In pursuit of truly sustainable coffee...
Hi there! Thanks for being our first interviewee. So, who are you and what is the product you offer?
I am Holly Kragiopoulos, co-founder of North Star Coffee Roasters – a wholesale coffee roastery, training school and coffee shop focused on sourcing only speciality grade Arabica coffee (top 5 per cent of what is grown globally) directly from incredible producing people and places across the world.
Holly Kragiopoulos, co-founder of North Star Coffee Roasters
Fantastic! Sustainable coffee is certainly something we can get behind - caffeine pretty much powers the EcoVibe Team!
What are the negative effects of traditional coffee production and how does your new way benefit the planet?
For us, true sustainability embodies principles of economic, environmental and social development – we were established primarily from a concern that the traditional procurement mechanisms used for sourcing coffee were having a detrimental impact on the people and environment responsible for growing it.
Our business was established in 2013 from a desire to put the humanity back into the commoditised coffee supply chain to safeguard the industry for future generations. By sourcing outstanding quality coffee, we are able to connect the consumer to the producer and shine a spotlight on the valuable role played in the supply chain by those who grow the coffee we drink. This, in turn, grows the interest in more ethically sourced coffee and for coffee to taste good, it demands the environment that grows it is looked after too.
Many of the growers we work with utilise organic and agroforestry techniques to nurture the coffee plants they cultivate. When coffee is grown as a commodity, there is little care or attention that goes into it for the people who pick it nor for the land, it grows on.
We love your ethos! What sustainable goals do you have as a business? And why are these are important to you?
So far we have managed to curate and offer a list of coffees from relationships we have set up through sourcing trips across the world. We are proud to have established a North Star funded project in El Salvador to assist one of the growers we work with to become more efficient in her role and access more income from the supply chain.
All of our packaging is recyclable and carbon neutral and we have cut the emissions from our roastery by 92,000lbs of carbon having invested in a more fuel-efficient machine.
Cutting our C02 emissions is really important to us as we are unable to source our raw materials more locally as coffee only grows successfully in the Tropics. So we try our best to offset as much as possible to ensure the environmental impact we have through our business activities is positive.
North Star with the Vides Family in La Bolsa, El Salvador
Wow, you're smashing those goals! What advice do you have for coffee lovers who want to make an informed choice when purchasing?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your chosen supplier, the coffee supply chain is often cloudy and full of ambiguous terms such as ‘gourmet’ or ‘artisan’ but what do these words really mean? Is it enough to just buy Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified coffee?
A recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme highlighted issues with child labour on several certified farms that were supplying the likes of Nespresso and Starbucks so it is clear that we, as consumers, need to demand more from the companies we buy from.
Do your research and take the time to understand where your money is going. You can read more here on my thoughts of what it takes to be a truly ethical coffee consumer.
Thanks, that's really helpful. And finally, what tips do you have to live a more sustainable life?
Don’t be overwhelmed or put off making changes because of the enormity of the global problem – small changes that are easy to make and maintain count for everything and pretty soon, you will be able to see the difference they have made.