What is B Corp Coffee?

what is b corp coffee?

B Corp Coffee refers to coffee produced and sold by companies certified as B Corporations (B Corps). B Corp certification is granted to companies that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. These companies are committed to using business as a force for good, balancing profit and purpose to create a positive impact on their workers, communities, and the environment.

The concept of B Corps originated in the early 2000s when the founders of B Lab, a nonprofit organization, noticed a growing interest in using business as a means to create social and environmental impact. B Lab established the B Corp certification to identify and certify companies dedicated to this goal.

The B Corp Certification Process

To become a certified B Corp, a company must undergo a rigorous assessment process conducted by B Lab. This process includes:

  1. B Impact Assessment (BIA): Companies must complete the B Impact Assessment, a comprehensive evaluation of a company’s impact on its workers, customers, community, and the environment. The assessment examines areas like governance, workers’ rights, community engagement, environmental sustainability, and customer practices.
  2. Score Requirement: To qualify for certification, a company must score at least 80 out of 200 points on the BIA. This high threshold ensures that only companies with significant positive impact qualify.
  3. Legal Accountability: Companies must amend their legal governing documents to require their board of directors to balance profit and purpose by considering the impact of their decisions on all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
  4. Transparency: Certified B Corps must publish a public report detailing their social and environmental performance, assessed by B Lab’s standards.
  5. Certification Fee: Companies pay an annual fee based on their revenue to maintain their B Corp certification.
B Corp Coffee Companies

Coffee companies that achieve B Corp certification are recognized for their commitment to sustainable and ethical practices throughout their supply chain, from sourcing beans to selling the final product. These companies focus on various areas:

  1. Sustainable Sourcing: B Corp coffee companies often prioritize direct trade, purchasing coffee beans directly from farmers at fair prices. This approach supports smallholder farmers, promotes sustainable farming practices, and improves traceability. An example is Exilior Coffee, an Oregon-based B Corp that sources its coffee directly from Kenyan farmers, with the goal of restoring small Kenyan coffee farms.
  2. Environmental Stewardship: These companies implement practices to reduce their carbon footprint, like using renewable energy, reducing waste, and minimizing water usage. They often invest in reforestation and conservation projects in coffee-growing regions.
  3. Social Impact: B Corp certification also emphasizes positive social impact, including fair labor practices, good working conditions, and community development initiatives. These companies often support education, healthcare, and infrastructure projects in the communities where they operate.
  4. Quality and Consumer Engagement: B Corp coffee companies typically focus on producing high-quality products while educating consumers about the importance of sustainable and ethical consumption. They often engage customers through transparency, sharing the story behind the coffee and the impact of their purchase.
The Importance of B Corp Coffee

The significance of B Corp coffee in the broader market lies in its model of sustainable business practices. By prioritizing ethical sourcing, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility, B Corp coffee companies demonstrate that it is possible to build a successful business while creating positive change in the world. They serve as examples of how the coffee industry can contribute to solving social and environmental issues.

Consumers increasingly prefer products that align with their values, leading to a growing demand for B Corp certified products, including coffee. This trend reflects a broader shift towards conscious consumerism, where buyers seek out companies that contribute positively to society and the environment.

Challenges and Criticisms

While the B Corp movement has gained momentum, it is not without challenges and criticisms. Some critics argue that the certification process might favor larger companies with the resources to navigate the complex assessment and certification process. Small businesses, despite potentially having strong social and environmental practices, may find it difficult to afford the certification fee and the administrative burden of the assessment process.

Additionally, there is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness and authenticity of corporate social responsibility initiatives, including B Corp certification. Some skeptics question whether these initiatives lead to meaningful change or if they are sometimes used as marketing tools to enhance a company’s image (a practice known as “greenwashing”).


B Corp Coffee represents a movement within the coffee industry and the broader business community towards more ethical, sustainable, and socially responsible business practices. The B Corp certification serves as a tangible measure of a company’s commitment to these values, providing consumers with a reliable indicator of the positive impact their purchasing choices can have. Despite the challenges and criticisms, the growth of B Corp certified companies, including those in the coffee sector, signals a promising shift towards a more sustainable and equitable global economy.

Scroll to Top