Coffee By Design has been in search of that perfect cup of coffee for more than 20 years. Specifically, the top 1% of Arabica coffee beans that meet high standards for sustainability. Created by owners Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear, this B Corp offers a collection of coffees for everyone in the community. This includes the Portland, Maine community as well as those around the world. What are they brewing up next? Read on to find out more about Mary Allen, Alan, and their Portland, ME B Corp.
Our ongoing mission for a good cup of joe.
“Our mission is to provide the best quality coffee, educate our community about specialty coffee, and use our power as a small business to move forward initiatives that support people and the planet, improving how we all live together — locally and worldwide. We support our mission on a daily basis through the lens of the following values:
CBD views sustainability in our business holistically. We commit to and continue to expand our support of social change and the arts. We are stewards of the health of our planet and of our fellow human. Our company bases its decisions on this ethos, whether sourcing a coffee or considering a new wholesale account. We believe that being selective is better. Therefore, we only choose to work with businesses who share our same standards and beliefs in environmental, social and economic sustainability. We believe that specialty coffee should be understandable to all who enjoy great coffee and that ‘everyone is welcome at the table.’ We feel, now more than ever, that how we conduct our business makes a difference.
Alan Spear, my co-owner, and I started Coffee By Design in Portland, Maine. This was during a time when the city was experiencing a 40% vacancy rate. We had a passion for coffee, and a love of business, and Portland. Creating Coffee By Design allowed us to combine those loves while supporting, and helping, to create a thriving community. One of our goals was to create a community gathering spot, where people could engage with one another and enjoy a great cup of coffee.”
We’ve been in business for nearly 25 years, and everything has come full circle.
“We are approaching our 25th anniversary in 2019. We’ve had the good fortune to enjoy a range of successes as we have grown. In particular, we are especially proud of a number of initiatives supporting our local and global economy. CBD works to offer scholarships for girls on farms in India and to help women receive direct pay for their labor in Burundi. Our efforts have come full circle, and we are now able to bring a piece of home in a cup of coffee to asylum seekers in our city. We watched Portland grow from when we helped create Portland Buy Local in a downturn economy. This year, Portland is Bon Appetit’s top restaurant city in America.”
How the Brundtland Report allows us to walk the sustainability walk.
“We follow the Brundtland Report’s definition of sustainability. The report highlighted the interconnectedness of the environment, economic growth and social equity. From the beginning, we have walked the walk in terms of building social equity and community. We opened our first coffeehouse in an area of Portland that was better known for adult theaters. Years later, we have been credited for serving as something as an economic stimulus in the forgotten neighborhoods. This is where we have chosen to open coffeehouses to serve the neighborhood.
The belief that you can grow a business and remain focused on sustainable practices is central to our business practices. As part of our commitment to sustainability for our company, our employees, our farmers and our customers, we became a Certified B Corporation®. B Corp is a third party, transparent way for us to hold ourselves accountable to our beliefs.”
What allows us to “B The Change” each day?
If you want to become a B Corp…
“It’s great to have guidelines for creating a socially responsible business. Certifying as a B Corp is comprehensive. It gives you the opportunity to establish benchmarks along the way. As a new business, you can look at where you started, what your goals are, and remain on track to being socially responsible.”
It’s wonderful to be a B Corporation!
“We are early adopters of the B Corporation entity. It’s great to see the number of businesses grow that see value in third party recognition. These businesses also understand the upside of becoming B Corp certified. Being a B Corp benefits us all as we become better corporate citizens. ”
About Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear, Owners, Coffee By Design
Mary Allen Lindemann
Mary Allen Lindemann is the Co-Owner and Community Builder of Coffee By Design (CBD). CBD is a Maine owned and operated specialty coffee roastery/retailer. Mary Allen co-founded the company with her partner, Alan Spear, in Portland, Maine in 1994. Committed to changing the world, one cup of coffee at a time, CBD has five coffeehouses and a micro roastery. This provides over 500 wholesale customers with sustainably sourced, craft roasted coffee. In addition to serving some of the world’s finest coffee, Coffee By Design commits to running a sustainable business dedicated to the arts, the environment, and the community. This community is in Maine as well as around the world at origin where they buy their coffee.
Mary Allen is dedicated to ensuring that Coffee By Design stays true to its Maine roots. The B Corp commits to giving back to the local and international communities. Part of her job is to make sure the company continues to be a “good corporate citizen” while making social change happen in a unique and meaningful way. With regards to coffee, Mary Allen believes “it is an honor to represent the many farmers we buy from by serving a great cup of coffee while sharing the story behind the bean.” She hopes the work she does makes a difference now and in the years to come.
Alan Spear’s B.S. in landscape architecture from Cornell University led him initially to a decade-long career working at several landscape architecture, land planning and engineering firms. Today, those skills and mindset are put to use shaping plans for Coffee By Design and specifically the roastery, in particular with its regard to its impact on the environment.
Alan discovered coffee living in Seattle during the early days of specialty coffee. His Coffee By Design partner, Mary Allen, was equally influenced by the Seattle coffee culture and through her interest he began to find himself curious about the expansive world of coffee. He could often be found in coffee bars. After reading Coffee 101 by Kenneth Davids, Alan began to educate himself in the art and science of specialty coffee.
Alan quickly learned that coffee’s quality is only as good as the coffee bean and the operator of the equipment. His passion for great coffee, enjoyment of people and business led him, with Mary Allen, to the creation of Coffee By Design in 1994. Alan focuses on the future of Coffee By Design. He is searching for the next great coffee, developing relationships with wholesale accounts, guiding the roastery team and working with importers and farmers and coffee professionals at origin.