What’s the secret recipe for the best coffee in the world? While many coffeeshops would never dare to reveal the answer, Higher Grounds Trading Company doesn’t mind sharing it. Ready? High quality coffee is sustainable only through a human-centric approach. Centered on a deep desire to benefit coffee farming communities, the team at Higher Grounds believes that sustainable coffee begins with and returns to growers, whose wellbeing is the heart of coffee quality. Read on to find out more about Sara and Jennifer and their Traverse City, MI-based B Corp.
The story of how we got started: “Our mission is to confront inequality and cultivate human potential within specialty coffee from an integrated and valued supply chain. Our owner and co-founder Chris was inspired by relationships with coffee producers of the Maya Vinic cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico during his time there about 15 years ago. Wanting to stay connected and motivated by a desire to create a partnership that was beneficial for everyone involved, Chris decided to purchase Maya Vinic’s green coffee and start Higher Grounds back in Michigan. We have purchased coffee from Maya Vinic every year since then, and our business model is based on long-term relationships like that one.”
Work hard, stay rooted: “We love working for a company that has its roots in relationships and its vision centered on making the world a better place for coffee growers, with a balanced care for people, planet, and profit. It’s gratifying to work within a community of people who care deeply about the impact we can create through our trading model. Identifying as a B Corp provides us with a common language to inform our daily decisions and culture. ”
What has been our biggest success so far? “B Corp certification!”
How we’re able to “B The Change” by biking: “Beans by Bike! We deliver our coffee by bicycle within city limits, all year round. We also use donated ceramic mugs as our “to go” cups, keeping paper and plastic out of the waste stream. In 2017 we sold 27,728 drinks in our coffee bar — that’s how many paper cups we avoided!
Here are some stats on Beans by Bike:
Miles delivered by bike 2017 = 221
Pounds delivered by bike 2017 = 11209.88
Miles delivered by bike since we began tracking (2008) = 4306.8
Pounds delivered by bike since we began tracking (2008) = 180620.28″
If you want to become a B Corp… “It is a useful tool to use to guide decisions that you are faced with every day when growing a business: choosing supplies and suppliers, hiring practices, employee benefits, systems for tracking energy use, waste management, possible certifications (ex: Organic, Bicycle Friendly Business, LEED)… the list goes on. Being a B Corp helps frame every choice you make and every goal you set for improvement. ”
Why B Corps are destined to keep growing: “Research shows that more and more consumers are seeking out products from companies they view as sustainable and good-for-the-world. That fits right into the B Corp model, and I believe the list of B Corps will grow rapidly as companies choose to demonstrate that they value the environment, their local communities, and their suppliers’ communities in addition to their financial bottom line.”
About Sara Theisen and Jennifer Yeatts, Production Manager and Director of Coffee, for Higher Grounds Coffee
Sara Theisen is Production Manager for Higher Grounds Coffee. Along with her husband Nic, she also owns Loma Farm, a small-scale vegetable and flower farm in Michigan’s Leelanau County.
Jennifer Yeatts is Director of Coffee for Higher Grounds, where she handles green coffee purchasing, quality control, and training.