Nomad Coffee Group explains how it became B Corp Certified

Nomad Coffee Group

Nomad Coffee Group discusses the road to becoming B Corp Certified, what it means to its collection of specialty coffee brands, and how it ensures continuous improvement.

Becoming a Certified B Corporation is no easy feat, and not one many companies achieve on their first try, but Nomad Coffee Group, the parent company of Veneziano Coffee Roasters, is happy to join the exclusive club.

“This certification allows us to make a statement to the industry and to our customer base that meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency is incredibly important to us,” says Nomad Coffee Group Sustainability Manager Nick Percy.

“This is something that we put a lot of time and effort into. We knew how extensive the process would be and went into it wholeheartedly and hopeful. The initial mindset was ‘we think we’re ready, so let’s have a crack and see how we go’. We were expecting a list of areas to improve on between then and the next application. But we had done the hard yards and achieved the certification on our first attempt.”

B Lab is the non-profit organisation that certifies Benefit Corporations (B Corps), the name given to successful companies that achieve the certification. It is a unique undertaking that measures a company’s entire social and environmental impact. Those that make it through the rigorous process are considered leaders in the global movement of an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.

The process began back in 2020 when Nomad Coffee Group’s sustainability committee, which includes Nick, People and Culture Manager Amie Jacobson, and Head of Procurement Jack Allisey, considered the company’s materiality matrix and what was important to its internal and external stakeholders. What came to the surface were two clear sustainable goals: becoming carbon neutral certified by government- backed initiative Climate Active, and achieving B Corp certification. It ticked off the first objective in 2022, then set its sights on the second.

“We liked B Corp because it was an all- encompassing certification. There are quite a few certifications out there that are pretty narrow in their focus, whereas this involved many impact area pillars, including our employees, our customers, the environment, the community, and all the ways in which we generate a profit,” Amie says.

Veneziano Coffee Roasters aims to source the highest quality coffees for its blends and seasonal microlots.

“As far as our day-to-day operations go, we do a lot of good work here because that’s who we are as a company. Becoming B Corp Certified was a great way to demonstrate that and measure our success.”

Down to business

Jack says the process of becoming B Corp Certified was much more in depth than simply “a tick and flick” or marking a checkbox.

“We definitely identified this as quite an aspirational goal of ours. We’d been very coffee-focused up until we set our sights on B Corp, so switching gears and focusing on all aspects of the business was an important step for us,” he says.

To become B Corp Certified, a company must demonstrate high social and B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and pass a risk review. The median score for businesses who complete the assessment is currently 50.9. Nomad Coffee Group scored 90.3.

The B Impact Assessment is broken down into five key areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. Governance evaluates a company’s overall mission and engagement around its social and environmental impact, ethics, and transparency. Nomad Coffee Group scored 13.5 in this area, while the average score for comparative sector and business sizes is six.

“In 2022 we implemented a paid parental leave scheme offering to employees which covers paid leave and superannuation to help close the gap between superannuation retirement funds,” Nick says.

“Our policy aligns with key Workplace Gender Equality Australia guidelines, and we are proud to share a values-driven policy which positively impacts the lives of our employees.”

The workers category evaluates a company’s contributions to its employees’ financial security, health and safety, wellness, career development, and engagement and satisfaction. Nomad Coffee Group scored 20.8, while the median score for similar-sized businesses is 17.

“Nomad Coffee Group has established wellbeing programs including company- subsidised work outs, an RUOK wellbeing committee, and onsite massages. We also initiated annual leave programs to allow employees to purchase up to two weeks of extra leave over the year, to support work life balance and longer holidays,” says Amie.

The community sector evaluates a company’s engagement with and impact on the communities in which it operates, hires, and sources from. In this area, Nomad Coffee Group scored 27.6. The median score is 20.

“We continue to source the highest quality coffees to go into our blends and our seasonal microlots. As our business grows, we’ve increased our purchases from key partners at origin in Central and South America as well as new relationships in Vietnam,” says Jack.

