Green Spotlight: Strictly Organic Coffee Co.

Since they day they opened in 1999, Strictly Organic Coffee Co., as their name suggests, have been dedicated to sustainable business practices. Since they’ve been Green Spot members with The Environmental Center for many years, we thought we’d check in for an update.

Since their inception Strictly Organic’s dedication to organic, fair trade, and locally-sourced products has created business challenges but has also generated positive change. Co-owner Rhonda Ealy took some time out of her busy day to tell share some examples from the past and some exciting news.

Rhonda explained that one of the big challenges in the early days was finding organic milk. Their Bond street location alone uses 225 gallons of milk per week. However, prior to 2006 the only sources were local grocer’s like “Nature’s Market” or “Wild Oats” (ask a local). Our local milk distributor Eberhard’s didn’t carry any organic milk to sell at more competitive rates for high volume businesses like Strictly Organic. However, Strictly Organic worked to demonstrate that there was a demand and eventually Eberhard’s started bringing in Organic Valley products from Wisconsin.

This August, eleven years later, Eberhard’s will be selling a locally sourced organic milk from a Madras farm. I called and spoke to Bob Eberhard and he said the milk will also be available in Central Oregon grocery stores for retail purchase. The milk will come from a dairy farm in Madras.

For a businesses like Strictly Organic that have sustainability as a key component of their business model (for example, they deliver by bike locally), reducing the distance a product like milk travels is a really big deal. That’s about 1,900 fewer miles your milk has to drive to reach your latte’.

So, it’s worth recognizing that small businesses with strict standards that may fly in the face of conventional wisdom can have a big impact. Strictly Organic was one of the first 14 coffee roasters in the country to be 100% fair trade, and at another point, by chance, met someone who was producing compostable cups, lids and flatware for the military. When Rhonda said they wanted to use the products in their stores for retail, they helped launch the first consumer compostable product line.

One local business with a commitment to doing everything they can to be as environmentally friendly and as socially equitable as possible can make a big difference. Please remember to support your local Green Spot because they really do put your dollars to work.