Who we are

In 1995 we had a big idea: make people’s lives better through coffee. Thanks to our community of producers, roasters, baristas and supporters, that idea has become reality in the two decades since.

Inspirational Book

"Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf

Coffee Drink

I love single origin espresso. Each new one in our cafes is my favorite.

Guilty Pleasure Movie

Anything with Barbra Streisand

BROOKE
MCDONNELL

Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

Inspirational Book

"Personal History" by Katharine Graham

Coffee Drink

Mochas!! (No whipped cream today, but in the 90's?! Pile it on!)

karaoke

"My Way" by Frank Sinatra

HELEN
RUSSELL

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Inspirational Book

"The Women’s Room" by Marilyn French

Coffee Drink

Cappuccino, especially while traveling

Guilty pleasure movie

The Bodyguard (cuz I love Whitney)

MAUREEN
MCHUGH

Executive Vice President

JP LACHANCE

Chief Operating Officer

Coffee Can Be Better

That realization inspired our founders 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. Long before anyone thought coffee could embody any of those qualities.

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

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1995In 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.

1997First 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.

1999Fair Trade Certified

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

2003Expansion

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

2008A Farm of Our Own

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

2011B Corp. Certified

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

2013Our First Cafe

Our first cafe opens at the Proof Lab campus in Mill Valley.

"Where everybody knows your name," said Helen.

2016Business of the Year

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

2019Sausalito Opens

In September 2019, Sausalito Equator opened to the public. It is Equator's eighth cafe.

Vicky has a real passion for coffee.  She's joyful, hard working and takes pride in her coffee knowledge and management skills. "To be the best role model and inspire my team to create high-end hospitality is my most important duty," she said.

At Equator, she has worked as a shift lead and assistant manager. Since 2018 she's served as the general manager of the 222 2nd St. cafe. There she has built a tight-knit team of coffee professionals.

SEE CAREERS

employee spotlight

Vicky Nokjan

General Manager
2nd Street / SOMA

Vicky has a real passion for coffee.  She's joyful, hard working and takes pride in her coffee knowledge and management skills. "To be the best role model and inspire my team to create high-end hospitality is my most important duty," she said.

At Equator, she has worked as a shift lead and assistant manager. Since 2018 she's served as the general manager of the 222 2nd St. cafe. There she has built a tight-knit team of coffee professionals.

SEE CAREERS