(B)rew the Change

Why are we giving away free coffee on Wednesday, April 13, 2016? We're celebrating Nossa Familia Coffee becoming Oregon's first B Corp Certified coffee roaster.

by Nicole Freshley, Sustainability & Culture Coordinator

Bring your reusable mug to the Nossa Familia Espresso Bar on Wednesday, April 13 and fill up with free drip coffee, all day long, no limits. Why? We’re in a celebratory mood! There’s a message we want to share, and we always enjoy talking over a cup of coffee.

We’re celebrating because we recently became a Certified B Corporation, the first coffee roaster in Oregon to achieve this distinction. Wait, wait, let’s say that again - this is a big deal! We got our B Corp certification, and it wasn’t easy! More than a year has passed since we first set our sights on this goal, and the hard work involved has challenged and strengthened our company. We’re now part of an amazing global business community with a strong Portland contingent (check out the growing list of Portland B Corps on the B Corp website).

So, what does it mean to be a B Corp? And why did we do it?

B Corps are companies that believe in using business as a force for good, recognizing that business is one of the most powerful drivers in our modern age. B Corps think in terms of the positive impact and change business can bring to our world, instead of thinking in terms of minimizing or mitigating the negative. Every business decision made has an impact, and B Corps believe that when business decisions are made with all stakeholders (not just shareholders) in mind, great things will happen.

Grand Central Bakery's Jess Tannenbaum and Nossa Familia owner & founder Augusto Carneiro try out a bicycle coffee mill in Guatemala.

Grand Central Bakery's Jess Tannenbaum and Nossa Familia owner & founder Augusto Carneiro try out a bicycle coffee mill in Guatemala.

What does being a B Corp look like in practice?

To become a Certified B Corp, companies have to achieve a passing score on the Impact Assessment. This rigorous, extremely detailed assessment focuses on how a company’s practices affect its workers, community, and the environment, and on whether the company is transparent and accountable. While certifications like Organic and Fair Trade focus predominantly on supply chain ingredients, B Corp certification is an overarching, holistic verification of Nossa Familia’s conscientious business practices. Working through the assessment was no small task, especially considering that compiling information from our suppliers always involves navigating time differences, speaking Spanish and Portuguese, and catching folks when they’re not out in the field. The Impact Assessment is challenging to begin with, and it’s uphill from here! When companies re-certify every two years, they face a shifting baseline: not only are companies measured in terms of improvement over their previous reporting period, but the assessment routinely changes. But we like a good climb. One of the reasons B Corp certification appealed to us is the promise of a challenge: we know that being a part of the B Corp community will inspire us, while the rigor of the certification will push continual growth.

Built on family trade, Nossa Familia has always been relationship-centric and community minded. From the beginning we’ve worked with coffee farms who hold fair labor practices and demonstrate innovative environmental responsibility. As we grow we’re excited to support our own workers and our local community in new ways. A few examples of our practices which align with the B Corp ethos include:

  • Sourcing green coffee from farmers, cooperatives, non-profits, and importers with positive social and environmental standards.
  • Developing mutually beneficial relationships with coffee farmers and cooperatives over time.
  • Opting to pay surpluses on green coffee to support projects at coffee growing origins.
  • Offering a Sustainable Retirement Investment option to employees.
  • Supporting employee volunteer efforts through Paid Volunteer Time.
  • Donating money, coffee, and facility space to hundreds of local organizations each year.
  • Facilitating educational, employment, and business partnerships with local non-profits p:ear, Community Vision, and Central City Concern.
  • Helping promote a healthy community through cycling events, running events, and farmers markets. 
  • Roasting all of our coffee with the most environmentally friendly coffee roaster on the market.

The truth is, we’re pretty excited about becoming a B Corp. We hope you’ll stop in for a free cup of drip and help us celebrate the B Corp movement. 

Nossa Familia team members on a staff volunteer day, planting native shrubs on a with Portland non-profit Friends of Trees.

Nossa Familia team members on a staff volunteer day, planting native shrubs on a with Portland non-profit Friends of Trees.