One of those key partners is farmer Rigoberto Herrera, who produces the Colombia Cerro Azul La Esperanza Geisha Natural. Veneziano Coffee Roasters Head Barista Gabrel Tan used this lot in the 2023 Vitasoy Australian Barista Championship.

The Colombia Cerro Azul La Esperanza Geisha Natural produced by farmer Rigoberto Herrera.

“We’ve been working with this farm for many years now and seeing the progression of these coffees and how Rigoberto has dialled in the processing technique to achieve the flavour profile has blown us all away,” says Gabrel.

The environment category evaluates a company’s overall environmental management practices as well as its impact on the air, climate, water, land, and biodiversity. This includes the direct impact of a company’s operations and, when applicable, its supply chain and distribution channels. Nomad Coffee Group scored 25.5, which is about the same as the average.

“We continue to embed sustainability culture into our every day at Nomad Coffee Group. Our commitment to sustainability and protecting the future of coffee is paramount and at the forefront of our business decisions, primarily evident in the achievement of our Carbon Neutral Organisation accreditation by Climate Active in March 2022,” Amie says.

Customers evaluates a company’s stewardship of its customers through the quality of its products and services, ethical marketing, data privacy and security, and feedback channels. Nomad Coffee Group scored 2.6, and the average score is two.

“We have partnered with Miir, a reusable coffee container manufacturer and have implemented a swap-and-go program where customers simply fill their canister with beans which helps reduce packaging consumption, and with Closed Loop to give our café customers options for recycling single use coffee cups,” says Nick.

Nomad Coffee Group CEO Craig Dickson says the certification allowed the company to highlight the areas of business it already excelled in on a daily basis.

“A positive thing that came out of this process was recognising where we were already doing a great job, especially in our people and culture engagement scores. It gave us a chance to celebrate and reflect on the good that we do and have done for a long time. This includes launching a paid volunteering program allowing employees to work in employee nominated charities on Nomad Coffee Group paid time,” he says.

The company has made a significant investment in the last year to achieve its B Corp and Climate Active certifications.

“Our size certainly made the process more complicated than if we were still a smaller, single brand business. We have over 140 employees across Australia and New Zealand, operate across six sites, and roast 80 to 100 tonnes of coffee a week. For us to achieve this certification allows us to set a benchmark for bigger companies in the industry to understand the magnitude of this process,” Craig says.

Forward focus

As leaders in the movement for economic systems change, Jack says being B Corp Certified reaps remarkable benefits.

“The certification underpins a lot of our values within the business and reflects our overall mission of ‘everyday evolution’. It builds trust with our consumers, communities, and suppliers, attracts and retains employees, and draws mission-aligned investors. It shows that we operate in a sustainable way, makes us reputable within the industry and displays that we’re a high-class employer and a great place to work,” Jack says.

“It’s always been in the business’s DNA to go down this road. Primarily, we’re in business to make coffee and a profit, but we have an opportunity through that process to make a positive impact and use our business as a force for good.”

B Corp certification applies to all companies under the Nomad Coffee Group: Veneziano Coffee Roasters, Black Bag Roasters, Coffee Hit, and Flight Coffee. To ensure Nomad Coffee Group maintains and retains its high sustainability targets, the company reports its progress to the company board quarterly.

“It’s definitely not a ‘set and forget’, it’s something that’s constantly monitored. We’re proud of the work we do and want to continue making a difference every day,” Amie says.

While Nomad Coffee Group is extremely proud of its B Impact Assessment score, there’s always room for improvement.

“Although we’re healthily above the benchmark, we want to get our score up to triple figures within the next certification period of three years,” Nick says.

Jack adds that Nomad Coffee Group is still looking to improve its waste reduction, minimise use of packaging and make it even more recyclable, and tackle carbon offsets.

“We’re constantly challenging ourselves to be better. Being B Corp Certified helps us set a benchmark and pushes us to improve,” he says.

“It’s vital that we do our part and step up as an industry leader in Australia, to show that not only is it possible for larger businesses such as ours to obtain B Corp Certification, but that it’s affordable and accessible for all.”

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This article appears in the June 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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