By Bob Fish
It’s been a long journey, but our Living Hope Coffee is here! And we’ve only just begun!
Our coffee has always been of the highest quality, but until now, we never met the farmer that grew it. As we evolve into a Conscious Company, it has become obvious to us that we need to change the “how” and the “who” in the way we source our beans.
Conscious Companies put their stakeholders squarely in the center of their business model. Our stakeholders include our communities, shareholders, customers, the environment, vendors, and employees. We believe strongly that none of our stakeholders should be negatively impacted by our business practices. Doing business should be a win-win for everybody, and for the environment.
Once we began to examine these words seriously, we realized that we had not been taking the farmer (as a vendor) into consideration. The raw product that produces 80% of the revenue for our Franchise Owners comes from coffee farmers all over the world, but we had no idea whether they were treating their people right, or treating the planet right, or whether they were having a positive impact on their communities. Additionally, we did not even know if the farmer was able to sell their coffee at sustainable price to stay in business.
But that’s changing for good. Starting last year, I have been travelling (READ: The Journey) with my wife, Michelle, building relationships directly with farmers. We go in ‘boots on the ground’ getting to know the people, seeing how they operate, and finding out how they’re doing. Generally, we are looking for whether the farm itself is sustainable, whether they are treating and paying their people appropriately, whether they are treating the environment right, and finally whether they have a strong social mission that they are exercising in their community.
Living Hope coffee from Zambia is a great example of all of that. Their coffee farm supports an orphanage that is taking children from the bush whose parents have died, most commonly from malaria, or AIDS, or substance abuse… They take those kids and restore them to health, provide them with love, safety, shelter, and an education up to the 12th grade, and then on to college. The ultimate mission is to nurture the next generation of leaders in their community, so that they and future generations of Zambians can thrive. They treat their people right, they treat the earth right, and their social mission is off the charts good… Michelle and I have seen it with our own eyes. They produce about 25,000 pounds of coffee a year, and the coffee supports the mission, but their ability to get that quantity of coffee to a marketplace has been difficult.
That’s where BIGGBY comes in, we purchased all the coffee, making it possible for Living Hope to take care of the children they have, and add more beds to help more children. All we have to do is buy and consume their coffee, and we will be helping folks (that we know personally) at the other end of our value stream to ‘Build a Life they Love,’ too. To be able to help in a dignified way, not through paternalism, or handouts, but simply by learning, engaging, and participating with the local heroes (READ: Davies Chipoya) that are happy to do the heavy lifting, they just need a sales channel to make it all work.
The container of Living Hope coffee has just arrived at the roaster, and in a matter of weeks it will be in our cafes. Giving, Gratitude, and Love is lifting to the soul.