Stumptown is a B Corporation

Feb 11, 2019

Midway through 2018, Stumptown quietly became a certified B Corporation, a new kind of business model that balances purpose and profit. As a coffee roaster that started with one cafe in a small city and has expanded into a company with national reach, we came to the realization that we needed a framework to help mindfully grow our business. After research, internal discussions, and chatting with friends who were also certified B Corps, working with B Lab felt like the best fit for us. In joining the B Corp community, we’ve aligned ourselves with a group of more than 3000 businesses around the world who are ready to lead where environmental sustainability, supply chain responsibility, and corporate employee culture are concerned. What’s most exciting about the B Corp guidelines is that they challenge us to improve on ourselves, year over year; it’s less an achievement than it is a commitment to a better way forward.

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You’ve heard the stereotypes about Portland (or Brooklyn or LA, for that matter) -- we’ve got canvas grocery bags, beef with a backstory, and hybrid hatchbacks as far as the eye can see. We’re proud to be based in communities that consider their impact on our natural environment, and strive to minimize our own. Our Portland headquarters is powered by solar offsets and we take steps to limit emissions in our roasting process. Through the process of B Corp certification, we’ve been able to establish a baseline of our other energy use and we’re getting a handle on our waste output, as well. We’re looking forward to using this information to become even better stewards of the planet, as we move into a future with an ever more volatile climate. This is an area where we see an enormous amount of room for improvement, and we look forward to sharing our results with you over the years to come.

Our business relies on the seed of a temperamental plant cultivated by partners in communities much higher in elevation and lower in latitude than our headquarters in Portland. We’re proud of the fact that over 90% of our coffee is sourced from producers we’ve been working with for three years or more; over 20% of our coffee comes from folks we’ve worked with for longer than twelve years. We helped to pioneer the Direct Trade model of green coffee sourcing, and we’ve remained invested in conducting business with our producer partners through this relational, mutually beneficial approach. This means we’ve had the opportunity to grow together, and witness our producer partners invest in their businesses, their communities and their families, as we do the same.

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We understand that coffee farms, mills, and exporters are inextricably woven into the fabric of agrarian communities around the world. We’ve been fortunate to be able to support our partners in positively impacting the communities they call home. When Volcan de Fuego erupted outside of Antigua, Guatemala last year, we were able to team up with the Zelaya family of Finca Bella Vista and Guatemala-based nonprofit Funcafe to raise funds through our cafes to help rebuild homes in the region. When Tesfaye Bekele, the owner of Suke Quto farm and washing station in Ethiopia, let us know that his local school was falling into disrepair, we were able to work with his community and our import partners, Trabocca, to fund a new school where local families felt safe sending their kids. When our exporter partners at Pergamino, based in the city of Medellin, Colombia, let us know that folks in their community were suffering from negative health effects associated with indoor, open-fire cooking, we were able to join forces on a pilot program to supply families with clean-burning cookstoves.

Above all, our guiding philosophy is that our partners at origin are the people who are best suited to identify and solve the challenges in their communities. We’re honored be a supporter in that process.

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Here at home, we’ve been able to initiate and expand a number of initiatives for our employees across all sectors of the business. Since we were just one little cafe on Division Street, we’ve prided ourselves on being a great place to work; as we’ve grown, we’ve formalized some programs to help ensure that we’re an egalitarian, supportive employer. We know that Stumptowners from coast to coast are a group of passionate people with diverse interests; it’s important to us that everyone feel supported equally in their professional pursuits and their personal lives.

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In 2018, we kicked off the Stumptown Passion Project Fund, a grant program to support employees’ work outside of work. We’ve helped jump-start a Dungeons and Dragons podcast, a queer typography show, a couple of printing presses, an independent record label, a backyard greenhouse, and a homebrewing operation -- and that’s just scratching the surface. We’ve given out over $24,000 to 29 employees over four grant cycles, and have been delighted to watch everyone’s creativity blossom. We’ve also expanded our paid parental leave program, invested in raising compensation for entry-level positions, reduced eligibility requirements so that medical insurance and 401k participation begin immediately upon hire, and added paid volunteer hours to our standard employee benefits package.

Let this serve as less an announcement than a promise; through the support and guidance of the B Corp framework, we will challenge ourselves to conduct business, both locally and globally, in a way that betters the planet, the communities, and the people we work with.