Dear Green – A Flourishing Coffee Business in the Heart of Glasgow

Credit: Holonomics Education

Last month while visiting Glasgow, Maria and I had the opportunity to visit Dear Green, an inspirational coffee roastery situated in the heart of Glasgow. The founder of Dear Green is Lisa Lawson, and we had an extremely interesting discussion with her about their philosophy of coffee, how and why the company was created, Lisa’s story of her many years of experience and training, including working in Australia, and also the way in which Dear Green have developed a business model which fully supports the coffee growers, their families and communities.

You can watch our interview in the video below:

I am a member of the Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group, a research team which has been developing and validating the Flourishing Business Canvas. In order to explain and describe their business, I thought it would be interesting to complete the canvas, as it helps to articulate not only how they are sustainable, but how this sustainability arises through a systemic approach and through the quality of their relationships, with clients, stakeholders, importers and the coffee-farms and communities from which the coffee is sourced. To see the larger version simply click on the image below:

Credit: Holonomics Education

The company was founded in 2011 with the goal of improving the quality of coffee available in Glasgow, and from the start, Lisa’s goal was to create an ethical coffee company with clear and consistent values. As a roastery, Dear Green source raw green coffee predominantly from Africa and Central and South America.  As Lisa says in the interview, “everything is driven around the coffee which we can source, and everything else around that has to match that level of commitment. So whether it be the living wage or carbon-neutral, so it is also about landfill”.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Dear Green’s customers and clients are therefore able to directly support the coffee-growing communities by not purchasing cheap and mass-market coffee. Since the coffee comes from mainly developing countries, their goal is to always give back to the communities, thus creating an authentic and long-term sustainable supply chain.

It was interesting to hear Lisa discuss the way in which Dear Green have grown, since financial growth has never been the main priority. I asked her to talk about soul in relation to Dear Green, and she answered, say that:

“My mentors say I am not driven by money, but the company has grown every year in terms of sales results. Soul is not a word I would use, but ethics, values and doing things from the heart, that’s where everything comes from as a business, and it has to, especially because of the product which we deal with. We are not interested in a lower-grade product and selling it at a high price in order to have a huge profit. We are interested in buying from the right farms which have the correct approach to sustainability and the future of the coffee industry, quality of flavour, seasonality and traceability. These are buzz words which a lot of people use, but we have a lot of integrity about the actual truth.”

Photo: Maria Moraes Robinson

In our book Customer Experiences with Soul, Maria and I define sustainability as “the quality of our relationships”. By developing long-term relationships with customers who really resonate with their values and ethics, and also by carefully choosing coffee-farms, importers and collectives which also share the same values, Dear Green have been able to grow organically and in a sustainable manner, therefore being able to create a business which is able to support the next generation of coffee-growers and the communities in which they are based.

Credit: BrewDog

This level of sustainability has been achieved through always offering the highest quality of coffee and also by focusing on ensuring that Dear Green offer an excellent level of customer service. One result of this focus on customer service, including the training of clients, was the development of a partnership with the Scottish brewery BrewDog, who explain why they chose Dear Green in this article: Dear Green and the BrewDog Blend.

Maria and I really enjoyed our visit to the roastery, and we would like to thank Lisa and the team for welcoming us and introducing us to their business. Lisa is a conscious business leader, and I think an excellent role model for young and aspiring entrepreneurs who have their own dreams of creating a business with purpose, values, ethics and soul. We hope you enjoy the interview, and to find out more please visit Dear Green’s website here: deargreencoffee.com

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