Where the money goes: Our 2021 transparency report

If you’re a coffee company making ethical claims about fair deals for coffee producers, how much profit should you keep for yourself? We’re not entirely sure, but we do know one thing: The people making the lion’s share in the coffee supply chain are roasters, and when they put ethical words on their packaging those profits get fatter.

So we’re trying something wildly different: You get to inspect our books. Here you’ll find how much our roaster makes, what we paid for recyclable coffee bags, and what our profit margin on a bag of coffee really is. You’ll see in this report what a true nonprofit looks like — nothing hidden, no catch — and why we think this is a model for the future of coffee.

The problem is, the coffee supply chain overall is inherently exploitative and colonial. Within that supply chain, the roasting step is by far the most profitable and powerful (roasters retain 80% of the profit margin from bean to cup). We can’t change the nature of the industry (yet), so we decided that the first step is to open a top-tier roasterie, set it up as a registered charity, and … give all the profits away.

Don’t believe us? Have a look.

We know there’s a lot of greenwashing and faux sustainability that happens in the coffee industry, and it’s healthy to be skeptical about ethical claims, “direct trade” language, and charities that claim to help while lining their own pockets. This report will allow you, the consumer, to keep us honest. We hope to build some trust here, and also pull back the curtain on how the coffee business works.

The most fun part of this experiment is giving money away, and we’re pleased to say that our main giveaways in year one went to The Stumping Project, which empowers Ethiopian farmers to regenerate old coffee trees for long term stability; the Knepp Wildland Foundation, which is doing profound work restoring ecosystems here in Sussex; and Pro Baristas, our partner charity project that connects unemployed people with satisfying coffee jobs through training in Brighton. (We didn’t actually give money to Pro Baristas last year, but we did roast them coffee!)

There’s more in this report about our trading partners and a sneak peek at what we’re working on in 2022. There may be load of items that raise questions. If so, just drop us a line. We’re happy to chat. Read the full document here.

Delicious coffee shouldn’t be ugly, and it shouldn’t be a secret either.