B Corp | Behind The Label

B Corp | Behind The Label

Becky Wooden 9 mins Read

This month we’re going behind the label of B Corp to unpack what it means to us at Climpsons and share the reality of our experience achieving this certification. To put it bluntly, it’s not easy. Working towards a B Corp application is a thorough and eye-opening process, designed to make you question the ways you do business and make improvements so as to have the greatest positive impact for both people and planet. We’ve certainly learnt a lot along the way.

Why is B Corp important for us at Climpsons?

B Corp provides a guideline and a framework to work towards in sustainable practice. While there are many other ways to work towards sustainability without necessarily holding the B Corp badge, we believe working collaboratively under the label can only bring better outcomes for our industry. As a wholesale, as well as retail, business we believe we should be showing exemplary standards of sustainable practice, so that our wholesale family can trust and share the knowledge that their coffee has been imported and roasted under the best possible conditions for both our producing partners and team here in London.

The number of organisations in the UK holding a B Corp certification has doubled in the last 2 years and we’ve seen many fellow coffee industry friends secure their B Corp status in the last few years. This is a great sign of a positive shift towards sustainable practice becoming the norm  and an opportunity to share the knowledge we gain through the process. We recently hosted a panel discussion event with our friends Lisa from Dear Green Coffee in Glasgow and Hols from North Star Coffee Roasters in Leeds. We loved hearing the perspective of other sustainably minded coffee businesses to share ideas and discuss what’s worked (and hasn’t!) in our unique B Corp journeys. In our opinion, the more businesses that move towards B Corp, the better for the specialty coffee industry as a whole.

Let’s look at the impact areas of a B Corp application

As an organisation moving towards a B Corp certification for the first time, or re-submitting an existing certificate, there are 6 ‘impact areas’ within which to assess your impact. This is a chance to specialise, choosing to work towards the impact areas that are of greatest relevance to your team, product and output.

At Climpsons, we chose to specialise in the three impact areas of Workers, Community and Carbon Emissions

These three facets of our business sit at the heart of our values and are all things that we felt we had a fairly good grasp on before the B Corp application. We have always taken pride in our ethical sourcing practices and repeat purchase model, as well as our involvement in charitable work in our community. We know our Loring roaster has the best sustainability credentials going, but by analysing our carbon emissions in real time we’ve had the chance to assess the ways to use this innovative equipment most efficiently. The B Corp application became a chance to deep dive and question our existing practices to critically analyse what we’re doing and make improvements going forward.

Let’s take a look at what these three impact categories really mean to us at Climpsons.

  1. Workers

    This is all about the Climpsons team. Under a wider term, we might refer to it as our ‘workplace culture’. What is it like to work at Climpsons? And how can we continually improve our culture?

    Workplace culture: refers to the attitudes, beliefs, and values within a workplace that influence many aspects of workers’ experiences, such as those related to workers’ sense of satisfaction, well-being, mental health, belonging, shared purpose, psychological safety, engagement, and happiness.” Impact Topic: Workplace Culture.

    A mindset towards a positive and impactful workplace culture begins in our hiring process. We look to advertise using a wide range of platforms, from coffee specific job boards to our local job centre. This means our vacancies are seen by a more diverse group of applicants, attracting those that may not have experience within specialty coffee but could have just the right skills we are looking for to apply for roles. Applications are viewed with a non-exclusionary eye, looking past the words and graphic design skills on a CV by making the time to arrange a phone call when it feels more appropriate to get a better feel for the person. This deliberate decision making has led to the diverse backgrounds we have at the company today. We are particularly proud of the fact that more than half of our workers are women and this figure is also reflected in management roles. Ways of measuring our impact come from gaining an understanding of the makeup of our team and their needs, job satisfaction surveys, and keeping metrics on staff retention and job rate growth.

    For our employees, we seek to make specialty coffee a life-long career. This means on-going training and development as well as regular check-ins with a manager to set goals and create an open floor to discuss any issues that might be occurring at home or work. We are a London Living Wage employer. We aim to take into account the diverse needs of our employees. This means being open and flexible and working with everyone in our team on a case by case basis rather than creating strict rules that could deter those with particular needs from working with us. As with all things B Corp, there is always room for improvement and we seek to constantly evaluate and improve these processes as we learn. 

We’ve worked closely with the social enterprise Well Grounded who offer training in specialty coffee, work placements and job specific qualifications. Many trainees who participate in their programmes have had difficulty finding employment in the past or have particular challenges or needs. In 2023, we offered 96 hours of work placement to 3 trainees on their programme. Climpsons MD Nicole is also part of their advisory board, teaching a further education course for Well Grounded graduates on all things sustainability in coffee.

