A B Corp™ collaboration with Cafédirect  

Written by Georgie Monaghan - March 21, 2024

This B Corp month, we’re excited to share more insights into our collaboration with a fellow B Corp™ organisation, Cafédirect, with whom we closely partnered last year for the launch of their new, low-carbon website. In this exclusive interview, we invite you to explore Cafédirect’s remarkable journey, their dedication to sustainability, their path to B Corp™ certification, and their unwavering commitment to effecting positive change in the world.  

From their innovative sustainability practices to their inspiring community engagement efforts, Cafédirect exemplifies what it means to be a socially and environmentally conscious business leader. 

We spoke to Lauren Morris, Senior Communications Manager at Cafédirect, earlier this month to catch up since the launch of their new website, and chat about all things B Corp™. 

Let’s dive into this chat with a few questions about your brand new website! 

Q: In what ways does your new website reflect Cafédirect’s brand values and commitment to sustainability? 

As a B Corp and social enterprise our success is based on the positive impact we have on the environment, people, and profit. Having a more sustainable website helps us to do this. It is one of our goals to show how business can be done better, and a website that shows ‘best practice’ does this. For the same reason, it was also important to be working with a web agency with similar values, and Wholegrain’s B Corp certification gave us that confidence.

Q: How does the website contribute to Cafédirect’s broader sustainability initiatives and messaging to its audience? 

We are the only UK coffee company to have set a science-based net zero target (‘the science’ part means it’s based on fact not fiction). So we won’t take more than we give back to the earth.  It’s a big goal but we’ve already reduced our emissions by 37% from 2019. To achieve this we have to be smart about how we use our resources, including our website. Our goal is to motivate people to live more sustainably through the work we do and the ideas we share.  Our website is  important because it helps us give people a good reason to choose our coffee, understand why our work matters and how to make a difference. 

Q: Were there any notable challenges encountered during the development of the low-carbon website and how were they addressed? 

Wholegrain introduced us to sustainable web design. They guided us towards website layouts that were best practice for sustainability and less energy intensive. That meant changing some aspects of our homepage and  keeping file sizes to a minimum. Lowering the image size meant some file types lost their correct pantone, but Wholegrain quickly came up with a solution.    

Q: Currently, your home page (https://www.cafedirect.co.uk/) receives an A rating on Website Carbon. Looking ahead, are there any future enhancements or updates planned for the website to further improve its digital sustainability and performance? 

There are no updates currently planned. For now the site is fit for purpose and scores well on sustainability, thanks to Wholegrain.  We’ve learnt a lot along the way which will inform what we do when we evolve the site. Now we know how important it is to keep a website’s footprint low, we’ll continue to take this approach.

And on sustainability in general: 

Q: How does Cafédirect measure the effectiveness of its sustainability initiatives, and what metrics do you use to track progress? 

The Science-Based Targets initiative sets goals and we track our carbon reduction yearly to measure progress with an external agency.  Our business roadmap (named our ‘Gold Standard’) sets our sustainability goals across growers, environment, community and business. All our teams work towards these goals so we have sustainability running through the business. Progress is tracked  every quarter and reported to the Board of Directors.

Q: Can you tell us about Cafédirect’s journey towards prioritising sustainability in your business operations? 

We’ve been measuring our carbon footprint for longer than most. As a social enterprise, we always consider the environment and society when running the business. It’s a promise and a legal obligation.  All our business goals are centred around having a positive impact with everything around us.   

We have been a B Corp since 2018. The movement was quite new in the UK and we were the first coffee brand to take the plunge and apply for certification. We always think carefully about the things we make to keep our environmental impact to a minimum. That includes who we work with and the full extent of our reach – including our website. 

Q: How does Cafédirect integrate sustainable practices into its supply chain, from sourcing coffee beans to packaging and distribution? 

