Our Story | About Us | Equator Coffees
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Our Mission

Coffee can be a force for good

That realization inspired our founders Brooke and Helen to roast and sell coffee themselves from a Marin County garage in 1995. Coffee can be roasted better, brewed better and, most importantly, it can be sourced in a way that makes lives better. That garage became Equator Coffees and marked the beginning of a high-impact coffee company focused on quality, sustainability and social responsibility.

Our Promise

Drinking Good Coffee Leads to Good Things

After two decades, nine cafes and thousands of cups served, our impact has grown but our values remain the same.

Equator was named after the region where coffee grows, but has come to mean so much more than that. It’s the path around the planet that connects us all. As we tread that path from bean to sip, we try to make everything we touch better. From people to planet. Because we believe coffee can do more than just taste good. It has the power to do good too.

Our Leadership Team

Helen Russell

Co-Founder & Executive Chair

Brooke McDonnell

Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

Maureen McHugh

Executive Vice President

JP Lachance

Chief Executive Officer

Certified B Corp since 2011

As the first California coffee roaster to receive B Corp certification, Equator is a demonstrative leader in sustainable practices. This third-party certification requires us to demonstrate transparency and accountability throughout our supply chain and quantify the impact our business creates for our employees, the community, and the environment.

learn more about our impact

Our evolution

1995: In the garage

Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell found Equator Estate Coffees & Teas in a garage in Marin County, CA. Maureen McHugh becomes Equator's first employee soon after.

1997: First trip to origin

Brooke embarks to Guatemala for her first trip to origin to study coffee production firsthand at the Chipicay Cooperative. "The first visit to see the land and the people who grow coffee filled me with a sense of wonder, gratitude, and privilege to be a small part of the coffee world," said Brooke.

1999: Fair Trade Certified

Equator becomes an early partner of Fair Trade USA, buying coffee from the SOPPEXCCA Cooperative in Nicaragua. It is the beginning of a decades-long relationship with Fair Trade.

2003: Expansion

Equator purchases and opens our Jordan Street Roastery in San Rafael. It has housed our main roasting operations ever since.

2008: A farm of our own

Equator partners with world-renowned coffee expert Willem Boot to found Finca Sophia, our very own coffee farm in Volcán, Panama.

2011: B Corp Certified

Equator becomes the first coffee roaster in California to become a Certified B Corporation. The company is a demonstrative leader in using business as a force for good.

2013: Our first cafe

Equator opens its first retail store at the Proof Lab campus in the Tam Junction neighborhood of Mill Valley. "Where everybody knows your name," said Helen.

2016: Business of the Year

Equator wins National Small Business of the Year by the Small Business Administration. It is the first Certified LGBTQ-owned business to win.

2020: New World Record

In August 2020, Finca Sophia is recognized as the 2020 Panama Cup winner, receiving 1st Place in the Washed Gesha category and 2nd Place in the Natural Gesha category. In September, that same coffee set a new world record for coffee sold at auction.

2021: Coffee with a view

Equator opens its ninth retail location at one of the most iconic crossroads in the world, the Round House at the Golden Gate Bridge. First opened in 1937, this Art Deco perch with a near-360 degree view of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area offers a coffee experience like no other.

2022: Hello, Los Angeles!

In March 2022, Equator opens its first-ever Southern California cafe in Culver City at Ivy Station. Designed by Kellie Patry, the 50+ seat indoor-outdoor cafe was inspired by the California topography and the metro line which runs through Ivy Station.

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