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March is Women’s History Month and B Corp month! We wanted to take a moment to write a little blog post about why those two things are important to Thread Coffee Roasters.
Thread Coffee was founded on the values of feminist intersectionality, meaning we understand that inequality is not created equal. Many types of oppression can overlap and create compounding pressure on a person. Thread Coffee has always been a project in threading together social movements in women’s rights, gender equity, autonomy, race, and class struggles through coffee. We are more than women-owned. We are worker-owned. We are cooperatively organized. We support direct democracy throughout our supply stream.
Thread Coffee was founded in 2012 by founder Casey McKeel, an activist and photographer in Baltimore, MD. Casey had a background in worker-cooperatives, coffee sourcing, and roasting and saw the opportunity to thread together social movements worldwide through coffee. Coffee is a spectacular unifying force! It is grown by over 25 million smallholder farmers around the world. It employs over 125 million people worldwide. It’s a ritual and a beverage enjoyed in every culture and every country. There is almost no life that goes untouched by coffee. It was the most obvious way to do the most amount of good worldwide by founding a mission-driven and cooperatively-owned coffee roaster.
Thus Thread Coffee was born. Ten years later, our business still strives to unify and uplift oppressed and underserved people in the coffee supply stream. We are committed to sourcing coffee from smallholder farmer cooperatives and not large estates or single-owned farms.
We are committed to importing coffee with industry-leading terms of trade, meaning we go beyond Fair Trade terms. We are a member-owner of Cooperative Coffees and collectively import over 5 million pounds of coffee annually and are committed to the following values:
- Always Fair
- Truth and Transparency
- Human Connections with Big Heart
- Community through Cooperation
- Passion for the Cause
Continuously improving the livelihood of small-scale coffee farmers and services to our
members through relationships that foster regenerative and sustainable impact.
Women’s History Month is an excellent opportunity to showcase how feminist intersectionality can work in a mission-driven business model. Thread Coffee is not just a women-owned company for the sake of empowering a few, it is a project to empower many. That’s why we are worker-owned and cooperatively structured. No investor has decision-making power in our business. The workers hold power and any worker at Thread Coffee is eligible for ownership. This model allows us to employ and shift the power dynamic in our community and the culture around business-as-usual. We are for-profit but the workers decide where the profits go.
We are committed to Baltimore City and are a proud manufacturer and maker in the Made in Baltimore network.
In 2021, Thread Coffee became B Corp Certified. We knew we were doing the right things but wanted to show the world! B Corp Certification allowed us to show how we excel in the five measured categories of B Corp Certification:
We wanted to go beyond ESG (environment, social, and governance) models that some corporations use. And we wanted to have those reports and scorecards publicly available to anyone worldwide. We are in good company, Patagonia and Ben and Jerry’s are two of the most notable B Corp Certified companies. You can see our scorecard here.