Leading with Purpose

How Canterbury Coffee is giving back to local and global communities.

Giving back to our community can begin with just one sip. Small actions have the potential to grow into a collaborative movement with power to make a difference in people’s lives. At Canterbury Coffee, we believe it’s possible for us to leave the world in a better state than we found it.

For us, taking care of our communities and the planet is a priority, and a way of life. Community is the foundation of Canterbury Coffee’s relationships with farmers and their families, our employees and customers, and our work with local and global organizations. 

Sandra Kesselman, our VP of Retail Sales and Marketing, leads Canterbury Coffee’s Give Back initiatives, including two core programs: Canterbury Roastery and Beyond Fair Trade. Through these programs, our team supports both local communities and the global farming communities who grow and harvest the coffee beans. 

The biggest goal is to create a sense of community, as well as engaging our employees, customers and consumers.  We’re all part of the same community. It’s an opportunity to lead with purpose. 

Sandra Kesselman, Canterbury Coffee, Vancouver

The Canterbury Roastery program involves giving back to local and international communities. Proceeds from every kilogram of Canterbury Roastery coffees sold are allocated to support Canadian communities and global coffee growing regions. The Beyond Fair Trade program, on the other hand, ensures that a percentage of every kilogram of coffee sold under the Doi Chaang brand is given directly back to the farming communities that grow the beans. 

Worthy Cause: Supporting Local Communities 

Locally, the Canterbury Roastery Give Back program supports a diverse variety of industries, causes and initiatives. These include organizations that are focused upon sustainable farming and food, climate change, and the environment. In addition, we support community organizations committed to female empowerment and collaboration. 

Canterbury Coffee also gives products-in-kind to local organizations, and participates in an annual “Adopt-a-Family” initiative with the Lower Mainland Purpose Society. Through the generosity of our Canterbury community, we provide food for a Christmas dinner and wrapped gifts for an entire family. 

Sandra Kesselman oversees the distribution of all Give Back program funds, ensuring that all local organizations align with Canterbury Coffee’s values. In November 2021, as one example, the Canterbury Roastery Give Back program partnered with the Abbotsford Food Bank and Hope Community Services in British Columbia to support local communities affected by the horrific floods. 

When our neighbours were suffering from floods in 2021, we created a program to provide financial aid,  and Canterbury employees were eager to participate. We WANT to give back as individuals and as an organization.  We want to give back to organizations that work with food, that work with families, that are creating more sustainable processes at source. 

Sandra Kesselman, Canterbury Coffee, Vancouver

Individual employees at Canterbury Coffee have the opportunity to become involved in our programs, and we do our best to let them know that they are working for an organization that shares their values. Our customers, too, are an essential part of the Give Back programs, and play an important role in these initiatives. 

Lisa Richardson, Executive Vice President and COO of Canterbury Coffee, adds that “With our larger customers, they have made the conscious decision to work with us and our brokers. They can be directive about where they want their give back funds to go, so it is a direct match with their values.”

Giving Back to Farming Communities Through Beyond Fair Trade

Beyond Fair Trade logo

The Beyond Fair Trade program uses a Beyond Fair Trade assignation: a mark given to coffee when it meets the program’s rigorous criteria of economic and environmental standards. The Doi Chaang brand meets this set of criteria, and a percentage of every pound of coffee sold under the brand supports the farming communities. This program funds projects to improve access to education, healthcare and equality. 

One current project, Todos al Agua, is located in Amazonas, Peru, and involves bringing together knowledge and technology to implement regenerative soil practices that benefit the environment, the coffee product, and the farms directly. 

This project, carried out by the Valle Verde Association, is very important for the community in general. Through the reforestation of this region we can protect the water in the basins and micro-basins of our province.

Jose David Portocarrero. Todos al Agua project, Peru

All project activities are developed and implemented collaboratively with local regional farmers and their families to ensure real, long-lasting impact. 

“When you visit the farmers of any of these programs, you meet the best of humanity. You discover the passion that they have for their farms,”  says Sandra Kesselman. “It reminds you how lucky we are.”

Promoting Family Prosperity and Women’s Empowerment with RGC Coffee

Canterbury Coffee has partnered with RGC Coffee for over 30 years to source green coffee. RGC is one of North America’s leading independent importers. For the last two years we have partner with RGC to actively participate in their give back programs. RGC has 41 active projects that support 20,594 families across six different countries. 

We are currently working with RGC Coffee on the Cantuta Project based out of Huilla, Colombia. The goal of this project is to promote family prosperity in the region through the lens of gender equality. It focuses on economic empowerment and social recognition to uplift women in their communities. 

We’ve focused on empowerment of women so they’re not alone,” says Sandra.  “When you meet these women and see how they struggle for everything they do, and realize you can make a difference in their lives, it’s pretty humbling. . Their farms usually came to them from their father or their grandfathers, and they are keeping the farm going. It’s a passion that they share.

Sandra Kesselman

Locally and globally, the Canterbury Coffee team is committed to giving back. As a company, we’re very grateful to have the extraordinary opportunity to work alongside so many passionate individuals and groups committed to creating long-lasting, positive change. 

As we continue to lead with purpose, inspired and aided by so many others, we look forward to a better future for all. 

Interested in learning more about our Give Back programs? We welcome you to reach out to Sandra at skesselman@canterburycoffee.com