Counter Culture Coffee: For Your Consideration for the Green Plus People’s Choice Award

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Counter Culture Coffee, finalist for Green Plus North American Sustainable Enterprise of 2011, is also eligible to win the Green Plus People’s Choice Award. This Durham, North Carolina company’s commitment to fairness and quality provides an incredible, sustainable product as well as good jobs for Americans and coffee farming families abroad. The company was an early leader in establishing sustainable standards for its industry. The Counter Culture Direct Trade Certification, which is designed to better communicate its quality-driven approach to sustainable coffee, engages USDA-accredited Quality Certification Services (QCS) to verify Counter Culture’s compliance with four measures based the guiding principles behind its coffee purchases and relationships with coffee farmers. Core elements of its practice include clear, regular communication with its suppliers, fair and sustainable prices, exceptional quality and 100% transparency.
In Counter Culture’s Own Words…
“Since our founding in 1995, Counter Culture Coffee has represented a new way of bringing coffee to market: sourcing the greatest handcrafted coffees in the world directly from the farmers themselves, celebrating the farms and cultures that create those coffees, and roasting skillfully to bring out their delicious, unique flavors. We celebrate these great coffees as the fresh, seasonal fruits they are, and we only sell coffee at the peak of flavor and freshness. Thus, our selection of coffees will grow and change as we find other spectacular coffees to share. Our seasonal selection of single-origin coffees, microlots, and handcrafted blends are, to us, the quintessential coffee experiences and the best expressions of coffee’s diverse traditions and origins.
In addition to our continual search for quality-driven coffee artisans around the world, we engage in quality development at every stage of the coffee chain – from initiatives at origin and brewing experimentation at home to honing the craft of roasting and improving the information on our packaging. We recognize that freshness is paramount to quality, and we keep as little roasted coffee on hand as possible. We also roast to order, and our coffee is roasted, bagged, and shipped on the same day. All this dedication to quality allows us to trade in the real thing: intensely delicious coffees straight from the amazing farms on which they were grown. We proudly identify each coffee with the farm or co-ops real name, never obscuring the origin of coffee with marketing hype. We’re fanatics for traceability and transparency, but at the end of the day, we measure our success by the astounding flavor of great coffees in the cup. Please visit Our Coffees to browse our current seasonal selection and learn more about our extraordinary farmer partners.
Fairness and sustainability are core values for us, and these concepts guide every decision we make. We believe that everyone in the chain of great coffee deserves to prosper. To us, fairness is a starting point, and we go far beyond the basics of fairness to real collaboration with the artisans who create great coffees. It is this sense of partnership with farmers that forms the basis for our sustainable coffee model. We strive for real environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability in everything we do, and we’re proud to work with some of the most progressive and environmentally sensitive farms in the coffee trade.
This commitment to sustainability also encompasses our work here at home – within our roastery and training centers, with our community retail partners, and with like-minded organizations with which we work to serve common causes. Furthermore, we establish collaborative, personal relationships with our farmer partners, whom we treat with respect and share our interdependent success. In 2008, we launched our groundbreaking 3rd-party certified Counter Culture Direct Trade Certification, which established pioneering direct trade standards for sustainability, fairness, quality, and transparency in the coffee chain. Learn more about our ongoing efforts toward sustainability on our online Sustainability section.
We are passionate about coffee education, and our mission to create cutting-edge coffee people extends beyond our organization and into our relationships with partnering artisan farmers, customers, vendors, and local communities. An essential element of our business model, our inclusive approach to coffee education aims to empower everyone in the coffee chain with the skills and knowledge necessary to ensure quality stewardship and sustainability from farm to cup. We believe that constant innovation, best practices development, and dedicated craftsmanship are elemental to our success, and since we know that education, quality, and sustainability go hand in hand, we feel a responsibility to share our discoveries and expertise with the world.
It is with this in mind that we created our Counter Intelligence coffee education program, an ever-evolving curricula of courses, seminars, and hands-on training labs designed to impart the knowledge and skills required to craft the most extraordinary coffee experiences possible. Our regional training centers – located in Asheville, NC; Atlanta; Charlotte; Durham, NC; New York City; and Washington, DC – serve not only as classrooms and training labs for Counter Intelligence, but also as community hubs of knowledge, exploration, and cultural exchange. Our weekly public coffee cuppings, held every Friday at 10 a.m. in our regional training centers, represent one of our proudest educational traditions. Fun and always educational, our cuppings provide coffee lovers of all skill levels the opportunity to experience, compare, and discuss a wide variety of coffees and their myriad, fascinating characteristics.
The Institute for Sustainable Development
We educate, motivate, and recognize smaller enterprises for their efforts towards becoming more sustainable. We’re here to offer tangible, practical tips and expertise in sustainability.
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