We are beyond excited to announce that Five Senses Coffee is now a certified Benefit Corporation company (B Corp). Making big declarations brings a certain thrill but this one is one of our proudest. Using our business as a force for good has been independently verified and we’ve come out on top, being awarded for our high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Our whopping score of 101.7 well exceeded what was necessary to qualify.
Being a company that exists to benefit people, communities and the planet is where Five Senses Coffee began; in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea in the late 1990’s. For a time, our founder and owner Dean Gallagher lived amongst coffee growers and saw the seasonal rhythms of coffee production at the ground level. As relationships grew and time moved forward, a coffee roastery was established in WA, partnering with growers in PNG.
As the business expanded, we extended our network of partnerships to more countries including Peru, Guatemala, Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Timor Leste. Five Senses Coffee enjoys strong business and personal relationships with the coffee growers and traders at origin. From the onset of our journey in Papua New Guinea, our founding mission of Impacting People Positively was established and continues to be the hallmark of what we’ve done every day since.
Our coffee buyers have first-hand experience of these growing environments and the specific challenges that face the farming families. With a great sense of fulfilling our mission, we have been able to engage with these communities at their particular point of need. Whether it be buying gumboots for coffee scouts in Burundi, eyeglasses for aging women in Rwanda or even soccer jerseys for a team of hopefuls in Nicaragua, we’ve been delighted to engage. On the environmental front we have helped large neighbourhoods of people easily access fresh water in Tanzania and raised funds for a rainforest extension project in Burundi. Work and training for migrants to Australia is sometimes difficult to access but through our partnership with Scarf Community we aim to transform local lives through the hospitality industry. We couldn’t be prouder of the depth and breadth of our collaborations around the globe.
As Australia’s appetite for specialty coffee expanded, our capacity to do more good grew with it. Fast forward to 2020 when Jason, our CEO elected to put Five Senses Coffee under a stringent review process to assess just how well we were living out our mission. It felt like we were doing well but only an independent body could measure that. At this point the B Corp Impact Assessment process became an invaluable tool to ‘lift the bonnet’ on our working procedures.
Not many companies can claim they set up a “Busy B” function during the Covid lockdowns, but it was during this period a small group of internal staff we called our “Busy B’s” earnestly started the process of becoming a B Corp certified business. With a foundational mission of Impacting People Positively, we felt we already did a lot of ‘good’. B Corp certification requires a company to achieve at least 80 points to qualify and we estimated we were only halfway to this goal. Rigorous amounts of research, shifts in policy, system reviews, documentation and procedural change were all part of the adjustments needed. Our colony of B’s worked across every function to reform practices, and, at times, our significant efforts only awarded us 0.6 of a point! It turns out that becoming B Corp certified is really, really…really hard!!
For 3 years our Busy B action group met weekly; collecting proof of our charitable engagements and identifying areas to reform. The business made changes to ratify our constitution, ensuring we make an overall positive impact on people, including society and the environment. The scorecard speaks for itself…
The B Corp Impact Assessment investigates five impact areas of the business:
In order to achieve certification, each aspiring B Corp company is required to provide documentation about their practices, procedures and policies in each impact area. Every response is measured and granted points toward that minimum 80 point target. Five Senses Coffee was awarded 101.7 points, putting us well in the top group of B Corp companies from around the world.
Obviously, we hovered the microscope over the company’s power usage, carbon emissions and offsets. From the data collected we set targets and achieved some substantial reductions and then purchased offsets to become officially Carbon Neutral from April 2020. This status contributed significantly in our B Corp submission.
The process of becoming B Corp certified neglected no one in our entire supply chain. The assessors even reviewed how supported and cared for our own office staff felt! Our high score is a satisfying achievement that proves the heart of our mission to Impact People Positively is being fulfilled with fervour.
Our CEO, Jason Gray, summarised the B Corp certification to staff like this:
“The living out of this happens every day in the way you all go about your jobs, trying to make sure we are always positive for our customers, suppliers, fellow staff and the environment. When everything is added up, the B Lab Certification Co is happy to certify that Five Senses Coffee is a company that does more than make money, we are a company that has a positive impact in the world. That’s something the whole company has achieved and something that you all should feel very proud of. Congratulations everyone!!”
Years of significant and thoughtful company changes, at considerable time and cost, have enabled us to achieve an impressive result. It is with deep satisfaction that we produce delicious coffee at such a worthy standard of social and environmental excellence. Being a certified B Corp company is about being a force for good, having a positive impact on people, places, products and the planet and realising that we are all in this together.
The journey of this achievement has not found its destination in the B Corp accreditation. We’re excited to celebrate our incredible efforts, but we recognise the journey continues. The next 20 years will bring more challenge to our global community, and we are resolute and committed to the path of social and environmental impact that we originally started on.