A Brotherhood of Coffee and Sustainability
Dan and Nick Hunnewell’s brother-run New York-based coffee business is 2221 miles from Costa Rica, 7339 miles from Kenya, and 9641 miles from Indonesia.
When you consider the distance, Coffee Bros. is a long way from the smallholder farmers who grow the beans for roasting, especially during a pandemic when Dan and Nick can’t just hop on an international flight to meet the growers.
The brothers have had to get creative about ways to feel close to the land and to those who work it. Dan Hunnewell says, “We are doing everything possible to feel like we’re there and we’re giving back.”
Look at the Coffee Bros. website and you learn as much about what the Hunnewells roast as you learn about why they roast it. Their mission statement says they want the cornerstone of the coffee program to be sustainability, quality, consistency, and freshness. It continues, “Sustainability is vital to not only our industry but to the planet that constantly provides for us.”
Dan and Nick put their passion into a plan. They are carbon neutral, they support World Coffee Research with a contribution for every pound of green coffee purchased, and they’ve added donation options for customers to support two charities: Grounds for Health and One Tree Planted, which lead health and environmental initiatives in coffee-producing regions. Dan says, “In 60 to 70 percent of our purchases through our website, people add a donation. When people see that we are tied to a cause, they believe in it, too.”
They turned their outside perspective into an inside advantage. Dan says his e-commerce experience helped them market online to achieve what he says is being among the top 50 coffee companies on Amazon. Dan says Nick has roasting talent and a focused way with the machine which comes as “second nature” after years of operating heavy equipment in his former sanitation job.
Coffee Bros. is building a name for itself and if you look closely—you will see Nick and Dan supporting another partner along the way: GrainPro. GrainPro’s hermetically sealed bags are featured on the @coffeebros Instagram page, and on the website as well, because Dan says it is simply good for the kind of business Coffee Bros. believes in.
He says all the roaster’s coffees are sourced in GrainPro bags to keep the green coffee sealed and prevent odors, mold, and quality loss. The bags also allow those smallholder farmers thousands of miles away to reduce crop loss and protect bean quality after harvest, so they can sell more of their coffee for potentially more money.
Coffee Bros. saw another opportunity to put sustainability to work. Dan explains the company roasts out of a cooperative with about a dozen other roasters. He says Coffee Bros. noticed some of the GrainPro bags were getting thrown away after use, so Dan and Nick started an East Coast bag recycling program which keeps hundreds of bags from the landfill. Dan says, “We’re just trying to find ways to be a value add in the coffee industry. That is essentially what we’re looking for.”
Coffee Bros. has done all of this with just two brothers (and some packing help from their mom). They plan to grow their products and their company, while vowing one thing will remain the same: always be consistent with what they say and what they do for coffee communities near and far.