Our Principles of Coffee Justice

Our Principles of Coffee Justice

We set out to create a coffee company that sees beyond the status quo of the coffee industry. Our promise is to honor, reflect and simply do right by the cultures and communities that produce this cherished fruit that the world loves. At Tinycup, fulfilling this promise necessitates that we engage frequently with critical ideas and harness disciplines like design justice1 and equity-centered community design2 in the development of our brand, our products, and our business practices.

Specifically, this means that we commit to centering people who, and experiences that, are normally marginalized by the coffee industry.

Specifically, it means using collaborative and creative practices to contribute to solving the deepest challenges our industry and our communities face.

Specifically, it means remaining focused on problem solving that is rooted in equity, humility-building, integrating history and healing practices, addressing power dynamics, and co-creating with the those communities made vulnerable by industry, institutions, and systems of inequity.

We make a daily commitment to an ethic of constant revision to better ensure that we are upholding a promise to ourselves and to our customers, to coffee growers and our partners, to other Black- and minority-owned coffee businesses and to the coffee industry writ large.

To support ourselves in fulfilling promise, we developed and adopted principles that will guide our approach to coffee roasting and our growth as a businessWe think of these principles holistically, implementing them as interconnected and interdependent parts of our operations. 

We hope to contribute to a more just and equitable industry that honors coffee's origins and respects the rights and dignity its communities.

See Design Justice Network - Design Justice Principles
See Creative Reaction Lab - Equity-Centered Community Design
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Our Principles of Coffee Justice

1. Community Collaboration & Centering Marginalized Voices

As we start up, we are beginning to build the infrastructure necessary to sustain a meaningful collaboration directly with the communities involved in coffee production. From the rolling hills of the Southwestern region of Ethiopia to the countryside mountains of the Dominican Republic, we are striving to ensure that the experiences of these coffee communities (including our family) actively shape our organizational design, roasting practices, and business decisions by actively seeking out and amplifying their voices, stories and guidance.

2. Ethical Sourcing and Trade

We will chose our partnerships carefully. Any supply chain conversation that doesn’t begin with a commitment to fair and ethical sourcing practices is a nonstarter.

All of our operations will support the well-being and fair compensation of the individuals and communities involved in coffee production.

Our partners, thus far, have included Abyssinia Specialty Coffee (a direct trade supplier based in Springfield, VA) and Tenadam International Market (based in Falls Church, VA).

3. Decolonizing Practices

Tinycup's founding is rooted in a commitment to critically examining and challenging colonial and exploitative practices.

We will preserve and elevate traditions and practices of our family and indigenous coffee communities by prioritizing lived experiences as data that informs our roasting and business practices. We willcontribute to movements focused on redistributing power, wealth and access to resources,providing educationand building pathways to racial equity in the coffee industry.

4. Community Over Competition

We will operate with a mindset of abudance, not scarcity. This means that we cooperate, show love, share knowledge, and spend time with our peers and learn from our elders in the coffee industry.

We pay respect to, and have been inspired by, the work of pioneers in coffee to, not only bring quality product to the market but, demand gender and racial equity along the way. We will consistently promote all of the achievements, organizing, education, anti-gentrification and decolonization efforts of our brothers and sisters in coffee across the country and world—from Oakland to Memphis, Atlanta to the DMV, East Africa to West Africa, Brazil to the Dominican Republic. We look forward to growing meaningful friendships and partnerships with you.

5. Accessibility & Inclusivity

We aim to design products, packaging, and materials that are accessible, inclusive, and sustainable. We incorporate principles of equity-centered and human-centered design, and continuously seek new ways to ensure that everyone can have meaningful experiences with coffee. Additionally, we consider the long-term impact on the environment and strive to eliminate negative outcomes for the planet. We are committed to accountability and ongoing improvement in our practices.

6. Economic Justice

We will be thoughtful and careful about the economic impact of our business operations and aim to contribute positively to the economic well-being of the communities involved in coffee production locally and globally.

We are also exploring investment and wealth-sharing opportunities that will distribute ownership and wealth earned from our products back to our customers and to the coffee growing community equitably.

As we learn more from existing players in the industry demanding racial and economic justice, we will build on and be transparent about our strategies, inclusive of critical elements like equitable market access, fair trade, supportive policies, education and training, and more.

For now, we stand ready to support efforts by organizations like the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity.

7. Transparency & Accountability

As we grow and learn, we are actively seeking ways to increase transparency about our products and business practices. We will hold ourselves accountable for our stated claims and ultimately our impact on communities, the environment, and social justice.

Additionally, we will be supportive friends and colleagues by reciprocating accountability partnership; calling one another in when needed. Furthermore, we will support and contribute to efforts that increase transparency and accountability from the coffee industry.