bellwether logo

Sustainability
Annual Report 2020

Letter from Bellwether

We would be remiss to start our Sustainability Report without acknowledging what a crazy year 2020 was. A global pandemic forced many of our customers, like other businesses across the world, to close their doors. Divisive politics and social movements to combat oppression and racism roared across the United States. It was a year of massive change and significant loss, but also of continued hope- that together we can create a better future.

Despite the challenging year, Bellwether was fortunate to experience rapid growth in 2020. Our revenue grew over 100% and our installations of roasters doubled. We officially launched Tip the Farmer™, our impact program to financially support coffee producers, and we developed a sustainability calculator to enable our customers to measure their environmental impact from roasting on a Bellwether. This was a true team effort and we are deeply grateful to everyone who contributed to our growth and accomplishments this year.

We’re excited to share our 2020 Sustainability Report and look forward to continuing our work together in making the coffee industry more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive for all.

Team Bellwether

Our Mission

The Bellwether commercial coffee roaster is the most consistent, controllable, and sustainable roaster in the world. Powered by electricity, producing zero emissions, and compactly designed, the Bellwether re-imagines commercial coffee roasting for a sustainable world.

We’re transforming the coffee industry, making it more accessible and sustainable for our planet and communities across the entire coffee supply chain.

To realize our vision, we’re concentrating our efforts on four areas of impact:

  • Remove emissions from roasting: eliminate roast processes that harm our planet with the first zero-emissions commercial coffee roaster.
  • Sustainably source green coffee: invest in the future of a healthy, sustainable, and resilient coffee industry by paying farmers economically ethical prices.
  • Make roasting accessible to all: allow anyone to source, roast, and sell their own coffee right from day one.
  • Lead by example: be the standard for how companies thrive by nurturing an open-door culture of inclusivity.
bellwether sustainability report
2020 by the numbers
outline of cloud

Reduce Environmental Impact of The Coffee Industry

Bellwether Roasters reduced CO2 emissions by
896,096
pounds

Sustainably Source Green Coffee

390,720
pounds of coffee roasted on a Bellwether
outline of plant
outline of heart

Support Farm Communities

$3,000
distributed directly to coffee producers through Tip the Farmer™

that’s equal to:

outline of a moving truck
Keeping a car off the road for 985,706 miles

or

outline of a house
Turning off electricity in 90 homes for an entire year

or

outline of recycleable symbol
179 tons of waste recycled instead of landfilled

Increase Accessibility to Coffee Roasting

69%
of our customer fleet had never roasted before Bellwether
21%
of our customers are BIPOC
environmental sustainability

Sustainable Development Goals

Bellwether aligns with several of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are the core of the global community’s Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations (UN) members in 2015 to provide people and the planet a blueprint for peace and prosperity.

Sustainable Development Goal 3

The Bellwether Roaster reduces the emissions of dangerous VOCs and particulates, which can result in the development of respiratory problems, allergies, and even cancer. Bellwether’s technology thus promotes the well-being for workers employed in the coffee roasting industry.

sdg 3: good health and well being
sdg10: reduced inequalities

Sustainable Development Goals 5,8, and 10

Bellwether customers can contribute directly to a coffee farmers’ livelihoods through Tip the Farmer™, which increases their ability to invest in their communities and reduces inequality, while also aligning with growers that employ people of all genders.

Sustainable Development Goal 12

Green coffee beans are transported directly from port to local coffee shops and, as a result, do not have to be roasted and packed in small volumes at a roasting facility, which eliminates 8kg of packaging waste going to a landfill per 100 kg of roasted coffee–that’s equivalent to 4 single use coffee cups!
sdg 12: responsible consumption and production
sdg 13: climate action

Sustainable Development Goal 13

The Bellwether Roaster is all-electric, reducing GHG emissions by 87% compared to a traditional natural gas-powered roaster.

The Future of Sustainable Coffee Roasting

Traditional roasting’s toll on the environment

Coffee roasting currently accounts for 15% of the carbon footprint of the coffee industry. With the U.S. producing over 8 billion pounds of coffee every year, the harmful impact of carbon intensive, traditional gas-powered roasting is not sustainable for our planet or for coffee farmers’ future.

The most sustainable roaster in the world

A third-party lifecycle assessment found roasting on a Bellwether reduces the carbon footprint of the roast cycle by 87%, compared to a traditional gas-powered roaster. The Bellwether Roaster saves 2.077 pounds of CO2 emissions per pound of roasted coffee, saving over 43,000 pounds annually—equivalent to keeping a car off the road for 49,000 miles!!

Ventless roasting

Bellwether’s first-of-its-kind recirculating roasting technology eliminates particulates and VOCs in real-time, during coffee roasting, without requiring additional ventilation systems or afterburners. Roasting on a Bellwether reduces the VOCs and particulate matter by 80% and 43% respectively during the roast cycle compared to a natural gas roaster with afterburner.