Our worker impact also includes our charitable work. We have recently allotted 4 to 8 hours per person per year towards volunteer work for each of our employees. As a company we took a total of 350 hours of volunteer work last year, to the value of £7,000 donation in-kind through staff time. These included time supporting the valuable services at  Whitechapel Mission, 2 days creating an outdoor space for the children at Queensbridge Primary, coffee donations with Kelly’s Cause mental health awareness week and our fundraising trip to support Blue Marine Foundation. This year our aim is for every employee to make use of this scheme.

  1. Community

This impact area relates to our global community and the on-going positive relationship we have with our coffee producing partners. To achieve B Corp certification, the coffees we buy must be traceable and proven to support the economic growth of coffee growing communities. So much of this comes down to pricing structure - and this is certainly the most important factor for our producers. Paying a price that sits significantly above the C price means that producers can make positive changes in their own businesses by creating even better conditions for their employees and reinvesting in technology, innovation, and further growth.

Our impact report centred around our model of repeat purchasing. Currently around 85% of our coffees are bought through this model year on year with the average length of our relationship with producers or importing partners now sitting at 7 years. We have worked with Daterra in Brazil, the source of more than 50% of the coffee we roast, since 2012. This creates a certainty for our producers (particularly in times of economic insecurity) and a confidence in a repeat income that will allow them to reinvest, whether this be through increasing their own job growth or expanding the size and scale of their production. 

Other coffee businesses might go to lots of places, shake hands with producers and really rinse the photo opportunities, only to then never buy the coffee again. We do the opposite. This means we’ve reduced the amount of origin trips we take as a business (although these are, of course, valuable at times and we’ve got a visit to our partners in Brazil planned later this year) but instead commit to paying a fair price consistently, year on year. 

The economics are key here and integral to the B Corp project. There has been a historical trajectory of coffee businesses presenting themselves as a charity mission, reinforcing a colonial narrative while exploiting less developed nations by paying a low price for coffee and profiting from their story and assets. We look to empower the producers we work with through a fair pricing structure that allows economic development across the supply chain and seek to communicate this to our customers the way we market our coffees. Empower, not exploit.

  1. Carbon Emissions

The B Corp application process asked us to simply ‘submit our carbon emissions’. What a can of worms this opened. Just how did we go about tracking our company's carbon emissions? We needed the help of an expert to get this project started and recruited the help of Tiago at Ecofye. A specialist in collecting accurate emissions data using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, he set to tracking our emissions data in real-time in an industry first. While many companies will collect this information as an annual audit, we decided to work with real-time data meaning we can assess and change our processes through the year and clearly see changes as they happen.

In 2022, we began to track our carbon emissions at our three main locations - our Leyton roastery, the cafe on Broadway Market and our Head Office and Training Academy in London Fields. The majority of our business emissions sit under the definition of Scope 3 emissions, coming from the producing and importing of the coffee itself (94%), dairy and alternative milks used at our cafe, packaging and delivery of our wholesale and webshop coffee, business travel and commuting. 

with the rest of our carbon footprint composed of a combination of Scope 1 and 2 emissions such as energy usage at our locations and  gas to heat our roaster. 

Tracking this in real time we can see the impact of our decision making on our emissions profile. A significant shift was seen with the introduction of our new, bigger and better roaster the Loring Smartroaster Peregrine S70 in 2022. This has allowed us to roast in notably larger quantities, roasting more coffee in less time and no longer needing to burn carbon-emitting gas through the whole day in order to roast the volume of coffee we had on order using a smaller drum. This represents the powerful impact of economies of scale. It is our consistent economic growth through a higher volume of coffee bought and sold that has allowed us to make this positive impact. Here we see the interconnectedness of economic and environmental improvements, side by side.

We have a lot more to share on our big carbon emissions project, with a summary of our 2023 emissions figures being released soon. We’ll be sharing an analysis of this in our next blog in the coming weeks and sharing the impact you have as a customer to reduce our emissions.


This work represents just a small fraction of the huge job that goes into achieving and maintaining B Corp certification behind the label. This is an ongoing project and an ever-evolving way to do business. This is just the beginning.

This year we formed a Sustainability Taskforce, a hit team of Climpsons across all of our departments committed to making changes in the ways we work with the goal of improving the sustainable workplace culture we constantly work towards, maintaining our equitable ongoing relationships with producers and reducing our daily carbon emissions.

Are you or do you work for a business that has achieved B Corp status? We would love to hear your experience of applying for B Corp and how it has impacted your business decision making since. Get in touch with admin@climpsonandsons.com to share your experience and start the conversation.

Climpsons Journal