Nossa Familia Awarded Finalist for 2020 Roaster of the Year

Nossa Familia Awarded Finalist for 2020 Roaster of the Year


We are proud to announce that Nossa Familia has been selected as a finalist (top 3) for the 2020 Roaster of the Year by Roast magazine, in the Macro Roaster category. The other two finalists are Coffee by Design and Dean’s Beans. More about the competition, via Daily Coffee News:

The top three finalists for Roast magazine’s 16th Annual Roaster of the Year awards have been announced in the Macro Roaster category. Winners for each category will be announced this Thursday, Oct. 17.

Roast recognizes winners from two categories: Macro Roaster of the Year, for companies roasting more than 100,000 pounds annually; and Micro Roaster of the Year, for companies roasting fewer than 100,000 pounds of coffee each year. The three finalists in the Macro Roaster category are listed below in no particular order, with information obtained from the company’s award application. (Click here to view finalists for the Micro Roaster of the Year award.)

The Roaster of the Year awards recognize companies that roast coffees of superior quality, exemplify a dedication to sustainability, promote employee and community education, and demonstrate a strong commitment to the coffee industry, among other criteria. To view or complete the application for next year’s competition, click here.

We our happy to share our full application Q&A with you here.


Nossa Familia’s 2020 Roaster of the Year Application Q&A

1. What is the size of your company? How many employees do you have? How many pounds of coffee did you roast last year? How long have you been in business?

Nossa Familia Coffee has 47 employees, and we roasted 407,436 pounds in 2018. We have one roastery in Portland, Oregon, plus three cafés in Portland and one espresso bar in Los Angeles.

The company has been in business since 2004, and was founded by Brazilian native Augusto Carneiro. Augusto has always felt a deep sense of pride for the work his family has done growing coffee in the highlands Brazil since the 1890s, and he formed Nossa Familia to bring his family's coffee to Portland. Early on, all of Nossa Familia's coffee was imported directly from his family's farms, and today these Brazilian fazendas remain at the core of our direct trade coffee model. Over time we have developed deeply-rooted relationships with coffee growers around the world, sourcing specialty coffees from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, and Kenya.

2. What is your company’s mission?

Our company’s mission is to deliver exceptional farm-direct coffee and create positive relationships locally and globally.

At every step, we continuously strive to foster community, ensure social responsibility & minimize our environmental impact. This tradition starts with our family—nossa familia in Augusto’s native Portuguese—which has been growing coffee in Brazil for over a century. We've learned from our family to practice true sustainability in taking care of the plants, soil, air, water, community, and ourselves.

We source high-quality coffee in an ethical manner from smallholder and family farmers, working directly and through responsible importers. We strive to be direct and transparent throughout every step of our supply chain. We foster relationships through good business practices with our customers, vendors, suppliers, and farmers. Our vision is to create a coffee company that makes the world a better place.

We encourage employees to carry out our mission by operating with our core values in mind. These are:

  • ABMF (Always Be Making Friends) - Strangers are simply friends we haven't made yet! We seek new connections & look for the win-win in every situation.

  • Build Trust - We act with honesty and integrity, and strive to be a reliable source of knowledge and support.

  • Live Fully! - We believe everyone should live life to the fullest - doing meaningful work, having fun, and working on personal growth.

  • Care - We show care throughout our Full Cycle of coffee: caring for each other, our local community, customers, farmers, and delivering exceptional coffee.

  • Entrepreneurial Spirit - We treat challenges as opportunities. We problem-solve and work creatively to get things done.

3. What is your company’s commitment to sustainable practices?

At Nossa Familia, sustainability is both the result and the foundation of approaching every aspect of our business with care, and treating everyone involved in our supply chain as part of our extended and ever-growing family. We don’t use ‘sustainability’ as a buzzword; we go back to the root of the word: the ability to sustain. How do we make it more likely that our farms, our relationships, our places, and our business overall will continue into the foreseeable future in a positive way? Sustainability is embedded in our treatment of the environment, our relationships with producers and the fair price we pay for their coffee, and comes through in how drinks are served in our cafés. We strive to produce coffee in a way that has a positive impact on our world. 

We are proud to be a Certified B Corporation, signifying our commitment to the Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet, and Profit. We love B Corp because it isn’t just a rubber stamp: achieving the minimum 80 points on the B Impact Assessment to get certified is extremely difficult and needs to be backed up by documented practices and policies. In fact, there are only two coffee roasters in the state of Oregon who have achieved B Corp Certification, with Nossa Familia being the first.