Reduced packaging and transport

Roasting on a Bellwether locally eliminates the packaging waste and carbon emissions from transporting coffee to and from centralized roasting hubs. For every pound of coffee that you roast on a Bellwether, you cut out 2.8 oz of packaging—that’s equivalent to 4 single-use cups!

GHGe from Roasting Comparison
pollution comparison
outline of calculator
In 2020, we created a sustainability calculator to enable Bellwether Roaster users to measure their environmental savings and calculate the total impact of Bellwether’s roasting fleet to help achieve our mission of a more sustainable coffee industry.

The calculator measures the greenhouse gas emissions avoided from roasting on a Bellwether Roaster compared to a traditional natural gas-powered roaster. The tool calculates annual environmental savings based on pounds of coffee roasted weekly and the state’s electric grid where you are roasting.

Want to learn more about your environmental savings? Check out the new Sustainability Calculator!

Natural Gas Bans

Over the past year, a growing number of U.S. cities across California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington have taken steps to ban natural gas hook-ups in new buildings to combat climate change.

Burning natural gas produces heavier methane emissions which collect in the Earth’s atmosphere, trap heat, and play a key role in increasing climate volatility. Representing over 80% of the country’s building emissions, natural gas is the greatest opportunity to reduce emissions across the country.
pictures of article clippings
With rapidly lowering electricity costs from renewable sources, banning new natural gas hookups, for many cities, appears to be a meaningful first step to reduce harmful carbon emissions. For the coffee industry, no new gas hook ups means no new gas-powered roasters or roasteries.

While gas bans are a relatively new policy, electrification is an inevitable force and a gas-free future for coffee roasters is already here. The Bellwether runs on electricity—not natural gas—and is the only commercial roaster that can be operated entirely by renewable
farmer equity

We are investing in the future of a healthy, sustainable, and resilient coffee industry by paying farmers economically ethical prices.

Gender Equity—Whenever possible, we buy coffee from womens producers.

Transparency—Information is a powerful tool to create accountability across the coffee supply chain. It’s not enough to know just who grew coffee, we should know how much they were paid.

Farmer-centric pricing—We are committed to raising the industry standard by paying farmers economically ethical prices based on coffee farmers’ livelihood needs.

Ongoing relationships—Paying farmers ethically today is the foundation of our coffee relationship, but we also believe in investing in farmers’ futures to help farmers thrive. We aim to sign multi-year contracts with our farmers and provide additional payments, when possible, to support the long-term vision for their farms and communities.

Agency—Farmers know best how to invest in their futures. We will never earmark funds for specific projects, but instead give farmers complete autonomy to invest money where needed.

Connection—It matters to know the person behind each cup. We aim to build relationships with our producers through trips to origin and strive to connect you and your customers with stories and images from the farmers that grew the coffee you’re drinking.

Introducing...

introducing the green coffee scorecard
bellwether team in tolima columbia

Tip The Farmer

Tip the Farmer™ is an out-of-the-box impact program that economically empowers coffee farmers and connects coffee drinkers through a ‘tip’ paid to the producer behind each cup of coffee.

How it works:

  • Bellwether customers add a small surcharge on coffee products at the point of sale
  • Bellwether distributes 100% of the money to participating farmers directly—we pay all fees associated
  • Farmers choose how they want to invest the money into their farms and communities
  • Bellwether shares program updates with participants to share how the money was invested and the impact it created

In 2020, Bellwether distributed $3,000 through Tip the Farmer™ to the ASOPEP cooperative in Tolima, Colombia.

In 2020, Bellwether distributed $3,000 through Tip the Farmer™ to the ASOPEP cooperative in Tolima, Colombia.

Asociación de Productores Agropecuarios de Café Especial de Planadas (ASOPEP) was founded in 2013 in Planadas, Tolima, Colombia. Even as a relatively young organization, ASOPEP is a leader. It has 275 members, more than any other association in Tolima, and it is the only cooperative with complete coffee infrastructure to control the entirety of processing, quality control, transportation, and commercialization.

Through Tip the Farmer™, participating coffee shops raised an initial $3000 that was distributed to ASOPEP in April 2020, just- in-time to help them mitigate the risk of spread of COVID-19. ASOPEP purchased PPE for all of the healthcare workers. They also launched an initiative to deliver essential services to producers living outside of town to protect producers from contracting the coronavirus. The resiliency that the producers of ASOPEP have demonstrated in this unprecedented time is one of the many reasons we are proud to partner with them.

asopep
customer highlight kunjani
Kunjani is a women-owned coffee shop and gallery in Naples, Florida. Kunjani is a Zulu and Xhosa word which means “how’s it going?” or “how are you?.” From selling FairTrade artisanal goods in their gallery to building water pumps in Africa—they are on a mission to serve coffee with a purpose and to be a force for good in their community.

