Coffee Leaves

Coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Demand is expected to triple by 2050, which means farmers and manufacturers will have to produce more than twice as much coffee as they do today. This may seem like good news until you consider that coffee is grown on 12.5 million farms worldwide, of which 67–80% are smallholder farms­. With climate change threats also growing as C-market prices drop, farmers are struggling to cover production costs and make ends meet.

Farmers, manufacturers and operators are sharing many of the concerns surrounding these recent shifts. At the same time, consumers are taking notice and using their purchasing power to support brands that align with their values—even if it means paying a premium for sustainably sourced products. According to a 2018 study from Hanover Research, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible brands, and a 2018 Nielsen report revealed that 73% of consumers would change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact.

Although we don’t have the answer to this projected supply and demand imbalance, we do have the ability to respond. As the largest custom coffee roaster in the nation, S&D Coffee & Tea can actively engage farmers, our employees, our customers and on-the-ground sustainability experts in creating different options to build resiliency and help alleviate the burden of these challenges. Here’s a closer look at how Raíz Sustainability®, the proprietary sustainable sourcing platform we introduced in 2015, is impacting our sustainable coffee at scale—and what it means for consumers, the industry and the environment.

Olga speaking with farmer in Nicaragua


Raíz ensures the well-being of smallholder farms, expands the market for sustainably grown ingredients and builds a resilient global supply chain with coffee manufactured at scale. Offering an inclusive approach to small-scale and medium-scale farmers, S&D works closely with our partners in various countries of origin to implement long-term solutions that successfully mitigate sustainability challenges. We engage smallholder farmers through our network of on-the-ground agronomist and export partners while providing them with immediate access to education and vital resources. The result is a platform—and collaborative process—that addresses social, environmental and economic industry issues to make a lasting positive impact.

Coffee Cherries


Sustainable sourcing is at the core of Raíz. Ingredients are grown naturally and cultivated with care while conserving precious natural resources. While we support third-party certifications, our sourcing model reaches even further so we can see directly into our supply chain and create relationships with the smallholder farmers who make our scalable production possible. From training and cash premiums to our vast network of on-the-ground agronomists and export partners, we provide the resources farmers need to ensure long-term viability for their land and business.

S&D Truck


At S&D, we believe impact grows out of improvement. That’s why we are always looking for ways to reduce waste and streamline our operations of sustainable coffee at scale to ensure quality and transparency—from farm to cup. “Operational efficiency goes hand in hand with sustainability. Our team has a passion for continuous improvement, which includes building a unified and caring environment internally, while also protecting our natural resources and the environment that surrounds us,” says Joey Edwards, Beverage Operations Manager at S&D. “Being aware of how we use our natural resources, such as water, leads to both increased efficiency and resource conservation.” 

Our sustainability efforts begin at our Concord, North Carolina, headquarters and span coffee-producing communities in Central America, South America and Mexico. Whether it’s a new production program (such as our gray water recycling system) or targeted management of our fleet trucks (resulting in a 7.67% reduction in fuel consumption from 2016 to 2017), we continue to hit milestones that move our business—and the industry—forward.

Close up of a coffee roaster


We know what it takes to develop and maintain a sustainability program from the ground up, and we understand concerns about supply chain risks and sales trajectories. Through Raíz and our scaled, sustainable coffee production process, we’re able to drive sales across all segments by meeting current—and future—demands with an assured supply. Thanks to our advanced computer-controlled roasting facility, we have become experts in producing scalable quantities of sustainable coffee. This ensures consistency in every batch, backed by traceability and responsibility.

COFCO (Osmar Nunes)

At S&D, we’re passionate about making a difference, but with the many sustainability challenges on the horizon, we can’t do it alone. Our Raíz platform has enabled us to deepen our understanding of sustainability and strengthen relationships so we can expand collaborative efforts around the world. By working to ensure the well-being of farmers and their communities, as well as the place we all call home, we are helping to make a lasting change for the better. When farmers, manufacturers and operators partner with us, our story becomes theirs to share.