The entrepreneur combatting climate change one cup at a time
Extract from a newspaper interview with Cristina Talens, Founder of Source Climate Change Coffee Cristina Talens was interviewed by the Harrogate Advertiser in Yorkshire.
1. In a nutshell, what does your company do?
We produce single origin organic gourmet coffees from Cloud Forest communities in Africa and Latin America. We only buy from communities that are working to address deforestation and mitigate climate change. By purchasing carbon credits each bag of coffee offsets 1kg of CO2 through the planting of new trees.
2. How did the company begin, and how has it grown?
I was inspired to create Source Climate Change Coffee after hearing Professor Sir David King, give a speech on climate change at my younger sister’s graduation. Having then sourced my first 5kgs of coffee from Mexico, I was invited to meet Bill Clinton at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi and also to serve the coffee at the Rio+20 (the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012). The delegates loved the coffee and that was it! Source Climate Change Coffee was born. In Harrogate, it is selling at Lengs, Fodder, Rasmus, Vanillis and the new Zinc café on John Street as well as other outlets across the UK. A second coffee from Mount Elgon in Uganda will be launched this autumn.
3. What do you do?
Everything – with some occasional help from my friends (and those who can be bribed with a good cup of coffee).
4. What is your education and business background? I originally studied international business and languages at Leeds Metropolitan University. Although I loved the subject, I just felt that business was missing the human angle and so I started working for Anti-Slavery International on Labour and Human rights. About 10 years ago, I came back to Harrogate as ethical trade manager for Bettys & Taylors and this is where I learnt the coffee trade.
5. If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Difficult question, because I’ve always followed my heart and my convictions… so I’ve never been bored or wished I could be doing something else. But if I could have been something else, I would have been a musician, I think. I still wish I could play the guitar well enough to play in a band!
6. What motivates you?
The belief that profit, quality, ethics and sustainability all go hand in hand. I really think that we need to change the way we do things as businesses. This is a time and an opportunity for companies and people who are creative in their ways of thinking.
7. What sets your company apart from the competition?
Source Climate Change Coffee is the first coffee in the UK with its own carbon credit number providing 100% traceability to the communities where the coffee is grown, Each bag & tin has a unique tracking number to show the farmers’ on-going conservation efforts at the cloud forest of origin. Our coffee allows customers to do their bit to address climate change.
8. What is the most difficult challenge your company has faced? And what challenges are you experiencing at the moment?
As there are only so many cloud forest areas, my biggest challenge has been and is, finding high quality coffees, where the growers are undertaking reforestation and conservation activities. Balancing the speed of growth with the available funding is always a little tricky.
9. Have you got a five-year goal for the company?
Not really, I simply want to establish the Source Climate Change Coffee brand as a producer of some of the best single origin coffees in the UK, whilst at the same time leading the sustainability agenda. I’d love for it to be in a big retailer, that also has strong sustainability values, to be able to get it out to a wider audience.
10. What one thing do you wish you had known when you started out in business?
Setting up something totally new takes time! Manage your expectations and keep them realistic.
11. What excites you about business?
That it can be used to great ends if it’s done well and people like what you do. I think it’s a great time for creative business thinkers that want to do something different.
12. What is your pet hate in business?
The short sighted view of profits over everything else and at all costs.
13. What advice would you give to people just starting their careers?
Do something that you are passionate about and you believe in. Work takes up most of your day, so make sure that you like what you do, no matter how weird and wonderful it may be and try to surround yourself with good people. Also, recognise that you need some practical experience on the job before anyone will take you seriously.
14. Who in business do you most admire, and why?
I thought Anita Roddick was absolutely brilliant, totally fearless, driven and extremely creative. She was also the one that brought sustainability into the mainstream, and did it all whilst bringing up her children.
15. What moments of your career so far stand out?
There are actually four moments that really stand out; The first time I visited the Ashaninka tribe in the Amazon and watched the forests generating the clouds; the day I had the first bag of Source Climate Change Coffee in my hands; hearing Professor Sir David King speak about the challenges of climate change in the 21st Century and; finally putting a bag of climate change coffee into his hands 5 years later.