Takeaways

1

Sara Gibson co-founded Sightseer Coffee as a way to move the needle on sustainability by sourcing coffee from women-owned farms and processing companies.

2

When Sara and her co-founder struggled to find roasting equipment that they could rent, they decided to create a co-roasting space that would support small businesses like theirs by offering equipment and education.

3

Sara hopes both of their businesses show the viability of business models based on community over competition.

Sara Gibson

Co-founder, Sightseer Coffee; co-founder, Rising Tide Roast Collaborative

Expertise: roasting, entrepreneurship, social accountability

Coffee insight: While many consumers believe “direct trade” always means that roasters purchase directly from farmers, in practice, it often means working with community-minded importers who help foster those connections and can also offer on-the-ground support, like recommendations from trained agronomists.

Fun fact: Before beginning her coffee career, Sara spent time in several different industries, including roles as a science teacher for Teach for America and as a copyeditor and copywriter for Comedy Central.

Sara Gibson's Top 3: 1.) Drip Coffee 2.) Black Coffee, and 3.) 3+ cups a day

Sara’s Coffee Origin Story

Sara first took the leap into coffee seven years ago, when she was looking to make a career change after years in education and digital content, and started exploring the one thing she felt really passionate about—coffee.

When Sara relocated to Austin, she immediately sought out the roastery closest to her new home and started visiting regularly. She jokes, “I think I pestered them enough that at some point there were, like, ‘Do you want to work here or something?’”

In spite of having no work experience in the coffee industry, Sara says that she joined the company at “kismet-ically the right time” and found herself learning how to roast.

Sara’s Current Role

Sara is the co-founder of Sightseer Coffee, a roasting company focused on sourcing their green coffee through community-minded, environmentally conscious importers exclusively from women producers and co-ops, paying more-than-fair-trade prices for their coffees. She is also the co-founder of Rising Tide Coffee Collaborative, a co-roasting space that supports small roasting companies by offering equipment and education.

Click here to find Sightseer Coffee’s Dad Bod Blend in the U3 Coffee Exchange!

What Fuels Sara’s Work

Sara says that she was very lucky to have made her way in the roasting industry, and she’s committed to paying that luck forward by opening opportunities for greater diversity and more equity within the coffee industry—from moving the needle on women’s roles to creating space for small roasting companies to establish themselves and flourish.

In terms of Sightseer Coffee, it’s about helping women succeed and advance in an industry dominated by male decision-makers. At Rising Tide Coffee Collaborative, it’s about creating a community and a space where roasters can share equipment, knowledge, and support. She explains, “You can come do all the things you want to do here. You can get pretty damn big and still stay here. And we can do that for you in a way that makes things accessible and helps you learn as you go and lets you find success in a way that doesn’t require you to have a ton of capital.”

What Sara Wants Coffee Drinkers to Know

Sara says many coffee consumers don’t realize “how much work goes into producing in the coffee-producing countries.” But she believes that educating consumers is an important step in helping set fair prices for coffee. She says, “I think when you really start to look at what it takes to process coffee and all of those steps and how exacting it can be and how much work there is there, and then you think about how much money we pay for coffee, it’s really sort of mind-blowing.”

How Sara Cultivates Community through Coffee

While 70% of the labor force on coffee farms worldwide is made up of women, almost all management and land ownership is in the hands of men, a reality that frustrated Sara.

She became interested in women-producer initiatives, and in her reading, she came across a quote from Kofi Annan about the importance of investing in women’s education and economic power.

“I remember reading that and having this, like, aha moment,” Sara recalls. “What a powerful way to support sustainability—social sustainability, environmental sustainability, financial sustainability—to support community growth [and] to support the people who are really making the coffee. One good lever to pull right there is just to invest in women.”

Her roasting company, Sightseer Coffee sources exclusively from women-owned farms and mills, paying above fair-trade prices for their green coffee, as a way to move the needle on this imbalance.

Where You Can Find Sara

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