It's one of the most urgent questions of our time how can we live in harmony with nature and each other? There is so much to learn and so much to do. Where should we start? How can a small company contribute? Here are some actions we're taking that we hope make a difference.
Products and Suppliers
The flow of coffee from producer to consumer is complex. Our business is influenced by agricultural cooperatives, brokers, regulators, and world commodity markets. We're scrutinizing our supply chains as we try to build a line of sustainably produced coffees and related products.
- sourcing certified coffees including Fair Trade, Organic, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, and Rainforest Alliance
- sourcing relationship coffees that bring us together with growers in long-term agreements
- sourcing Cup of Excellence coffees that pay top harvest prices to farmers
- sourcing shade-grown coffee that preserves habitat
- traveling to origin to collaborate with our growing partners and learn about sustainable agriculture
- sharing coffee origin data with our customers
- serving local, hormone-free milk in espresso bars
- using corn-based compostable cups instead of plastic
- using local providers of goods and services whenever possible
Facilities and Energy
We operate a small roastery and a handful of espresso bars, and we're trying to make smart decisions about the facilities we occupy. We don't own most of these properties, but we can make an impact.
- restored aging buildings for our roastery and warehouse, using existing structures instead of new construction
- employed green building practices at the roastery, including radiant floor heat, soy-based insulation, and free energy from passive solar gain
- created a composting solution for the tons of coffee grounds used in our espresso bars annually
- revitalized worn commercial spaces for our cafes
- used primarily refurbished appliances and furniture
- sourced renewable energy for our espresso bars and roastery
Education and Community
Thousands of customers come through our cafes every day. Our wholesale partners see thousands more. And, our web audience is growing. All these points of contact are really opportunities to contribute to our greater community.
- energizing neighborhoods by creating popular gathering places, often where none existed before
- educating consumers through an active publishing effort that includes posters, web pages, and barista training
- educating our staff by hosting sustainability lectures with local college faculty
- promoting sustainability thinking by sponsoring social justice documentaries at the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
- preserving historic buildings through renovations and donations to the Historic Ithaca preservation fund
- partnering with dozens of community organizations, locally and globally, for philanthropic purposes
- supporting AIDS relief work by raising thousands of dollars annually for the regional foundation
- examining our choices through ongoing conversations with our customers, vendors, and peers in the specialty coffee trade
- reaching a wide audience with educational content by using the “podium” of our growing business
What You Can Do
As a consumer you have power and you should use it.
- educate yourself about the products and services you buy, and sustainability in general
- support communicative companies that share info on their products and business practices
- push Gimme! Coffee to publish more educational content and be as transparent as possible
- select our coffees that match your requirements
- tell us what you want to know about our business
- tell us what we need to do better
- ask yourself, how do my actions affect the world at large?
- send feedback by the bushel
Thinking About Sustainability
We are not sustainability experts. We're improving as we learn, and we're learning from specialists, such as Professor Jason Hamilton, a global change biologist and sustainability educator at Ithaca College. Hamilton has opened our eyes with his stirring lectures on the “status of the earth as a life support system.” He emphasizes that sustainability is not just another word for environmentalism the real substance is in the connections between environment, communities, and other factors. He suggests that, when confronted with a choice, we ask:
- Does it contribute to a healthy environment?
- Does it contribute to a healthy community?
- Does it contribute to healthy businesses?
- Does it contribute to healthy individuals?
We're learning that sustainability means interdependency and working toward a sustainable planet incorporates all of the elements. One of the most exhaustive scientific surveys ever conducted puts the state of our planet in bold terms:
“Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.
Nearly two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are found to be in decline worldwide. Unless we acknowledge the debt and prevent it from growing, we place in jeopardy the dreams of citizens everywhere to rid the world of hunger, extreme poverty, and avoidable disease...”
- Millenium Ecosystems Assessment
Almost 2,000 of the world's top scientists, across the scientific disciplines, collaborated on that assessment. We're guessing that there's something to it. We're feeling motivated to act. Please stay tuned for more about sustainability and artisan coffee on this web site.