This is a subscriber-only article. Join Entrepreneur+ today for access

Learn More

Already have an account?

Sign in
Entrepreneur Plus - Short White
For Subscribers

Think Coffee Provides a New Model for Sustainable Businesses The New York-based coffee company puts farmers and their communities first.

By Jim Morrison

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In 2006, when Jason Scherr opened the first Think Coffee in Manhattan, he wanted to maintain a socially and environmentally responsible business. To that end, Think, like many other coffee shops, stocked certified Fair Trade coffee. Over time, however, Scherr and colleague Matt Fury began to question the validity of Fair Trade programs in some countries because, Scherr says, it was hard to trace the coffee to its origin. The two decided to see for themselves whether Think's dollars were ending up in the pockets of those who grow coffee responsibly.

So Scherr and Fury, Think's head of farmer relations and sustainable practices, went to Central America and Africa to meet with coffee growers, first using contacts supplied by their roasters and later relying on word-of-mouth on the ground. "We think the coffee business is a relationship business," Scherr says, "and we want people to feel good about our stores." If Scherr and Fury couldn't feel good about their relationships with farmers, they figured, how could customers appreciate their product?

The two decided to begin importing beans themselves, working only with coffee-growing communities where they could build relationships and address the needs of local people, through improved schools or access to better food or medical care. To help launch those programs, Think offered employees--the company has about 100--and customers the opportunity to travel to coffee-growing communities to see how the beans are grown and to work on philanthropic projects.

The rest of this article is locked.

Join Entrepreneur+ today for access.

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Sign In