Building Sustainable Relationships

For H.C. Valentine, part of the story begins with the commitment to support sustainable growing practices and social responsibility. The company works with organizations such as World Coffee Research, which works to protect and grow the supply chain of high-quality Arabica coffees through collaborative agricultural research and development. Ben Pitts, vice president of food service and hospitality, has been actively involved with the organization since its genesis.

“That work is so important, because these coffees are at risk for a number of different reasons: economic conditions in third-world countries, a growing global demand, and climate change, to name a few,” Ben explains. Another risk is “coffee rust,” a fungus that targets high-quality beans and can wipe out 25 percent of a small farmer’s crop, a problem that World Coffee Research is working to research and fight. 

The company also takes seriously its efforts to ensure that farm workers and their families are treated fairly. Carol Lindsey, commodities buyer and manager, states the company partners with a group called Rainforest Alliance in its efforts to ensure sustainable livelihoods through responsible land use and business practices. “We also buy from importers and exporters that have a direct relationship with the producing countries, because that enables us to partner with them in special projects they are doing, from community to on-site schools and daycare facilities for the children of the workers,” Carol says. “It’s critical to us that we deal with people with integrity who are of the same mind that H.C. Valentine is about taking care of the people on those farms.”  

“The company’s overall sustainability philosophy is broader than just what we do in the coffee growing regions or for the coffee farmers,” Ben agrees.  “We do a lot in the communities where we live and operate, which matters to our customers. We’re asked more and more often, ‘What is your sustainability mission?’ We’re hearing that more every day.”

Ben says it all comes full circle when he’s able to sit down with someone, whether a world-class restaurateur, a restaurant patron or just a friend, and enjoy both the excellence of a cup of H.C. Valentine coffee and the whole story that’s behind it. “When we’re sitting around after a great meal having an exceptional cup of coffee, and knowing all the thought, work and care that it represents, I am genuinely inspired by that total dedication to excellence.” 


H.C. Valentine Coffee is a member of the Royal Cup family of coffee companies.