A few key highlights of our sustainability practices include:

  • Zero Waste Program & To-Go Cup Upcharge - Last year we made a commitment to pursuing Zero Waste at our cafés and company-wide. We’ve taken a hard look at our sources of waste and how we can make reductions. One area where we saw opportunity for significant reduction is in single-use, disposable coffee cup usage in our cafés. We piloted a program called the To-Go Cup Upcharge where we are charging an extra 25 cents for to-go drink orders. We have seen significant reductions in to-go cup usage as well as the share of customers bringing their own cup (which also gets a 25-cent discount). We started this at one café and have now expanded it to all three of our Portland shops due to its success in behavior change and positive customer response. We have since shared our results and know-how with others wanting to do the same.

  • CarbonNeutral Certification, carbon offsetting & carbon footprint measurement - In August 2018, we decided to open our newest café at Seven Corners in Portland with the goal of being a carbon neutral shop. We measured our carbon footprint, and purchased carbon offsets from a water filtration project we became familiar with in Guatemala through our visits there. We are currently pursuing CarbonNeutral Certification for the café, and our eventual goal is for the entire company to be carbon neutral.

  • Roasting with Loring - Our environmentally-friendly roasters, the Loring S35 Kestrel and Loring S70 Peregrine, are a key component of reducing our environmental impact. These machines have afforded us significant reductions in energy use over standard roasters (which we’ll discuss more below).

  • Beyond-fair-trade prices & sustainable producer partner relationships - Our focus on relationships includes our coffee-producing partners. We source coffee from consistent farms year over year, and we work directly with farmers to set prices that take into account their cost of production and ensure farmers economically viable futures. We’ve committed to paying above the Fair Trade Minimum Price for all of our coffees. On average, we pay 50% more than Fair Trade price.

4. What are your employee practices?

Our team is at the core of everything we do, and it may sound a bit cheesy, but we really are like a family. Without our employees, our familia, Nossa Familia would not be where it is today. We have several employees who have been with the company for over five years, and one of our awesome benefits is that at the five-year mark employees can get a five-week paid sabbatical.

We offer a variety of generous benefits to our employees. We offer subsidized healthcare to employees working 27 hours or more, supplemental pre-tax supplemental insurance, retirement plan options and matching, paid time off and paid holidays, alternative commuting benefits, paid parental leave, 16 hours of paid volunteer work, and free coffee.

A couple years ago we started a program called the Care Package to encourage personal growth and learning for our employees. Each quarter has a theme, such as financial fitness, health & wellness, emotional intelligence, relationship building, mindfulness, and more. We host many employee interest-led events & educational sessions on both personal and professional topics. Recent examples of this include: 

  • All Means All: A Seat for Every Body at the Table - an event led by Barista Supervisor, Dan, on inclusive culture and designing space to promote body size diversity

  • Cooking with Candice - a vegan cooking class with barista Candice

  • Tango with Steven - tango class with Wholesale Account Manager, Steven

  • Strength Building with Julie - weekly high-intensity and strength training fitness classes with our Sales Manager, Julie

Efforts toward Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are also important to us. We want to be a welcoming and inclusive space for all, both in terms of our employees as well as for customers in our cafes. We offer an annual Safe Space Training for employees to learn about issues surrounding privilege, unconscious bias, microaggressions, harassment, and more. We conduct regular employee surveys to measure demographics, diversity, satisfaction, and sense of belonging at the company. We host regular town hall meetings to gather feedback and ideas so that everyone feels they have a stake and a say in the future of the company. We host Manager Salons to educate and train managers on good management practices, and to discuss difficult management issues we are working through.

We also recently created an employee work enrichment program called Job Pathways, which we’ll go into more detail about in the question below.

5. What are your educational practices?

The goal of our Job Pathways program is to nurture our employees’ growth by engaging them in more skilled and fulfilling work, which also generates more value for the company. Unlike cross-training, which is typically horizontal movement within a company, our goal is to elevate employees by training them in higher-value, higher-level work so that they can experience vertical growth within the company. This program is also valuable to the company itself, which as we grow will have increasing needs for higher-level work. As an example within the Job Pathways program, we are training our delivery drivers in more wholesale account management skills, such as coffee tech work and QA/QC with our customers. With that work also comes higher pay, and we have also published and augmented wage ranges for various roles within the company.

In addition to job skills training through Job Pathways, we offer an internal Professional Development Program which includes paid monthly learning sessions open to all employees from any department. We’ve hosted PDP sessions on preventative maintenance, how to lead a cupping, roasting basics, latte art & extraction, and more. Employees interested in learning more about roasting can also participate in periodic intensive roasting classes which are offered by our Director of Coffee.

