Issue 08 sponsor BELLWETHER COFFEE shares its approach to maintaining an inclusive mindset.
Roasting knowledge, on the other hand, has maintained a pretty small circle of resources, many difficult to access without money, connections, or time. Bellwether Coffee believes it’s time for this to change. In addition to producing the first-of-its-kind, zero-emissions, commercial roaster – no mean feat in and of itself – Bellwether is also working to democratize coffee roasting, to broaden the circle of who can be a roaster. “Our industry will be more inviting, open, and willing to listen to the ideas that make us all more connected, creative, and aware of what we do,” says CEO Nathan Gilliland.
To achieve its vision, Bellwether has woven a commitment to inclusivity throughout every aspect of what it does, from building company culture to building the hardware of the roaster itself. “It’s our guiding light, it’s a mindset,” says VP of Marketing Kimberly Noon. Not sure how to make your business more inclusive? To spark your imagination – and help you begin your own journey of inclusivity – Bellwether shares its approach to keep inclusivity at the heart of what it does.
Put Feedback First
Set a clear expectation that soliciting (and giving) feedback is a pillar of your business: you can’t be inclusive if you exist in a bubble. From the very beginning, all of Bellwether’s staff were encouraged to ask difficult questions about their assumptions and to be skeptical of the lofty goals they set for themselves.
Every week, the whole team gathers for a one-hour “stand up” meeting: while the topics are usually focused on critical feedback on the product and workflow, the team also has space to discuss things outside of Bellwether’s immediate focus and how it impacts employees’ daily lives. By making it clear, even during the hiring process, that everyone’s ideas are welcome, Bellwether uses feedback as a tactic to build both a strong internal company culture and an inclusive product.
It’s About Empathy
To avoid unintentional exclusion, Bellwether consistently engages a large group of people from every part of the supply chain to provide feedback on their ideas and their prototypes: What did they love about it? What did they not like? What would they do differently? The result: Bellwether built (and continues to refine) its product by addressing the answers it got to those questions. When people are skeptical – and Bellwether expects skepticism, it’s only natural! – it has likely encountered that particular concern or disbelief before in these extensive feedback sessions. It allows it to empathize. In fact, it’s likely it has already implemented a solution or a feature that addresses the concern.
Focus on Humanity
Many barriers exist to coffee roasting: expensive equipment, ventilation, training, access to green coffee – the list goes on. When it came time to design its physical product, the zero-emissions electric roaster, Bellwether was keen to eliminate as many of these as possible.
“We want to put this tool in the hands of more people, to broaden access to the value chain, and allow a larger group to creatively contribute to improving coffee roasting,” says Head of Sales Teresa von Fuchs. To do this, Bellwether utilizes a physical design schema to complement its inclusive values: human-centered design. When it began designing the roaster, every detail was considered: the size, shape, and composition of the roasting unit has been built with the people who will use it in mind. This philosophy even extends to Bellwether’s green coffee delivery: it uses boxes that weigh only 10 kg, instead of 60–70 kg hessian sacks.
Bellwether’s efforts to democratize coffee roasting have come not just from its inclusive culture, but from pulling in all ideas from broad and diverse groups. It will be interesting and engaging to watch the results of Bellwether’s inspirational goals in the years ahead!
Special Thanks to Our Issue 8 Sponsor, Bellwether
Bellwether makes more than a first-of-its-kind, zero-emissions, commercial roaster. They make it possible for you to source, create, roast, and share coffee in a responsible way that connects our community and brings equality to our industry. Learn more at bellwethercoffee.com.
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