It's not just a buzzword to us. Our vision is to integrate sustainable development into every aspect of our business, rather than simply putting a checkmark next to the box for ‘sustainability’.
At Climpson & Sons, sustainability is about striking a balance between three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection. These elements are interconnected and all are crucial for the prosperity of individuals and societies as well as the success of our business and industry as a whole.
How do we make decisions as a business that impacts our people, our environment and our industry? Over the years we’ve taken many steps to improve our sustainability and accountability, but the journey is not over. We are not perfect, but as a business we have evolved to ask more questions and to know where and how we source coffee and products, finding the best solutions for waste management and reducing emissions, making changes to and educating ourselves on our products, their lifecycle and creating a culture of awareness in the business.
We aim to share lessons of best practice by collaborating within our industry to achieve our goals and create a platform to share positive inspiration for people and the planet. Sustainability is a constant review of our current practices, actively seeking ways to improve the impact we have as a business both socially and environmentally.
Drinking a cup of coffee has many implications. With so many challenges to sustainability, where do we focus our attention? Here is what we have done and will continue to do:
Paying a Fair Price
You may have noticed we often buy our coffees from the same farms and co-ops year on year. We reward quality by paying a higher price to the producer, working with trusted partners at origin to ensure producers receive fair prices and seek to develop ongoing relationships. In 2020, 14 out of the 27 coffees we purchased came from producers or communities we have previously worked with, either through semi-direct purchasing, visits to origin or via our trusted importers. This repeat purchasing emphasises a closer relationship with the source and allows some of these producers to plan their crop, processing and staffing for the years ahead.
The idea of “semi-direct purchasing” refers to producers that we have directly agreed on prices and quantities through on-going friendships, visits to origin, their own visits to the UK and countless email and Whatsapp messages. Once we have agreed on these specific coffees and prices we will then use the services of a commodities logistics company to arrange their payment, shipping, customs and warehousing. Whilst it is fantastic to champion the idea of closer relationships, it is equally important to give credit to each part of the supply chain that contributes to making this possible. It takes specialist partners to oversee the logistics of coffees global journey in order to uphold the quality standards of specialty coffee. As a medium-sized roastery we are happy to let the experts handle this process while we focus on selecting, roasting and serving the best representation of these coffees.
Here’s some of the farms we’re proud to have developed a long standing relationship with as well as the importing partners we’ve worked with to help connect us to their coffee.
Daterra Estate in Brazil, DR Wakefield
San Jeronimo in Guatemala, CoffeeBird
El Martillo in El Salvador, Nordic Approach
San Francisco in El Salvador, DR Wakefield
Slopes of 8 in Kenya, Sucafina
Granja La Esperanza in Colombia, DR Wakefield
Environmentalism at Source
Here’s two stories of sustainable practice at farm level. We take pride in purchasing from farms with traceable environmental practices and we’ve been lucky enough to visit both these farms over the years and see the care, attentiveness and respect these producers invest back to the land their coffees come from.
Spotlight on: Finca San Jeronimo, Guatemala
A stand out model of sustainable practices for us is Finca San Jeronimo. We spoke to coffee producer Giorgio Bressani earlier this year to ask about his environmental programme in the Volcan Atitlan region of Guatemala. Catch the full interview with Giorgio here and read our blog post here.
‘The cornerstone of the whole programme is the compost - we reuse our organic waste from different farm operations to give back to the Earth. We have a dairy, a pasture and gardens. We recollect all the food waste from the houses and different places where people eat and put it into the compost. So we’re saving on buying nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from agro companies, it’s all about recycling nutrients. So whatever the cow didn’t use, we’re putting back into the coffee field. The compost is a slow release, with a larger variety of nutrients and 50% of the dose is organic matter so you’re giving more food to the microbiology.’
Spotlight on: Daterra Estate, Brazil
Our classic espresso The Baron from Daterra Estate in Brazil is without a doubt your favourite coffee. We roasted 49,664 kilos of it in 2020. The name Daterra literally translates as “from the Earth”, and this is an association that the whole team at farm level seeks to uphold. Since the start Daterra have always been seeking innovative ways to produce coffee more sustainably. As a result they are the first coffee producers in the world to receive a Level A certificate from the Rainforest Alliance. They have 7500 hectares of land of which 2400 is for growing coffee and the rest is conservation area.
Among the stand-out environmental practices at Daterra Estate one particular project from 2020 is worth noting. Last year Daterra Estate launched Project Beanstalk, a reforestation initiative to plant 3 million trees in Brazil before 2030 (according to the world economic forum, the world needs to plant 1 trillion trees this decade to mitigate the effects of global warming). The carbon-offset project will continue over the next decade, with the first seedlings being sown in December last year. We’re proud to support a farm that provides a benchmark as well as a road map for sustainability in the whole industry.
All of our coffee is roasted on the environmentally friendly Loring S35 Kestrel. The Loring’s single burner simultaneously roasts beans while incinerates smoke from the roasting process, without using an external afterburner. This single-flame design heats ambient air efficiently and significantly reduces our energy consumption. Warm air is recirculated to help the roaster reach its target temperature – in less time, with less energy. In 2020 we roasted for an average of 35 hours per week, resulting in a saving of approximately 19,900 kilos of CO2 in comparison to conventional roasters.
We are proud to use Bulb as our green energy supplier for Climpson’s Arch, Office and Cafe. Bulb is the UK’s biggest green energy supplier, providing all their members with 100% renewable electricity and gas.
