More Than Just Java: These Small-Batch Coffee Roasters Give Back

Coffee Roasters coffee mug on a light blue background
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There’s arguably never been a better time to make coffee at home. Gone are the days of being limited to plastic containers of mass-produced ground coffee—now grocery stores have whole aisles showcasing high-quality beans from coffee roasters all over the country.



Given the sheer number of incredible roasteries across the U.S.—and the wide range of preferences for how people like their coffee—it’s impossible to say who’s the best of the best. Instead, we’re focusing on those that make stellar coffee and are forces for good in their communities. From sustainable ingredient sourcing to assisting the underserved and more, the eight coffee roasters below are going the extra mile.


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Our Favorite Small-Batch Coffee Roasters

1. Driftaway Coffee

While many coffee roasters claim to have transparent ingredients in their bags (listing out the bean type and any additives, for example), Driftaway Coffee, a sustainability-focused coffee roaster from Brooklyn, takes it a step further. Everything about the company’s coffee sourcing is public record, including where the beans come from and how much the farmers are paid. Driftaway’s packaging is also 100-percent compostable (it’s made entirely from plant-based materials) and the company offsets the emissions of its shipments as well.

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2. Nostalgia Coffee Roasters

Baristas at coffee shops often work for tips, which can be a feast or famine existence. Taylor Fields, the founder of San Diego-based roaster Nostalgia, decided to change that: She created a pay structure so that full-time team members would never have to work two jobs (impressive considering San Diego isn’t a particularly cheap city to live in). Each staffer is paid a salary, or what Fields calls “a thriving wage.” The coffee is thriving, too: Each of Nostalgia’s blends has earned at least 90 points from Coffee Review.

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3. Greater Goods Coffee Co.

With a name like Greater Goods, it’s no surprise that this roaster has altruistic motives to go with its signature blends. The couple behind the Austin, TX-based label partner exclusively with producers who follow sustainable agriculture practices and pay fair wages to their workers. But that’s not all: Each bag of Greater Goods coffee sold helps support one of four Texas charity organizations, and the company even set up a training lab where you can learn everything from how to make latte art to how to become a coffee taster.

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4. Oakland Coffee Works

We won’t point fingers, but celebrity forays into the food and beverage realm can often be pretty lackluster. That’s not the case with Oakland Coffee Works, a coffee roastery helmed by Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool of the band Green Day. The brand utilizes only certified organic beans from a network of small farms and cooperatives and follows fair trade practices to ensure farmers make a living wage. Coffee-wise, the label focuses on single-origin roasts, and that dedication has shown impressive results: It makes some genuinely tasty, smooth-sipping java.

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5. Treeline Coffee Roasters

It wasn’t enough for this Bozeman, MT coffee roaster to make coffee that tastes good. The team behind the brand also wanted their coffee to do good. One roast, called Outdoors (Wo)man, uses an entirely female supply chain in an effort to empower female growers, harvesters, and importers. The Unity Blaze Blend seeks to promote unity in the outdoors through a partnership with the organization Black Folks Camp Too. The owners are also highly involved in the sourcing process and regularly visit their growers across the world. We recommend Treeline’s Yu-Ba-Le-La roast, which serves up rich notes of dark chocolate and black cherry.

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6. Kaladi Brothers Coffee

Did you know that Anchorage, AK has the second-highest number of coffee shops per capita in the nation? Residents of the 49th state take their coffee consumption seriously. Chances are good that if you visit a locally owned cafe in Alaska’s largest city, the bean of choice will be a Kaladi Brothers Coffee roast. The company is Alaska’s favorite coffee roaster for a reason: Not only is the coffee top-notch, but the brand actively gives back to the community in ways big and small (often through donations of its adventure-fueling java at local events).

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7. Bean & Bean Coffee Roasters

If you’re looking for a cup of coffee that has an impact, Bean & Bean Coffee Roasters in New York City is a solid choice. Not only can you trace the origin of its beans all the way back to the farmer (who is often female—part of the brand’s ongoing efforts to bridge the gender gap in the industry), but the roaster also donates one percent of all proceeds to the Costa Rica-based Sloth Institute to help injured sloths reintegrate into healthy ecosystems. Be sure to try the honey coffee—it’s a bit sweeter than regular coffee, so you can probably skip the sugar packet.

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8. Shared Notes

When you consider what pairs well with white wine, coffee likely doesn’t come to mind. But Shared Notes, a joint venture by husband-and-wife team Jeff Pisoni and Bibiana González Rave, is unique in that it’s both a dynamic winery (making predominantly sauvignon blanc) and a coffee roastery, too. Shared Notes has some very specific requirements for the farms that it sources coffee beans from. Each farm needs to be 100-percent fair trade, organic, and female-owned. The result? A more equitable and sustainable supply chain, and some very tasty coffee.

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