Going Green: Kua
The Sydney coffee supplier that's giving businesses more than just a caffeine buzz.
Many of us love a cup of coffee in the morning (or afternoon, or later). But the ethical and environmental impacts of this delicious drink can be a bitter truth to swallow – think poor wages that verge on slavery, deforestation for new crops and waste that adds to our growing landfill problems.
Thankfully, a growing number of coffee suppliers and companies are addressing these issues head-on. In Sydney, that includes Kua – a social enterprise that supplies fair coffee to businesses. In fact, the Finder crew in Sydney have been getting their daily brew from Kua since February 2019.
After winning the 2019 CitySwitch NSW and Australian new signatory of the year and partnership of the year awards together, we thought it was time to hear more about the Kua journey from co-founder Darcy Small.
What does your company do and how is it green?
It's taken us nearly two years to neatly describe what we do, but here it is: world-positive coffee for workplaces.
We buy specialty coffee direct from farmers in Uganda and deliver it in reusable canisters to our amazing partner workplaces around the city – like Finder. Kua is also a certified social enterprise, which means it's a purpose-first organisation. For us, that means sending 100% of our profits to fund community development initiatives where our coffee is grown.
What's unique and green about Kua is our closed-loop model. Our service is zero waste, and all spent coffee grounds are collected for repurposing with our reuse partners like Indigigrow and Raise the Bar.
Longer-term, our big goal is to have an overall positive impact on the world. We're not there yet, but it involves creating an amazing experience for our customers, driving social impact at every node of our value chain, embedding the principles of the circular economy within our resource streams and – more than just offsetting our carbon footprint – becoming carbon positive.
Today, being "green" goes well beyond planting trees and recycling paper. Our team is young and idealistic, so we'd like to take it to the extreme. Hopefully others follow suit.
What inspires you and your business to be green?
Our whole team took time off to attend Sydney's climate strikes. There were so many people there and it was a pretty awesome (but stark) reminder that being green is really really really important.
The climate crisis truly is the challenge of our time, and it's amazing to spend most of my week working with people who care about enacting change.
Businesses that are forward-thinking in this space are genuinely inspiring. I love seeing leaders and organisations stepping up to redefine the norm. We need to draw a line around what's okay and what's not. We should be taking responsibility for our environmental impact and, luckily for us, we get to work directly with many of the most progressive organisations simply by supplying them coffee.
Travel has also opened my eyes to the injustice of our actions by challenging me to rethink my own consumption. I guess the irony here is that international travel has a huge environmental footprint.
Even with a cup of coffee – an everyday thing – it's so difficult to visualise the negative impacts that consumption has on people and planet.
Did we pay the farmers fairly? Where did it come from? Where does the waste end up? As Australians, we rarely experience such impacts first-hand.
I think for an organisation like ours, with strong ties to Uganda and having witnessed our coffee-growing region already battling with the effects of climate change, we have a moral responsibility to be as green as possible and to keep pushing the boundaries with what's possible.
Why is being green personally important to you?
I grew up in Crescent Head. It's a beautiful coastal town tucked pretty much halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. My family of five were crammed into a tiny house at the top of the hill and the whole place is surrounded by national parks. So I'd spend most of my time outside: surfing, walking, exploring.
For me, natural places like this remind me how important it is to look after our environment.
Could you describe one small step people could take towards being greener?
Go camping. For those living in Sydney, it's pretty amazing that we're just a couple of hours' drive (or train ride) from "wilderness".
I always find that escaping the city and experiencing our incredible beaches and bush is a great motivator for being greener.
At home, a step that people could take is to drop a day or two of those meat meals, or try kangaroo. We had pulled kangaroo tacos at home the other night and they were delicious.
What is one resource that you think people should read/watch/consume to understand more about sustainability and going green?
Patagonia is a company that inspires us. They're "in business to save our home planet" and are always moving towards the goal of being world-positive.
In his book Let My People Go Surfing, Patagonia's founder Yvon Chouinard does a great job of describing the power of embedding that green mindset into everything, every day: purpose, decision-making and culture.
Going Green is an interview series that sheds light on companies, organisations and initiatives that have a focus on sustainability and ethics. We ask a representative from each company the same five questions so you can get a snapshot of the work they are doing to help protect the planet.
Want more info and tips for making greener choices? Check out the Finder Green homepage.
Image credits: Getty Images, Supplied (Kua)