For every unit of electricity from the grid we use Bulb replaces it with a unit from their renewable energy partner sources in the UK including solar, wind and hydro. Equally, the gas used at all our sites is 100% carbon neutral. Bulb supplies us with as much green gas as possible, however there simply isn’t enough green gas available to meet current UK demand. This means the emissions produced from the use of conventional gas are offset by supporting carbon reduction projects around the world with carbon offsets verified by the Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard or the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism.
(We also stock the Bulb office team with The Baron - so we like to think of ourselves as fuelling each others’ green business in more ways than one!)
We actively aim to reduce our energy consumption where we can. We have a company policy of switching off appliances and computers when not in use and use LED and fluorescent light bulbs whenever possible.
We were able to continue our participation in the Hackney Council food recycling program, making sure our coffee chaff (a bi-product of roasting) doesn’t end up in landfill. This helped us reduce our waste by approximately 2 tonnes last year. Hackney Council also provides our recycling services at Climpson’s Arch, Office and Cafe. Recycling is collected by the North London Waste Authority where our mixed recyclables are sent to their recycling facility in Edmonton. As much recyclable material as possible is supplied to manufacturers in the UK however this is determined by international recycling markets.
Our used coffee grounds from Climpson’s Cafe are collected by First Mile who partner with bio-bean to divert waste coffee grounds from landfill. Our spent grounds are collected and delivered to their factory in Cambridgeshire, where they are dried, renewing them for reuse in valuable products such as logs for domestic wood burners.
We purchase our toilet paper from a supplier who manufactures using 100% post consumer recycled fibre, which comes packed in 100% recyclable and compostable packaging. On top of that Low-flow toilets have been installed in all locations.
Packing & Shipping
Coffee bags are tricky. Your coffee has to arrive dry and fresh. This means our bags need to be made from a combination of materials to keep the product at top quality and are therefore not the easiest thing to recycle. We’ve been collecting your used coffee bags since September 2019 for recycling through Terracycle. Your bags are then broken down into their separate components of paper, metal and plastic and turned into useful things like garden furniture, nuts and bolts and newspapers (amongst many many other things). Unfortunately our current bags are not domestically recyclable, but we’ve got some good news. Later this year we’ll be releasing our first fully, easily recyclable coffee bag. We can’t wait to share it with you.
All boxes that leave the Arch for wholesale and webshop orders are manufactured using 60-90% post-consumer recycled and reclaimed fibre and certified by FSC as ‘Mix’. These boxes are made using post-consumer waste and also virgin fibre from trees grown in forests which are maintained within the guidelines of ‘stewardship’ rather than clear cutting. All discarded cardboard is compacted and baled, which is then collected by an independent recycler monthly. This results in fewer collections of recycled waste bins by the council and also fewer ‘rejected’ recycling bins from the council. More of our cardboard is recycled than ever before.
It’s a bi-weekly ritual for us to hand deliver freshly roasted coffee across London Fields to our cafe. You may have seen one of us rolling our trolley aka the Climpson’s Company Car through the park. Climpsons cafe’s espresso order is delivered in zero-waste 10 kilo buckets that are washed, returned and reused for next week's delivery. We hand deliver approximately 180kg of espresso, batch and retail of coffee to the cafe each week. No wonder we’re so strong.
You may have spotted our bike courier Courtney cycling precious coffee cargo across East London. Around 20% of our wholesale customers receive their deliveries at zero emissions by bike. (We run local bike deliveries to around a 5 mile radius).
The rest of our wholesale customers receive their coffee through DPDs delivery services. DPD has committed to making every parcel they deliver carbon neutral by measuring their CO2 output, striving to reduce it and then offsetting the remaining emissions. Emissions are reduced by improving the efficiency of their transport network by using solutions such as Predict or Pickup to better plan routes, reduce time wasted on the road, as well as increasing their use of alternative fuel vehicles.
At Climpsons we're not just about coffee (OK — we're mainly about coffee), but we also care about things. We spend time and effort supporting causes we care about within our local community that aim to better the lives of others, including charities that support people sleeping rough, local schools, as well as environmentally focussed charities that work to help protect our natural environment and reduce the effects of climate change.
As a result of the UKs first lockdown we launched a campaign to send our coffee to essential workers for a well deserved cuppa. As of January 2021 you’ve donated £961 in coffee for essential workers in the UK, which we then matched pound for pound to deliver double the mood-boosting coffee fix. We've sent coffee to NHS teams at the Royal Free Hospital, Royal London Hospital, London Ambulance, Great Ormond Street and St Joseph’s Hospice as well as the staff and residents at Centre Point and Thames Reach housing centres and the London Fire Brigade.
We look forward to continuing our work with the London 2 Monaco fundraising event for Blue Marine Foundation in the coming years. Having fuelled the cyclists with coffee for the last 3 years we have aided the fundraising mission which has exceeded its target of £250,000 each year. The resulting funds have gone towards projects across the world to help inform and educate individuals and industry on best sustainability practices for our oceans.
We also look forward to returning to our annual jog for Shelter at the Hackney Half. We’ve participated in the event for the last 4 years alongside our London Fields neighbours Pub on the Park, Lardo and Fix, collecting sponsorships as well as donating 10p from all our coffee sales on the day.
In recent years we have also supported a number of charities, businesses and local schools with coffee, equipment, monetary and other donations.