovation, and perseverance. Photo by Jeff McArthur.
Since 2007, we have published an annual scorecard charting our progress toward social, environmental, and fiscal sustainability goals. Our business spans continents, cultures, and communities, and the data we measure reflects the breadth of our efforts across these divides: from investment in coffee-producing communities to the environmental impact of our roasting facility in Durham, NC.
 
When we created the scorecard, we selected metrics that would be meaningful and challenging over the course of many years, and, as we have continued to learn, adjust our energy and our categories to reflect improved sustainability strategies.
 
This year's scorecard includes new paper and energy use reduction goals while updating our progress on the five-year goals we set in 2009 as part of our CUPS initiative, which include measures of employee, producer, and customer satisfaction, as well as our company's footprint through the miles driven by our employees.
 
We love to share our thoughts about sustainability and believe in the benefits of collaboration, so please, share your feedback, questions, and ideas with us anytime!
 
 
Best,
Nathan
POSTED IN: sustainability
We're honored to be a finalist for the Institute for Sustainable Development's 2011 Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise of the Year Awards.
We're honored to be a finalist for the Institute for Sustainable Development's 2011 Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise of the Year Awards.

In addition to environmental efforts, the Green Plus awards recognize organizations "for their success in balancing strong business, community, and environmental practices." Please take a look around our Sustainability section for more information about our efforts to strike that balance.

As a finalist, we're also eligible to win a Green Plus People’s Choice Award. Voting is currently open.

Thanks,
Nathan
POSTED IN: sustainability
Hand brewing via French press or dip cone improves taste and efficiency.In pursuit of our CUPS goal of carbon neutrality by 2015, Counter Culture Coffee is trying to shrink our carbon footprint by using less: less paper, less packaging, less gasoline, and less electricity. Estimates of coffee’s seed-to-cup carbon footprint vary greatly: anywhere from two to eight pounds of carbon dioxide per pound of coffee. No matter how it’s measured, analyses show that the final stage in coffee’s lifecycle – brewing – is responsible for a large portion of that footprint.

While we continue to work on reducing the number of miles we drive and the electricity we use at our facilities, and as our grower partners continue practicing sustainable agriculture and working to reduce the energy they use on their farms, we encourage each of you to reduce your, and your cup of coffee's, carbon footprint. As of today, we added five simple, yet effective green brewing tips on our Brewing Guide page to help you avoid wasting energy and resources while brewing a delicious-tasting cup of coffee!

Saludos,
Kim Elena
We do all of our roasting in Durham, NC, and since our founding in 1995, we have partnered with organizations and donated resources to causes and organizations that work to preserve and improve our local community.Building a sustainable business is central to Counter Culture Coffee's mission. We strive to be leaders in sustainable coffee and combine our commitment to buying high-quality coffee with respect for the natural environment.

One of the responsibilities of a sustainable business is to contribute in positive ways to our local community, as well as the communities of producer partners around the world. We do all of our roasting in Durham, NC, and since our founding in 1995, we have partnered with organizations and donated resources to causes and organizations that work to preserve and improve our local community.

Thanks,
Nathan

 

POSTED IN: Durham, sustainability
Raised drying beds at the Ndaorini mill in Nyeri, Kenya.We’re excited to announce that our fresh Kenya Single Lot from Ndaroini in Nyeri, Kenya, has just qualified for Counter Culture Direct Trade Certification (CCDTC). The first of our Kenya Single Lots to meet all CCDTC criteria of communication, price, quality, and transparency, this lot of Ndaroini was purchased directly via the “second window” from the Gikanda grower cooperative.

For many years, Kenya’s small-scale, artisan farmers were required by law to tender their annual coffee harvests to a weekly auction in Nairobi, where coffees are sold to the highest bidder. Traditionally, most of these lots are bought by exporters, who then mix them into proprietary blends. Even so, we have for years gone directly to the bidders to secure pure, uncut auction lots that represent the most authentic, delicious expressions of Kenyan coffee. Recently, however, a “second window” opened in Kenya up to allow quality- and relationship-focused buyers like us to form direct partnerships with grower communities and collaborate on ground-level quality development and direct purchasing. As evidenced in the cup, our direct work with Ndaroini has yielded rich rewards.

Ndaroini, which resonates with classic Kenyan flavors of blackcurrant, tropical fruit, and dark chocolate, represents not only the astonishing skill and craft of Kenya’s coffee farmers, but also the tremendous quality made possible by direct, transparent relationships between coffee partners.

Best,
Mark
POSTED IN: sustainability

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