We offer annual Coffee Origin Trips to Guatemala where we offer around five staff members from across the company a free trip to visit our producer partners. We also offer a few complimentary trips to our wholesale partners, and we sell the trips for an approachable rate to tourists, essentially subsidizing the cost of taking our staff. This is not a green buying or sourcing trip, but an educational opportunity for staff working in any department to learn and gain a stronger sense of meaning and connection to the source of the product they work with on a daily basis. Many of the employees who have gone on these trips have professed that they are deeply transformational, eye-opening, and even life-changing.

At Nossa Familia, we also have a general philosophy of openness around information and knowledge. It is essentially that nothing we do is proprietary or secret. We welcome in the public for tours to take photos and videos, and we answer questions with honesty. We are especially open and sharing when it comes to our sustainability practices, since we believe that if everyone adopted similar practices we would all be better off for it.

6. Please describe the company’s commitment to and involvement in the coffee industry.

We are deeply committed to the coffee industry and participate in a variety of ways. Our Director of Coffee, Rob Hoos, holds the highest level certificates from the Roasters Guild of America (RGA) and Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). He volunteers his time sitting on the Board and education committee of the RGA. He also works as a subject matter expert, content developer, and instructor for the SCA. He is a Certified Trainer for Loring and travels around the world instructing on roasting methodology and technology on these energy-efficient machines.

Our company encourages and supports our staff to compete in industry competitions as a means of professional growth and learning. We have had several employees compete in industry competitions, and earlier this year one of our Café Managers, Camille Bevans, competed at the US Coffee Champs in Nashville. We also regularly host latte art throwdowns and industry events at our locations. Last year, we hosted Zero Waste Plant-Based Latte Art Throwdown in order to highlight alternative milks and waste reduction. 32 baristas competed in the latte art competition, and each bracket featured a different kind of plant-based beverage. We promoted the event to non-industry consumers, and paired each barista with a latte drinker to receive a free latte, so that no drinks were wasted.

We often lead the way when it comes to industry education on sustainability and inclusion. We championed an effort to have an Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience intern who researched sustainability best practices in coffee roasting and cafés, and produced a report to benefit our local industry of coffee companies. We share our best practices with other companies. We have attended and hosted events around inclusion, most recently our “All Means All: A Seat for Every Body at the Table” event around body size diversity, particularly in retail settings.

We see our work at origin as one of the most significant ways of contributing to the future of the coffee industry, especially in the midst of the coffee price crisis. We promote transparency and publish our coffee prices. We also believe that supporting the future of coffee farming through young farmers is a crucial endeavor for the coffee industry. In 2018 we introduced the Next Generation Roast, a special coffee with local grocery store chain New Seasons Market. We teamed up to purchase a special lot from Young Farmers in Guatemala and paid them $3.20 per pound for their first harvest.—double Fair Trade price, and over triple the current commodity price. $1 from each bag of coffee sold has gone back to support the establishment of a Young Farmers Fund with our partners at De la Gente in Guatemala, which will go toward a sustainable micro-loan program so that young farmers can purchase land, equipment and provide ongoing education for these farmers.

7. Please describe your company’s innovation in roasting.

Nossa Familia has been an innovator in roasting practices ever since we started roasting our own coffee in 2012. At that time, after 8 years working with another local roasting company, Augusto decided it was time for Nossa Familia to start roasting its own. He sought out a machine that would have a lower environmental impact than a standard roaster, and took a chance on a small company based in Northern California that was fairly new to the roaster manufacturing scene called Loring Smart Roast. Augusto was intrigued by their innovative approach to energy efficiency, and bought the sixth machine the company ever built: the S35 Kestrel. Rob Hoos was hired shortly after to be Nossa’s first roaster and Director of Coffee, and has been pushing the envelope and questioning common roasting paradigms with Nossa Familia ever since.

Roasting on the Loring S35 meant that Nossa Familia was able to use 80% less energy and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% over a standard roaster. In 2018, Nossa Familia moved into a new roasting facility in Northwest Industrial Portland, and acquired a new, larger machine called a Loring S70 Peregrine. Further energy efficiency improvements on this machine mean that this roaster uses even less energy. We recently calculated based on our 2018 roasting numbers that our Loring machines used 87% less energy than a conventional roaster, which is equivalent to 54 passenger cars driven for a year or 44 homes’ electricity use for a year. Today, we are proud to roast most of our coffee on the Loring Smart Roast S70 Peregrine and smaller batches on our S35 Kestrel.

