Meet Grayson: Bellwether’s Senior Sustainability Manager & Research Wizard

The best thing about the coffee industry is the people in it, so we’re pulling back the curtain to spotlight the amazing team we have here at Bellwether.

Who: Grayson Caldwell
Role: Senior Sustainability Manager
Location: Brooklyn, NY 

As Bellwether’s Senior Sustainability Manager, Grayson leads sustainability research and pushes the boundaries of what it means to source coffee sustainably for our Green Coffee Marketplace through initiatives like Tip the Farmer™, Verified Living Income, and her work as the SCA USA Environmental Sustainability Coordinator.

She’s a wizard at studying how coffee roasting, carbon emissions, and climate change are interconnected. The results are fascinating—you can measure your carbon impact here.

Hey Grayson, Will You Answer A Few Questions?

How did you get started working in the coffee industry? 

I first became interested in working in coffee when I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a rural, agricultural town in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. My family grew a small amount of coffee and we started many mornings either roasting coffee beans on an open fire or hand grinding coffee with a mortar and pestle. 

My official start in the coffee industry was during graduate school when I launched a program to deliver a new climating modeling system to mitigate climate risks for smallholder coffee farmers in Colombia.

What’s your favorite coffee in our Marketplace and why?

Magia del Campo because I love supporting this badass group of producers who not only produce great coffee but they also piloted our Verified Living Income initiative—they spent a year traveling by motorcycle to collect primary data on the cost of production for 38 producers. 

Why should someone get excited about sourcing through our Green Coffee Marketplace versus a big-name importer?

We are on a mission to transform how the coffee industry purchases green coffee! We form partnerships with values-aligned producers and specialty coffee importers and vet every coffee on our menu. 

Farmer equity is at the core of our coffee program and we are investing in paying farmers economically ethical prices. Bottom line: You can feel really good about the coffee that you are purchasing from the Bellwether Marketplace.

Also Read: Why Current Green Coffee Pricing Standards Don’t Work For Farmers

What’s something most people misunderstand about coffee sourcing?

Just how resilient coffee producers are. Poverty in the Coffeelands is an enduring crisis—coffee producers are constantly navigating unsustainably low prices against a steady drumbeat of volatility (la roya, climate change, incessant market movement, the list goes on…). In fact, change is the only constant for the 18 million coffee growing families around the world.

What excites you most about working for Bellwether? 

The work that we are doing to increase farmer equity! I am deeply committed to developing the first truly transparent, economically sustainable way of paying farmers fair prices through our Verified Living Income initiative and I can’t wait for the rest of the industry to follow suit.

So what’s a typical day for you? How does the magic happen?

Every day is different for me! Calls with producers and importers. Crunching numbers on fair prices for producers. Researching how we can deepen our environmental impact. Writing white papers and sustainability reports. Collaborating with industry leaders on how we can really move the needle forward to create a more sustainable coffee industry.

Also Read: Future Coffee Roasters: Natural Gas Bans Are Coming To A City Near You

How do you like your coffee?

My entire at-home brew setup was curated by our Customer Success extraordinaire, San. I brew using a Kalita Wave and only drink coffee black–I’m still recovering from drinking overly sweetened espresso for two and half years in the Peace Corps.

So surfing is a hobby! That’s cool. How did you get into it? Any big wave stories?

My mom owns a surf shop in North Carolina so I grew up surfing. Surfing strikes a perfect balance for me. I love the beach, sun, and salt water—it gives me a peaceful energy. But it’s also an adrenaline rush. Those wipeouts that put you through the washing machine before the ocean spits you out.  

No big wave stories—I prefer fun-sized, longboarding waves. One of my favorite breaks is a long left in a small bay in Sri Lanka called Hiriketiya. Not crowded and clear, warm water. Plus, the curry and coconut roti to fuel your surf sessions 🙂

Want to see how roasting coffee in-house with a Bellwether Roaster can help you build a stronger brand and keep more money per pound sold? Reach out today.