Our Ethics and Values
The planet is our most vital resource. This is why we must do all we can to run a more sustainable business, minimising our impact where possible and to responsibly grow without compromising resources for future generations.
Cafeology was founded in 2003 with the core value of “100% ethical in everything we do”. This promise is intimately linked to sustainability which is why we look very closely at ‘everything we do’ in order to identify potential sustainable business practises. We proudly embed sustainability and social responsibility into our supply chain, processes, operations and developments to ensure we are doing our best to face ever changing issue of sustainability.
Sustainability has always been at the heart of the company and this is evidenced by winning the natural capital award at the 2015 Guardian Sustainable Business Awards and a nomination at the finals of the Business and Biodiversity category in the European Business Awards for the Environment. Naturally as a company we have developed and evolved and continued to move forward as a SME, keeping sustainability at the heart of the business.
Our largest current undertaking is our pledge to become carbon neutral by the end of 2025. As we everything we do we want to do this properly, and by not cutting corners, by reducing what we can and purchasing high quality offsets for what we cannot.
We are fully committed to achieving this goal, which you can read more about here.
We began directly sourcing coffee following our founder, Bryan Unkles’ trip to Costa Rica in 2008. It proved to be a crucial trip which paved the way of how we do business today. Striking up long and sustainable partnerships with producers across the globe.
The importance of this practice cannot be underestimated, and no finer example is our relationship with Roberto Mata who Bryan met on his inaugural trip 15 years and today still remains our partner for our Costa Rican speciality coffee today.
Read our 11,000 word case study on Roberto’s farm and the challenges he faces in the box below!
The principles of direct trade, sometimes referred to as relationship coffee, have been imbedded in our business practices across our supply chain upholding our values of long standing partnerships.
By forming such strong bonds not only builds trust between both parties but also allows us to develop and share working practices together.
The passion and knowledge such relationships bring is unmeasurable, as we have seen first-hand the challenges our farmers face as climate change appears to be taking its toll quickly in the coffee growing regions throughout the world.
We are extremely proud of our long standing partnerships with producers across Latin America as we all seek some stability in an ever changing planet.
Within our Cafeology range, we also have many accredited coffees including Fairtrade, triple certified and even bird friendly. Bird-friendly coffee, for example, contains organic and Smithsonian certified coffee that is grown in the shade of native tree canopy that provides critical habitat for migratory bird species.
In 2018, we moved into our BREEAM (the world’s leading science-based sustainable building certification) Very Good accredited warehouse situated on the brownfield site of Blackburn Meadow power station’s iconic cooling towers. With easy access to the M1, this well maintained building has become our headquarters, hosting not only our warehouse and roastery but also our barista training campus and offices. Since occupying the site we have continued to develop our facilities creating a clean, modern and functional building with extra office space made from two upcycled coffee shipping containers.
Roasting coffee is a large part of our operation. To reduce our impact, our Diedrich IR-12 and CR-35 coffee roasters were purchased new and use infrared burners for more efficient and less impactful roasting compared to older, more traditional roasters. We are also investigating heat capture technology to further enhance our carbon reductions.
We pride ourselves on our excellent hand delivery service but are conscious of our fleet’s carbon footprint. Therefore, we are committed to electrifying our fleet and have installed electric charging ports to charge them with clean energy from our rooftop solar panels. Our most recent additions include a Volkswagen ID Buzz van and Mini Electric. As electric van technology becomes more viable for longer distances, our delivery footprint will become a thing of the past.
Every little helps too. Whether it’s remembering to switch off lights, only filling kettles to required levels, not running coffee machines all day, using cloud-based documents to reducing paper printing, or even wrapping up before turning on the heating – no job is too small when it comes to running a sustainable business.
This “just do one thing” mindset continues outside where we encourage wildlife with our bird feeders and upcycled planters filled with home-made compost and pollinator-friendly flowers. We also have our own bee hives because we want to do our part when it comes to combating declining bee populations.
Waste reduction has always been at the forefront of our minds and in 2018 we launched our zero-waste packaging option. This concept means that we deliver coffee to local customers inside reusable, air-tight plastic containers, we then swap fresh containers for previously delivered empty containers. Once our driver returns to our site, we sterilise the containers ready for reuse another day. By delivering coffee in reusable containers, many of our local customers avoid the need for coffee bags or cardboard.
In 2019 we continued our reduction trend with the purchase of a commercial cardboard shredder. Our cardboard waste, and cardboard collected from customers during deliveries, is shredded into webbing for internal packaging. Consequently, our shredder completely phased out the need for potato starch packing foam. Additionally, by reusing cardboard as shredded packaging, this lowers the impact of each piece of card by gaining extra uses before recycling.
In 2022 we made the switch to fully recyclable LDPE (low density polyethylene) monoplastic bags, so there is no need to remove the valves before recycling your coffee bags.
Roasting coffee leaves behind hessian sacks (used to transport raw coffee around the world) and a co-product called coffee chaff (the paper-thin husk of raw coffee which expels during roasting). Therefore, in 2021/22 we created two circular economies involving these products. Historically, we upcycled hessian sacks into “bags for life” or donated them to customers. Our stockpile continued to grow, so we partnered with K & H Ellis jute recyclers who 100% recycle our sacks. Meanwhile, besides composting chaff ourselves, we give back to our community through a network of local allotments who are happy to mulch and compost our chaff. Both our hessian sacks and chaff are delivered as we pass by on our regular deliver routes, to avoid unnecessary mileage.
All of our staff are wholeheartedly committed to doing their best for the environment. Affectionally dubbed “Teamology” our team all align with the companies ethics and values.
As part of our Environmental Awareness Programme and pledge to become carbon neutral, our Sustainability Manager hosted an initial presentation which outlined Cafeology’s goals and dispelled myths surrounding climate change. Everyone understands the gravity of what we want to achieve and the presentation provided an open forum where there was no such thing as a stupid question. Every subsequent new member of Teamology is also given the same presentation, to ensure all staff embrace Cafeology’s sustainability goals.
Sustainability also extends socially, both locally and at origin. Locally, our coffee chaff allotment circular economy engages directly with our community to utilise roasting co-products through composting and mulching. Additionally, we worked with The Source and Autism Plus to hire a full-time apprentice into our “Teamology”.
We are also an active member of the Sheffield Sustainability Network and the South Yorkshire Sustainability Support Consortium, groups of likeminded local businesses that meet to discuss sustainability, learn and share ideas. At origin, our close relationships producers allows cooperation regarding sustainability. We engage, at every stage possible, to provide technical assistance and advice in order to support and encourage sustainable supply chain practices.
At Cafeology we believe that sustainability should be and is at the heart of all that we do as the small things matter accumulate and grow to provide a long term sustainable option.
This can be evidenced by a number of sustainability awards including;
Guardian Sustainable Business Awards
RSPCA/Daily Mirror Animal Hero Awards
Outstanding Business of the Year