A Deeper Shade of Green

Earth Day has always been a day of deep reflection and celebration for all of us here at Signature Coffee. Treating Mother Earth with love, care, and respect has been one of our guiding principles for over 35 years.  When we first started Signature Coffee, we were young enterprising hippies looking for a way to make a difference while making a living. Coffee was the perfect vehicle to achieve our dream. Back then, organic, fair trade, solar power, and carbon neutral, were all relatively new, or nonexistent.

 And now today, almost everyone has heard of sustainability and all the buzzwords that go with it. But how do you muddle through all the sustainability speak to choose the right coffee?   How do you know what companies lead from their heart to do the right thing, and what companies resort to greenwashing to capture their share of the market? According to the Business of Sustainability Index, (BOSI) for 2023, 68% of Americans said they would pay more for sustainable products. No wonder then that big businesses are jumping on the bandwagon to add organic products to their line and/or make large claims about how green they are.

 We know you want to make a difference by how you spend your hard-earned money. So how do you determine what shade of green your daily cup of joe is? Let us share some knowledge to help you distinguish between true green and greenwashing.


IS IT CERTIFIED ORGANIC?  Organic coffee does not use synthetic chemicals or fertilizers so it’s healthier for you and healthier for the planet. Look for a company that is 100% organic because they are truly committed to the cause. Beware of companies that just add organic products to cash in on the demand.  Note: 100% of the coffees offered at Signature Coffee are certified organic.

The organic certificate for Signagture Coffee.

IS THE COFFEE FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED? Choosing Fair Trade products supports responsible companies, empowers farmers, and protects the environment. Be sure to look for the Fair Trade label to ensure the product is certified. Beware of products labeled as “ethical” which is a very convenient way for companies to avoid detailing their practices and backing up their green appearance. Also, beware of companies touting direct trade without being transparent. Without that certified Fair Trade logo, you’ll need to dig a little deeper to investigate the company further.  Note: Here at Signature, we always opt for Fair Trade coffees when available.

IS YOUR COFFEE CARBON NEUTRAL? Being carbon neutral doesn’t mean that there are no carbon emissions. It means that the company has done everything it can to reduce its carbon emissions as much as possible, and then offsets the balance by planting trees. Because coffee cannot be grown here in the United States (except Hawaii), the carbon footprint of getting coffee here from halfway around the world is unavoidable. Note – Because we wanted to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem, we became a certified global cooling business in 2016 by having 2400 trees planted throughout Africa by Trees for the Future. 

The Carbon Audit and Global Cooling Certificate for Signature Coffee.


HOW GREEN IS THE COFFEE PACKAGING? For years, the coffee industry used foil bags with their glossy layers of metalized polyester and polyethylene that take more than 500 years to break down in our environment. Today, conscientious coffee roasters have switched to biodegradable or compostable bags. However, most of these must be done in industrial composting facilities or take hundreds of years to decompose in other environments like landfills or oceans. Signature Coffee has always, and will always package our coffee in plain paper bags. Just rip off the metal tin-tie and recycle it along with your other paper products.

DOES YOUR COFFEE ROASTER OFFER K-CUPS or COFFEE PODS? As stated above with packaging, even if they’re compostable, how many of these do you think go to an appropriate industrial composting facility? We believe that coffee roaster's should take a stand against these by not offering them!

An illustration stating that 1 coffee pod takes 500 years to decompose and more than 55 million of these are thrown away every single day.



  1. Do they encourage and reward the use of bringing your own mug? Around the world, almost 300 billion cups are thrown away every year! This level of waste is unsustainable and requires a commitment from individuals, retailers, and government agencies alike to initiate change! Note – from the day we first opened over 30 years ago, we have encouraged our customers to bring in their own mugs and rewarded them with a 25¢ discount for their efforts.
  2. Are they committed to serving organic milk and sugar options? Organic coffee is only one part of the equation. Why serve organic coffee if you’re going to add non-organic milk and sugar? Note - Here at our roastery in Redway, we offer organic milk options, organic sugars, and organic chocolate syrup. 
  3. Do they offer and encourage using reusable straws? This is just as important as eliminating disposable cups. A straw is manufactured in 1 minute, used for an average of 10 minutes, and takes almost a 100 years to decompose. “But it’s just one straw” said 8 billion people! Note - Signature Coffee has been offering personal straws for years ahead of anyone else.
A photo of reusable straws for sale with the caption "It's onlt one straw" said 8 billion people.


HOW EQUITABLE ARE THE PROFITS SHARED AT THE TOP? While the coffee industry often talks about fair trade and fair prices for those growing the coffee, what about fair wages for workers at the top of the coffee chain? Is it fair for all the profits to go only to the owners or top executives? NOTE – At Signature Coffee we have always rewarded our employees with a share of the profits in the form of bonuses. We are currently in the process of converting to a worker-owned cooperative, ensuring fairness and equality for all.

Here at Signature, we honor Mother Earth every day by treating her with the love and care she deserves. Green America and the certified Green Business Network has awarded us a gold level certification for our efforts.

The Green America Gold Certificate,


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