Did you know that March is B Corp month?
That’s why we wanted to spotlight four B corps raising the bar in the drinks industry--from farmer-friendly coffee to craft beers that are a force for good. These B Corps are putting an important message in their bottles and cups.
But first, you might be wondering…
What is a B Corp?
B Corps are sustainable businesses that make efforts to support people’s welfare and safeguard the planet. They may do so by minimizing waste and pollution, designing sustainable products, supporting employees with fair wages or giving back to their communities.
Not only do they build trust for customers, they attract loyal partners and employees while building a thriving community. That’s why many businesses think beyond the profit and loss sheet.
That said, it’s tough for businesses to reassure customers and other interested groups that their actions have made a real impact. That’s where B corp certification comes in.
The term “B Corp” usually refers to a business that has been assessed and approved by B Lab, a non-profit that grants B Corp certification. Upon certification, these businesses proudly display the circled B logo, which you may have seen on product labels or company websites.
B Corps also differ from benefit corporations in that the former refers to a certification, while the latter refers to a legal business structure.
Tip: Search for the the B in a circle logo. It shows that a business cares about workers and the environment. Definitely refill your bottle or tumbler with ethical drinks from B Corps.
B Corp Certification
B corp certification is a third-party certification showing that businesses have met high sustainability standards and taken appropriate actions to report their activities to the public.
Currently, over 2,500 businesses are certified B Corps. They're spread across roughly 130 different industries in 50 countries.
To earn certification, B corps undergo a full impact assessment that looks at employees, environment, products and governance. They submit legal documents verifying purpose-based business standards by the board of directors. Finally, they meet transparency requirements by publishing their impact report on bcorporation.net.
You can easily look up the overall impact assessment ranking of different B corps and check in on their activities using the B Corporation Directory. Some popular businesses you may not realize are B corps are: Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia and Kickstarter.
B Lab also offers a free Impact Assessment tool online for non-B Corp businesses to explore their sustainability impact.
Sometimes people confuse B corp certification with the benefit corporation business structure. A benefit corporation is a legal business structure that some states offer alongside S-corps, C-corps and LLCs. Currently, nineteen different states allow businesses to be established as benefit corporations.
Similar to certified B corporations, benefit corporations take the environment and social welfare into account in their business operations as for-profit businesses entities.
However, a business does not need a special certification to become a benefit corporation. Instead, this classification requires the company’s shareholders to consider environmental and social wellbeing as additional measures of success alongside the profit motive.
Here are some B Corps from around the country doing great things in the beverage industry. Find them and fill up with their excellent brews!
B Corp Coffee
Minneapolis-based Peace Coffee is a coffee roaster offering a variety of roasts. The name Peace Coffee came after they partnered with the Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu to sell Guatemalan coffee. This came after the 1996 Guatemalan Peace Accords.
Peace coffee was the first certified B Corporation established in Minnesota. Its coffee is 100% fair-trade certified, organic coffee. The mission-based company has always pursued a powerful mission to support small-scale coffee growers.
Peace coffee is an outgrowth of the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, a non-profit with the mission to support family commodity-farmers in achieving profitability.
To create long-lasting trading partnerships, they co-founded Co-op coffee in 1999, an organization that connects farmers to sellers in the U.S. and Canada while supporting transparent and fair coffee trading practices. Its first Minneapolis retail outlet opened in 2010.
In support of the environment, Peace coffee contributes to the Climate, Carbon and Coffee Fund. It also delivers a third of its coffee by bicycle. The company also uses a green building as its headquarters that relies on geothermal heating, solar power and a rooftop garden with beehives for efficiency.
If you’re in the Minneapolis area, you can visit one of five Peace Coffee retail outlets, or you can order their roasts online.
"We're proud to bring our customers great coffee from great farmers — sourced, roasted, and delivered in the most responsible way we know how." -- Augusto Caniero, Founder of Nossa Familia
Nossa Familia is Oregon’s first Certified B Corp coffee roaster. It serves and sells certified organic coffee.
Nossa Familia’s founder, Augusto Carneiro, came from a family of coffee growers in Brazil: “Our principles and tradition around sustainability begin with my family in Brazil, who have been growing coffee since the 1890s and remain the primary source for Nossa Familia's coffee to this day.”
This long-standing coffee growing tradition gives the company a strong awareness of the importance of preserving the environment and soil for future generations.
Caneiro established Nossa Familia in Portland, Oregon in 2004 to import his family’s coffee. Along the way, the company has developed relationships with other smallholder coffee growers in diverse regions of the world.
The business invests ten percent of its profits in giving back to non-profits, partners and charitable causes both in Portland and in the coffee growing regions of its suppliers.
The business operates entirely on renewable wind energy and it uses closed loop Loring roasting machines. They package their coffee in compostable bags and they offer a $0.25 discount to customers who bring a refillable cup.
Find Nossa Familia coffee at shops in Portland, Oregon, or downtown LA. You can also order from them online.
B Corp Beer
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Inspired by a trip through Belgium in 1988, New Belgium Brewing Company grew out of the true DIY spirit of its co-founders Kim Jordan and Jim Lebesch. Their first batches of beer were brewed in their basement starting in 1991. As pioneers of the craft beer movement in the U.S., they created their well known Fat Tire and Abbey Ales in the early 1990s.
From day one, the company has pursued business as a “force for good.” Some of its key initiatives include protecting land and water, climate change action and promoting social equity. These values are reflected in the company’s history.
After establishing its own in-house sustainability department in 2003, the company installed solar panels and a wastewater treatment facility. By 2009, the company had installed the largest solar array in Colorado (at that time).
In another milestone, New Belgium Brewing Company became one-hundred percent worker-owned in 2012. Though its ownership changed in late 2019, it remains proud of this period in which its employees built up the company.
The spirit of the company remains as personalized and visionary as it was at its inception. Its vendors share its values, its methods of sourcing are fully disclosed on its website and it promotes industry-wide producer responsibility for packaging waste.
Buy New Belgium’s craft beers online or find them in stores nationwide.
B Corp Spirits
Fair Game Beverage Co.
"Fair Game is a mission driven company. As a value added processor in our food shed we are able to take a leadership role in building a restorative local economy."--Lyle Estill, Founder
Based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, Fair Game Beverage Co. uses small-batch craft distillery to cultivate a range of exceptional farm-to-drink spirits. To create their rums and brandies, they distill small batches in their alembic copper pot still, which they transfer to oak barrels.
Fair Game blends local tradition with craftsmanship in every bottle. This is apparent from their Flying Pepper Vodka, which sources local tobago peppers from small farms in North Carolina to their Appalachian Apple Brandy, a famous regional drink.
Fair Game also hosts tasting events at its tasting room in the Chatham Beverage District of Pittsboro, North Carolina. Featuring a wide array of spirits, craft beers and fine foods from local companies, the mission of Fair Game is embedded in supporting its local community.
Visit Fair Game’s website or schedule an event at their tasting room to learn more.