by Holly Madrigal & Torrey Douglass
It’s a simple logo: the letter B centered in a circle with the word “Certified” above and “Corporations” below. Perhaps you’ve seen it on a box of tea or some eco friendly body care products. Like the Non-GMO Project and USDA Organic symbols, the B Corp logo signifies a third party certification that guarantees adherence to a particular set of standards and builds consumer trust. For shoppers looking for a “purchase with a purpose,” that simple logo carries serious weight.
According to the B Corp community website, B Corporations “aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.” The certification process is voluntary, and companies must receive at least 80 out of 200 on their Impact Assessment, a process that measures an applicant’s impact on the environment, their workers, their customers, and the community. The rigorous vetting can benefit both the planet and a company’s bottom line. Think of the millennials: over 75 million strong, and surveys reveal they cite sustainability as a motivating purchasing priority.
We have a number of B-Corps in Mendocino County, and the community is taking notice. Check out long time Fort Bragg coffee roaster Thanksgiving Coffee, a company who actively embraces the concept of “business as a force for good.” When founders Paul and Joan Katzeff first opened their doors in 1972 the coffee world was a very different place. Over the years Paul and Joan have integrated their deep respect and love of both people and environment into their business practices. Thanksgiving Coffee was one of the first to travel to the coffee producing regions of Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Uganda, to not only create relationships with coffee farmers and purchase their beans, but also to invest in issues important to those communities like improving bird habitat, protecting the mountain gorilla, and supporting small-scale coffee farmer cooperatives.
This altruistic focus has not distracted from their core passion: the procurement and production of excellent coffee. Their state of the art facility in Noyo Harbor roasts up some of the best joe in the world. The prestigious Roast Magazine recently awarded ‘2017 Macro Roaster of the Year’ to Thanksgiving Coffee, and the competition comparing artisan roasters from around the world was fierce. “It is an honor to bring this award back to Mendocino County” says Thanksgiving Coffee Roastmaster and Fort Bragg local, Jacob Long.
Earning the B-Corp certification in November of 2015 affirms what those familiar with the company already know: that Thanksgiving Coffee puts its beliefs into action. Recently Paul Katzeff was contacted by the non-profit Friends of the Earth regarding the perilous health of bees and other pollinators, and true to form he dove in and helped create an initiative: the Bee Bold Mendocino campaign, which seeks to educate the community about how to make our county ‘Bee Friendly’. The Bee Bold coffee comes in different roasts and features organic, shade grown coffee from Guatemala, Rwanda, Peru and Nicaragua. One dollar of the proceeds from every bag of Bee Bold coffee helps fund the Bee Bold Mendocino initiative, whose board of directors includes Thanksgiving Coffee Company, the Noyo Food Forest, master gardeners and local bee keepers. This motived group was the driving force behind Fort Bragg, California becoming the first “Bee City” in the state.
Fort Bragg is hopefully a first step in making this whole county “Bee Friendly”. This designation involves eliminating the use of Neonics, a systemic pesticide that poisons nectar and pollen. Residents are encouraged to plant bee sanctuaries full of forage plants that bloom throughout the seasons. Bee Bold Mendocino also hosts educational events around the county. Lavender Cinnamon, former facilitator of the initiative, advocates planting native wildflowers along the highways and roads of Mendocino County to improve bee habitat. Our area could become known for the seasonal flower display as well as supporting a vigorous bee population.
Along with fellow B-Corp-ers Harvest Market, Fetzer Vineyards and North Coast Brewery, Thanksgiving Coffee goes above and beyond their contribution to our economy. Ghandi instructed us to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Supporting bees through the Bee Bold campaign is just one way Thanksgiving Coffee is doing just that. Their slogan ,“not just a cup, but a just cup” resonates with their commitment to not just make great coffee but to make the world a better place—particularly for the bees.