Two decades of building sustainability and social responsibility into our business model

Island born

Organic farmers Mickey McLeod and Robbyn Scott open the first roasting café on Salt Spring Island, which sits between Vancouver Island and the mainland on Canada’s West Coast.


Grocery gateway

Word of our coffee begins to travel beyond the Island. We are the first company in our region to have organic coffee on grocery store shelves.


Fair Trade

We put fair labour practices at the centre of our coffee-buying program and become one of the first 10 companies to be certified by TransFair Canada (now Fair Trade Canada).


New Roasting Facility

We move to a bigger roasting facility on Salt Spring Island and take the opportunity to improve our roasting process by installing an afterburner, rendering smoke invisible and odourless.

Certified organic

Our early commitment to 100 percent organic green coffee includes certifying our roasting facility. We go with the Pacific Agriculture Certification Society, or PACS.

Costa Rican connection

Mickey and Robbyn travel to Costa Rica to meet with the farmers who grow our coffee. This first trip to origin is the beginning of our direct-trade program.


A new model

In Peru, Mickey establishes a direct-trade relationship with the Pangoa Cooperative, moving beyond a trade model using brokers and importers. Some of Pangoa’s first fair-trade organic beans head to Salt Spring Island. Watch the video


All aboard

Salt Spring Coffee opens a kiosk at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. This connection to the Mainland—and to thousands of travellers throughout the region—is an important step in our growth in British Columbia.


Carbon Neutral, Carbon Cool

We become one of the world’s first carbon-neutral coffee companies. From monitoring our energy use to tracking, minimizing and offsetting our greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, our carbon footprint is third-party verified by Climate Smart.


Airshed Quality Standards

In collaboration with Metro Vancouver, we help set the airshed quality standards for coffee roasting. We carefully monitor and minimize our emissions and report our results to Metro Vancouver annually.


Certified collaborations

We work with Quality Certification Services to verify trade practices for our early Fair to Farmer program, including paying above the fair-trade base price for beans, making transactions and contracts fully transparent, and visiting our coffee-growing communities annually.


Direct from Sumatra

We establish a direct-trade relationship with the KBQB co-operative in Sumatra, Indonesia. Their high-quality organic coffee quickly turns into our best-selling grocery product.

Benefits of B Corp

Benefit Corporation, or B Corp, is a certification that looks beyond coffee to consider the whole company and the impact we have on our workforce, suppliers, community and planet. We re-certify every two years.

Vancouver Climate Leader

The City of Vancouver selects Salt Spring Coffee as one of its Top 10 Corporate Climate Leaders.

Coffee carbon cycle

We work with Offsetters on a full lifecycle analysis of French Roast Nicaraguan coffee: 63 percent of carbon emissions come from brewing and consumer actions. Distribution, roasting and raw materials combined equal 37 percent. Watch the video

Viking Roastery

With demand for organic coffee growing, we relocate our head office, roasting and packaging operations to a 5,500 square-metre facility in Richmond, BC. We become more efficient with transportation logistics and operations.


On the ground in Nicaragua

Salt Spring Coffee deepens its connection to farmers and communities in Nicaragua. We deliver chippers to two co-operative farms so they can make organic compost and improve the soil, help a women’s co-op open a much-needed store, and work closely with the amazing biodynamic farmer Byron Corrales.
Watch the videos:
Women’s Co-operative
Making of Byron’s Maracaturra

Living la vida LOCO BC

We become a founding partner in LOCO BC, a nonprofit organization that brings together consumers, businesses and institutions to work toward local economic sustainability. LOCO provides support for our sustainability strategy and programs.


IMO Fair for Life

We start using the Institute for Marketecology, or IMO, and its rigorous Fair for Life certification, which ensures that human rights are guaranteed at every stage of production, that workers enjoy good and equitable working conditions, and that smallholder farmers receive a fair share.

Fair to Farmer

Fair to Farmer becomes the umbrella program for all of Salt Spring Coffee’s fair-trade practices, combining IMO certification and direct-trade relationships with our international network of growers and co-operatives.

Best for the World

We are recognized in B Corp’s first “Best for the World” list for the effectiveness of our sustainability programs and commitment to the environment. We are one of only five Canadian ‘Best for the World’ companies selected by B Lab, an independent nonprofit based in the United States.

1% for the Planet

We are the first Canadian coffee company to become a 1% for the Planet member—a global movement of companies that donate at least 1 percent of their annual revenues to environmental organizations. Read more

Zero Hero, Zero Waste

In collaboration with LOCO BC, Salt Spring Coffee pioneers a program to help businesses reduce their waste and associated carbon emissions from the average rate of 56 percent to less than 25 percent.


Managing carbon

We refocus our carbon management efforts to reduce energy use and emissions within our company, and work toward GHG-reduction projects that also improve the lives and communities of our international suppliers.


These Leafs are good

IMO recertifies us at its highest Fair for Life level—5 Leaf—citing Salt Spring Coffee’s long-term relationships with farmers, including regular visits, and our role as an employer that provides excellent worker benefits, safety standards, and communication. View our certification

Challenge. Create. Canopy Bird.

Coffee lovers, artists and change agents join together for a unique art auction to raise funds to protect endangered forests and the birds that call them home. We host the event to raise funds for one of our 1% for the Planet partners, Canopy, an award-winning non-profit dedicated to preserving ancient forests. www.canopybird.com

Reducing emissions at the source

We fund a project to reduce GHG emissions in a source community, working with Byron Corrales in Nicaragua to install biodigesters that compost farm materials to reduce waste and create green electricity to power farmers’ homes.


Solar panels for remote Nicaraguan farms

Salt Spring Coffee works with EOS International to provide affordable, low-impact solar energy to isolated farms in Nicaragua.

Supporting gender equality in Uganda

We work with Uganda’s Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union, a gender equality pioneer, to connect farmers with the great-tasting coffee they produce by helping the co-operative build a cupping lab.

We release this report

Our CSR website demonstrates our commitment to document the steps we are taking to improve our relationships with one another and the planet that sustains us.


20 Year Anniversary

Take a look at our 20 year video—celebrating our pioneering roots, reflecting on our core company values and generating excitement for the future.

Best for the World | Best for Environment

For the second time in four years, we have been awarded “Best for Environment” for the effectiveness of our sustainability programs and our commitment to the environment.

This puts us in the top 10 percent of more than 1,800 Certified B Corporations from 15 industries and 17 countries. To have our sustainability efforts recognized within this global community of incredible businesses is truly an honour. Learn more