All these efforts at sustainability earned Gaviña Gourmet Coffee the "2010 Food Processor of the Year" designation from the Food Industry Business Roundtable of Southern California.
"Gaviña's commitment and tangible contributions on the sustainability front are not only a source of pride for us here in Southern California," Don Whittemore, president of FIBR, said at the awards dinner, "but also a perfect example for the food-processing industry at-large of what can happen when vision turns to action."
But action for the Gaviñas is both a way of doing business and a way of living. After accepting the FIBR award, Michael Gaviña's aunt, Leonor Gaviña-Valls, said: "To my three siblings and me who continue to build on our father Don Francisco's four-generation legacy, we are just a tight-knit family with a whole lot of love and passion for coffee and the sustainability and wellness of the communities in which we work and live."
Going Beyond the Norm
Attention to detail runs strongly in the Gaviña family business.
Daniel Medina, vice president of sales at Liborio Markets in Pasadena, Calif., a grocer specializing in Hispanic foods, told the Los Angeles Times in 2010: "We've sold Gaviña coffee for more than 40 years, and the whole time, we've known the entire family."
"They come in, in person," he added, "and test the coffee in the store to make sure what's on our shelf is of good quality. They did that when they first started and we had one store, and now we have 13 stores in three states and they still do it."
But attention to detail and sustainability does not just run to the business of roasting coffee alone—it also involves paying attention to people.
In June 2003, F. Gaviña & Sons Inc. partnered with CISA Exportadora in the "Adopt a School Project." The Gaviña company agreed that 5 cents per pound of the coffee it purchased from CISA Exportadora would go into an account that would fund social projects in Nicaragua's coffee-producing areas.
Since then, Gaviña's efforts have helped renovate schools in Nicaragua, Mexico and El Salvador. In fact, after finishing with his interview with HispanicBusiness magazine, Michael Gaviña was preparing to go to El Salvador to inaugurate another renovation project for two schools, one in San Carlos and another in Talnique.
The Next Stage
UCLA has been making a study of Gaviña Gourmet Coffee's efforts at sustainability. The next part of the project is a lifecycle study. They will monitor every stage the coffee bean goes through, checking energy use, safety use and the efficiency of each machine. That is a multistage operation, for the beans go through six cleaning methods before roasting and through mechanical cleaners after roasting. The objective is to identify all the ways they can reduce energy use and increase efficiency.
The company is in the process of obtaining a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. The council sets the benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
The Gaviñas also will be looking into solar panel use. They had once before, but Michael Gaviña said that at that time, solar energy was not a viable solution for them.
And they continue to look for ways to recycle. For example, the coffee bags they use are made of film and metal. Recycling places refuse to handle that mixture of elements, but a company in Nevada does. Coffee bags sent there would be recycled into corner posts.
The rich tradition of the Gaviña family and its love and passion for coffee have blended perfectly into a business model for sustainability that could easily become the industry standard.
So, Kermit the Frog, chill out, enjoy some Don Francisco's Family Reserve coffee and contemplate the Gaviña family's lessons on being green.
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