Because we have some tough Science-Based Targets, we continually reduce our impact across the supply chain and monitor the progress yearly. A few of the ways we work to address this include: 

  • Farming methods – we invest in coffee farmers so that they get the training, data, finance and technology they need to farm sustainably. 
  • Fairtrade & Organic certifications – Fairtrade supports farmers to reduce their impact in many ways. We’re 100% Fairtrade and 65% certified organic. 
  • Packaging – by changing materials, our packaging is now 97% recyclable. 
  • Suppliers – We gather carbon emission data from suppliers every year to build a picture of our footprint .  We share with them information on the Science-Based Targets initiative and ways to reduce carbon emissions. 

As a fellow B Corp, we’re really curious about your journey as the first UK coffee company to be awarded B Corp certification, so do tell us… 

Q: What motivated Cafédirect to pursue B Corp certification back in 2018 and what impact has this certification had on your company’s mission and values?

We joined a movement that acknowledges how businesses, including us, have a role and responsibility beyond just chasing profits to measure success. We think it’s important to stand up for our beliefs. That’s why we support a certification that confirms businesses are doing good, making it easier for consumers to make positive choices. Now, lots of coffee companies have joined and got certified too.

Being a B Corp also challenges us to keep improving on our score, and focus on where it’s needed most.  We’re currently scoring ‘Outstanding’ but there’s always room for improvement. 

Q: How does being a B Corp influence Cafédirect’s decision-making processes and commitment to social and environmental responsibility? 

We’ve always been committed, but B Corp certification spurs us to consider how to improve in areas we’re not as strong in. By explaining how to improve scores, B Corp builds a case for taking on new ways of working and projects.

Q: As a B Corp, how does Cafédirect collaborate with other certified companies or organisations to drive positive change in the industry? 

We are members of various groups to influence change.  We’re a member of Business Declares, a non-profit that uses the collective force of businesses to advocate for better governmental environmental action.  They recently received national press for their ‘Queue for Climate and Nature’ where hundreds of business reps came to show their support for better policies for business sustainability. We also chair the British Coffee Association Sustainability Committee to work on practical ways to make our industry better for the environment. We also try to engage with other B Corp’s in our procurement, run competitions with like-minded companies, and share tips on sustainable lifestyles.

Q: How does Cafédirect engage with its community, both locally and globally, to promote sustainability and social impact? 

The Education sector is an important part of promoting sustainability and social impact. We work with a number of UK Universities and give talks about business sustainability and support student projects.  

Our Better for Everyone team in Yorkshire exists to help people in our local community. We support local charities and help people find jobs through an apprenticeship programme. This year, we’re doing The Three Peaks challenge to raise money for a local charity. We’re also planning a nature conservation day with the Peak District National Park Foundation and donate 20p from each pack of Dark Peak coffee sold.

Q: What challenges has Cafédirect faced in its sustainability efforts and how have you overcome them? 

Finding recyclable packaging for our roast and ground coffee was challenging.  Coffee bags need to protect the coffee from sunlight, moisture and oxygen to keep it tasting its best. Innovation in the industry was needed so it took a while to find what we were looking for. Eventually we found a company  that had developed a pioneering award-winning recyclable solution. 

Q: Looking ahead, what are Cafédirect’s goals and aspirations in terms of sustainability and social impact, and how do you plan to achieve them? 

Our big goal is to make sure every smallholder coffee farmer in our network earns a decent living by 2030. It’s a tough challenge, but we’re ready for it. For the coffee industry to really change, all companies need to pay a fair price for coffee. That’s the only way farmers can have a decent standard of living.

Another goal of ours is to build stronger coffee farming communities. We team up with our sister organisation, Producers Direct, which is run by farmers. They train young people and women, offering various opportunities to help them succeed in farming.

Thanks so much for chatting with us today Lauren, we loved working with Cafédirect and it’s always wonderful to catch up with the B Corp™ community!  

If you could finish by saying one thing about the benefits of being a B Corp to our readers, what would it be?  

Belonging to a community of peers who share similar values is really inspiring and supportive. The certification process also helps us find important issues, guiding us to improve our model each year. 

Lauren Morris, Cafedirect