Rob Hoos, our Director of Coffee, is also a leader in roasting science and innovation, and much of his work has been covered by Roast Magazine. In 2015, he published his first book, Modulating the Flavor Profile of Coffee: One Roaster’s Manifesto, which takes a deep dive into manipulating the flavor of coffee through varying the profile in roasting and investigates the sources of flavor development during the coffee roasting process. Much of Rob’s work revolves around questioning common dogmatic preconceptions within the coffee industry, particularly that a coffee roast’s flavor is dependent on the roasting machine itself. He recently worked with another coffee industry veteran, Anne Cooper, to create a workshop called “Can You Taste the Roasting System (CYTTRS)” for the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA)’s Coffee Roasters Guild. This workshop and the triangulation experiments within it have proven that roast profile is the primary driver of coffee flavor, not the machine itself. This important work allows roasters to be more confident that they are in control of their coffee’s flavor, and to question the assertions made by roaster manufacturers about the impact of their roasting systems on flavor. Instead roasters can focus on choosing a roasting machine based instead of questions of customer service, build quality, pricing, support, environmental efficiencies and other innovations.

8. Please describe your company’s innovation in marketing.

Our company’s goal in marketing is to use “Marketing for Good.” We aim for most of our marketing budget to be spent on things that “do good” in a fairly direct way. This means focusing on donating product to local nonprofits, supporting community events and organizations, promoting origin projects, public service-type announcements, co-promoting our community partners and giveback projects, sponsoring learning opportunities, and very limited traditional advertising outside of that with nonprofits, social enterprise projects or other Certified B Corps. Our marketing is deeply embedded with our community outreach, engagement, and donation program. In 2018 we donated over $55,000 in cash and product donations to over 200 organizations. 

We enjoy marketing our products and services hand-in-hand with giving back to various causes. Examples of this include:

  • Full Cycle is our Signature Blend and a portion of sales benefits two local cycling organizations, The Street Trust & Community Cycling Center.

  • Festa is our seasonal holiday blend, and 50 cents of every bag sold goes back to support  a project at origin. For the past three years we’ve donated to our partner farm in Nicaragua to help them build a communal kitchen and farm center.

We also partner with a number of nonprofits to provide products, space, skills, or expertise. We see this as a way to promote our brand when they talk about us or display our logo, while also providing items of value to those who are in need of what we can offer:

  • Central City Coffee is a social enterprise branch of Central City Concern which assists homeless women, primarily single mothers, in the path toward self-sufficiency. Through the coffee business, CCC supports trainees in job skills development, securing housing, and maintaining sobriety. Nossa Familia assists with evaluating, sourcing and roasting coffee, as well as providing production space for packaging, order fulfillment, and events.

  • p:ear is a local Portland nonprofit that provides mentorship to homeless and transitional youth. We work with p:ear to run an 8-week barista school job training program to teach barista skills to the youth and prepare them for employment. We also helped p:ear open their own walk-up coffee window at their headquarters, and provide them with donated coffee and pro bono training time.

  • Community Vision works to make Oregon a place where all people with disabilities can live, work, and thrive. They offer supported living, homeownership, asset development, youth programs and employment services. Nossa Familia has partnered with CVI to offer work to participants of their Employment Connections Program to provide job opportunities and skill development to people with disabilities. In 2018 we opened our accessibility-minded Seven Corners Café in CVI’s new headquarters, the Seven Corners Collaborative.

  • B Local PDX is the nonprofit that organizes programs and events in the Certified B Corporation community. Our Marketing & Sustainability Director, Karen, sits on the board, and we provide time and product for a variety of projects centered around the idea of using business as a force for good.

9. Please describe your company’s best business practices.

Overall, the theme of our best business practices is questioning traditionally-held assumptions about how ‘best’ to do business. This goes to the core of the B Corp philosophy as well, which places people and planet on the same plane as profits, so we can guide our decision-making based on not just what makes us money, but what is right.

We put our employees first and are fostering a culture of personal growth and learning, even when it may be costly or challenging, or lead to great vulnerability. In 2009, Augusto joined the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), with the goal of learning from other business owners and being intentional about the type of company culture we were building. This organization is a peer-to-peer support and learning group for business owners in all industries. Through EO Augusto has learned and implemented a wide range of systems and tools to help the company run better. Including:

  • Quartlerly & Annual Strategy Sessions

  • Quarterly All-staff meetings (where all staff hears about current initiatives and financial results).

  • Town Hall Meetings & employee surveys to gather input, suggestions and ideas from everyone in the company

  • Weekly meeting rhythms, and weekly or bi-weekly one-on-ones (everyone in the company gets to sit down with their supervisor to discuss how things are going.

  • Internal Barista competitions to help foster creativity, community, and create drink specials.

One of the most unique things that we do is our annual visits to coffee origin in Guatemala, particularly in that we invite employees across the company, regardless or role or department, as well as tourists and wholesale customers. We believe that building these personal connections to coffee producers and the product itself by going to the source is a magical way of nurturing a deep sense of care. Over the past several years of these trips, we’ve built incredible, lasting friendships with our coffee farming partners, and have helped them to see viable futures in the coffee industry for themselves and generations to come.

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