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Cape Foulweather Coffee Co.: With love from Lincoln CityCoffee logo

Are small businesses willing to spend money to reduce their carbon footprint?

Undoubtedly. And one of the best examples is Cape Foulweather Coffee Co., a one-woman operation that delivers high-quality coffee to coastal and mid-Willamette Valley communities.

Elaine McCracken worked as a marine biologist for many years. To offset all the time she spent feeling "cold and wet" as a result of her research, she drank a lot of coffee: excellent blends from specialty roasters. When she began to wonder what the next step in her life should be, she focused on coffee roasting.

Scoop of beans"I like coffee, and quality production takes good science." She thought it was a natural fit. She also thought Lincoln City, on the blustery Oregon Coast and near the site of her marine studies, was the right place to set up shop. Cape Foulweather Coffee Co. described both the geography and the weather.

In 2004, she and a business partner started planning operations. In the process of finding the right roasting equipment, they met a young man from Seattle who imports coffee. "His products were very clean," Elaine's words for the quality she looks for in a coffee bean.

The partners liked both him and his business approach, which includes emphasizing fair trade and sustainable practices with small farmers. As women whose careers had focused on environmental protection, they were committed to carrying those practices into their new operation.Bean Dump

Today, Elaine is a sole proprietor with more than 10 years of experience roasting coffee. She delivers her award-winning blends to coffee shops, grocery stores, hotels, casinos and local government offices along the coast and in the West Salem area. She also mails roasted coffee to customers throughout Oregon.

Some ways Elaine applies her values to her business include:
• Purchase of renewable power from her local electricity provider, as well as offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions associated with her natural gas use through the Smart Energy Program;
• Roasting coffee with natural gas equipment -- and applying a gas-fueled afterburner that eliminates air particulates and other residue associated with the roasting process. (Elaine said that her neighbors miss the luscious smell of roasted coffee, but she feels the afterburner ensures better air quality indoors and outdoors.);
• Searching for coffee grown using sustainable principles, including beans certified by the Rainforest Alliance and determined to be organic and carbon-free;
• Buying fairly trade coffee, which means that farmers are compensated reasonably for their products; and
• Supporting "Grounds for Growth," which helps women-run coffee organizations find financing and technical support.

In short, Elaine practices "conscious operations" in her Lincoln City facility and "Conscious sourcing" for her coffee beans. Early on, she decided she was willing to pay a slightly higher price for raw product than she might find elsewhere. In return, she gets that clean quality that means so much to her, as well as the knowledge that she is supporting farmers who treat the land the way she would like it to be treated.

While she buys from farmers on three continents, her base is the Central Oregon Coast. "After a career that involved moving every year or two for research, I loved setting down roots in Lincoln City. The culture here is based on protecting the ocean, the wetlands and the forests.

"I especially love the tourists! They are always so happy to be here. And through them, Cape Foulweather has developed a network of support throughout the state."