Press Release

Equator Estates Coffees & Teas of San Rafael Named 2010 Small Business of the Year

Assemblymember Jared Huffman Names Equator Estates Coffees & Teas of San Rafael 6th Assembly District Small Business of the Year

Sacramento, CA 05-Mar-2010

On Tuesday, May 25, 2010 Assemblymember Huffman (D-San Rafael) presented his 2010 Small Business of the Year Award to Co-founder and CEO Helen Russell of Equator Estates Coffees & Teas. Founded in 1995, by two local women, the company employs 19 people in San Rafael and five on its coffee farm in Panama. The company, offering artisan coffees and teas including certified organic and fair trade to national retail and wholesale customers, is on track to sell 700,000 pounds of coffee in 2010.

Huffman chose Equator Estate Coffees & Teas for his monthly Sustainable North Bay award in January, 2010, and then selected the company for his Small Business of the Year for 2010 in recognition of their exemplary business practices. Equator Estate procures distinctive coffees and teas from growers who practice responsible land stewardship, bio-friendly farming techniques, and utilize labor-friendly operations.

Pleased to present the award, Huffman noted, "Equator takes action with sustainability programs at all levels of operation; the business is a shining example that green business practices yield positive economic results." These practices include using an ultra-efficient Loring Smart Roaster, which reduces carbon emissions by 80%; a delivery truck powered by locally-produced biodiesel fuel and a hybrid car for service; an extensive recycling program for both the office and warehouse; a compost program that incorporates 100% of chaff and coffee grounds; and the donation of jute and burlap coffee bags to area gardeners for re-use.

"We're honored to be chosen for this small business award by Assemblymember Huffman. For fifteen years we've invested both in our local community and in building relationships with global coffee and tea producers. This recognition increases our determination to apply green business and ethical sourcing principles in the pursuit of a quality cup for our customers," said Helen Russell.

The company is also known for its high-quality treatment of employees, paying 100% of the premium for comprehensive health insurance coverage for all employees, offering an employer-contribution 401K profit-sharing retirement plan, providing above-average wages, and promoting education and career advancement through its mentoring program. On the global front, Equator has a commitment to investing in the coffee providers primarily in Latin America and Africa with micro loans and other entrepreneurial initiatives that further support coffee operations in order to secure a steady supply of high-quality beans for the future.

The day began with workshops coordinated by the California Small Business Association, followed by a Salute to Small Businesses Awards Luncheon. The closing event was a networking reception hosted by the Latino Business Association.

Each year, the State Assembly recognizes contributions of small business providers and their important role in creation of jobs and growth for the California economy.

Office for the Assembly Member Jared Huffman

Nick Ely
Office: 415.479.4920