Equator Coffees & Teas, Inc.

Coffee and Tea

San Rafael, California

United States


About Equator Coffees and Teas

Equator Coffees and Teas is a women-owned, green-certified coffee roaster based in Marin, CA. Founded in 1995 by Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell, Equator's commitment to a sustainable, transparent approach spans more than two decades. Equator’s unwavering pursuit of quality leads to socially and environmentally responsible business decisions that ensure a steady supply of quality coffee into the future.

Equator was one of the first truly boutique wholesale coffee roasters in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the past 22 years, Equator's careful attention to quality, deep and mutually beneficial relationships with their global farm partners, and unparalleled dedication to high-touch customer service. Equator was the first roaster in the Bay Area to sign onto the Fair Trade Certified program. Additionally, Equator in collaboration with Boot Coffee owns and operates a coffee farm, Finca Sophia, in Panama.

Today, Equator operates five cafes in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2016, the U.S. Small Business Administration honored Equator by naming us the "National Small Business of the Year." Since their founding, they have been a leader in sustainability and social responsibility.

Equator’s philosophy on coffee is built from a question: how do they create value from their perch in the coffee supply chain, standing at the intersection between local and distant coffee communities? It is this question that continues to frame Equator's narrative as they strive to grow a business that values the stakeholders in both communities with respect for the people, the process, and the product. Equator believes that quality underlies economic and environmental sustainability, and this is the pillar of their approach. Equator support​s environmentally sound certifications, as well as practices that produce the highest quality coffee while securing a dignified life for those who produce it.

We’ve always taken a holistic approach to our business by considering the impact of our decisions — not just the bottom line — on our employees, suppliers, community, farmers, and the environment. B Corporation certification is a third-party certification for companies like us that want to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

Equator was one of the first truly boutique wholesale coffee roasters in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the past 17 years Equator has been known for careful attention to quality, deep and mutually beneficial relationships with the farmers at origin, and unsurpassed hi-touch customer service. Equator was also the first roaster in the Bay Area to sign onto the Fair Trade Certified program; one of only a handful of roasters in the country to buy its own coffee farm, Finca Sophia, in Panama; and one of the first roasters in the U.S. to purchase the locally manufactured Loring Smart Roaster, which uses 80% less natural gas during the roasting process. The belief that the specialty coffee industry must be economically sustainable for farmers at origin to be a sustainable business at home informs the many social enterprise projects in which Equator is involved at origin, and is the basis for the micro-credit loans the company issues to farmers and producers, as well as the numerous food security projects Equator leads in Central America and Africa.

The Change We Seek®

Every cup of coffee has a story: of its region, altitude, climate, soil, production method, and the farmer who grew it. Equator’s passion is bringing that story to life. When they cup each new coffee over and over again to ensure that its finest characteristics are revealed, they are honoring the farmers who grew the beans, while striving to provide their customers with the most deeply satisfying, responsible cup of coffee possible. Because quality starts on the farm, excellent coffee is never about a single certification, continent, growing practice, or varietal. It’s about relationships with the people who produce it.

They seek a world in which business partnerships in the global coffee community are mutually beneficial for farmers, consumers, roasters, and retailers.

What makes us a better company?

B Impact Report

Certified since: 

December 2011

Company Score

Median Score*



The Environment section of the Assessment evaluates a company's environmental performance through its facilities; materials, resource, and energy use; and emissions. Where applicable, it also considers a company's transportation/distribution channels and environmental impact of its supply chain. This section also measures whether a company's products or services are designed to solve an environmental issue, including products that aid in the provision of renewable energy, conserve resources, reduce waste, promote land/wildlife conservation, prevent toxic/hazardous substance or pollution, or educate, measure, or consult to solve environmental problems.



The Worker section of the survey assesses the company's relationship with its workforce. This section measures how the company treats its workers through compensation, benefits, training, and ownership opportunities provided to workers. It also focuses on the overall work environment within the company through management/worker communication, job flexibility and corporate culture, and worker health and safety practices.



The Customers section of the Assessment measures the impact a company has on its customers. The section focuses on whether a company sells products or services that promote public benefit, and if those products/services are targeted towards serving underserved populations. Questions in this section will measure whether a company's product or service is designed to solve a social or environmental issue (e.g. improves health, preserves environment or creates economic opportunity to individuals or communities, promotes the arts/sciences, or increases the flow of capital to purpose-driven enterprises).



The Community section of the survey assesses a company's impact on its community. The Community section evaluates a company's supplier relations, diversity, and involvement in the local community. The section also measures the company's practices and policies around community service and charitable giving. In addition, this section includes if a company's product or service is designed to solve a social issue, including access to basic services, health, education, economic opportunity, arts, and increasing the flow of capital to purpose-driven enterprises.



The Governance section of the Assessment evaluates a company's accountability and transparency. The section focuses on the company's mission, stakeholder engagement, and overall transparency of the company's practices and policies.

Overall B Score

80 out of 200 is eligible for certification

*Of all businesses that have completed the B Impact Assessment

*Median scores will not add up to overall

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Company Highlights: 

Governance: Board of Directors reviews social and environmental performance at least annually; Produce annual external report that includes third-party validation of company's mission performance; >5% of company owned by employees; 100% of company owned by individuals from underrepresented populations 

Workers: 100% of employees participated in bonus plan; Based on compensation study, company's compensation structure is above market; Employee Retirement Plan includes Socially-Responsible Investing option; 33% of employees participate in external professoinal development opportunities

Community: Choose suppliers based on specific social and envionmental criteria; >50% of suppliers subjected to regular quality assurance reviews; >40% of cost of company's product is spent with local suppliers; Donate >1% of profits to charity

Environment: >50% of printed materials use recycle paper content, FSC certified paper or soy-based inks; >5% of energy used is from renewable sources and has increased; >25% of company vehicles are clean/low-emission vehicles