Husband, Thomas [faculty advisor, Department of Natural Resource Science]




coffee; business; sustainability


Many Americans are getting sick of the way things have become and the way things are, from the government to the quality of food we put into our bodies. We are upon a new frontier, people are changing the way they live and consume. The days of quantity over quality are fading. Many consumers are making purchases and consumption decisions based on more than a simple cost analysis. How and where a given product was produced, whether or not the trade involved of a given product was truly ethical, and what are the environmental implications of getting that product to the final consumer, are all, or should be, just as important factors as cost when making consumer decisions.

In the case for coffee, the time for an artisan intervention has arrived. No longer are the days when the masses knew coffee as dry brown grindings that provide a bitter caffeine jolt. With communication technology today and the means available to a small group of westerners, it is now possible to source the best tasting raw coffees directly from the growers and co-op’s themselves. This model of “direct trade” enables the buyer to establish close relationships with producers to further influence and enhance the quality of the coffee grown, as well as enables the buyer and producer, as business partners, to set the price and production standards.

The coffee house itself is the perfect medium for exploring the principles and benefits of sustainable business. Not only because of the vast new ways to minimize the environmental impact of retail operations or its ability to rally a counter culture and raise social awareness, but it is an opportunity to find that happy balance between ethics and economics—a way to do something as simple as sell coffee and have a positive effect on the lives of others, producers and consumers alike.

Through the information gather from primary and secondary sources I have formulated a fully developed “sustainable” business model that goes far beyond what any third party certification organization would consider acceptable. The business plan goes in depth through the start-up aspects of such a business and exemplifies what I believe, based on my research, is truly sustainable business operations. Although the ideas and principles I utilize in my business plan are evident, they must be explained in greater detail. This is where my final summary comes in. The report will contain my final conclusions regarding some of the basic principles behind and benefits of, sustainable business practices.