Looking for opportunities that enabled them to do more for coffee farmers directly, Kunjani signed up to participate in Bellwether’s Tip the Farmer™ program by adding a small surcharge to every cup of coffee that is sold. The small surcharge was easy to implement and Kunjani’s customers feel good about having an impact behind each cup of coffee. Stephanie, the owner, says, “I love the fact that [farmers] decide how they want to use the money that they receive.”

Kunjani’s participation in Tip the Farmer™ is positively impacting the livelihood of coffee farmers around the world. Follow along on Kunjani’s journey on Instagram @kunjaninaples as they continue to make a positive impact in specialty coffee.
accessibility

Creating Opportunities During a Pandemic- 2 Months On Us

When COVID became imminent in early 2020, in order to deliver on our accessibility goal, we knew we needed to respond to what cafes were experiencing during a global pandemic—business slowed and and many coffee shops were forced to close altogether.

We knew that even though coffee retailers might not have been able to physically open their doors, by roasting in-house, they could still sell coffee, save money, and keep the lights on.

We launched 2 Months on Us—a campaign to pay the cost of a Bellwether Roaster lease or purchase for the first two months.

“I had an epiphany yesterday in all of this mess. The Bellwether was supposed to supplement my business. Now, it’s gonna be my business driver to help me get out of this mess.” Greg Vogeley, Drip Cafe | Newark & Hockessin, Delaware

CUSTOMER CASE STUDY | BLK\MRKT

BLK/MRKT opened in 2015 as a full-service coffee shop. As COVID-19 hit, Chuck, the owner, knew that they needed to make a pivot to be able to keep their doors open. In Fall of 2020, they pivoted from a full service cafe to a roastery.

Roasting on a Bellwether provided BLK/MRKT the consistency and reliability needed to operate a roastery. Chuck says, “[The Bellwether] is a workhorse and also better for the environment.”

Chuck admits that it was very hard to have a service industry business during a pandemic. He said, “I took a lot for granted running a cafe before COVID, how easy everything was in comparison to how it was during lockdown, and what it means to be around our community all the time.”

How are they keeping the community component alive? They still retail bags of coffee, host coffee tasting events, and even offer coffee classes on roasting, tasting, and espresso in their space. They’ve also begun to focus more on sustainability with their new business model—including, cutting down on packaging and launching a canister refill program.

We can’t wait to see what the new business model and new year have to hold! Follow BLK\MRKT’s journey on Instragram @blkmrktcoffee

photos from blk mrkt
inclusivity
two young girls looking at a bellwether roaster

Inclusivity At Bellwether

Our inclusivity statement has shaped Bellwether since day zero, and it reaches far beyond how we design our products or how we are transforming the coffee industry. It guides us as we strive to set the standard for how all companies across industries thrive by nurturing an open-door, inclusive culture.

Some steps we’ve taken to make our inclusivity goals real:

  • Defaulting to gender-neutral language
  • Using preferred pronouns in email signatures
  • Designing our office to include non-binary restrooms with non-binary signage
  • Implementing family-inclusive policies that provides 16 weeks of leave for any new parent
  • Conducting a gender pay equity audit and adjusted salaries in Q4 accordingly
  • We promise to always push the standard for radical inclusivity.

Racial Equity

As a company, we are committed to inclusivity and recognize that our platform can help share cultures and mindsets. In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, we took the following actions:

  • We formed an in-house anti-racism coalition
  • We began a monthly book club focused on minority authors and provided funding to our employees to purchase books from black-owned bookstores
  • We amplified the voices of our Black customers through social media platforms, website, and media opportunities
  • We made Juneteenth an official company holiday

 

We understand that we must continue to be active in sustaining our growth, unlearning, learning, and support of the Black community. The work that we’ve done to date is not enough—our work towards racial equity must be ongoing. In 2021, we will undertake a self-study around Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion. that will inform the development and launch of a comprehensive strategy plan for the company across these areas.

congrats to sip & sonder
photo from sip and sonder

Looking Ahead

2020 was a tough year for all of us and though there is a lot to leave behind—exhaustion, grief, disconnect, frustration—most, if not all, of this will carry over as we turn the calendar to 2021. Despite the odds, we accomplished a lot in 2020, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our customers, partners, investors, board members, families, friends, and communities.

In 2021, our goal is to have more people roasting on Bellwether Roasters across the United States and Canada, collectively contributing to our goal for a more sustainable and equitable coffee industry.

We have an exciting new initiative to share that is rooted in farmer equity and will change the way the coffee industry pays coffee producers around the world. We are hoping that we can safely travel to origin to form deeper partnerships with importers and coffee producers to ensure that we are upholding our green coffee buying principles. And we are excited to see everyone in person at SCA Expo in October!

We’re in this together and we hope you will join us!

Team Bellwether

bellwether logo