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.

BROOKE
MCDONNELL

Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

HELEN
RUSSELL

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

MAUREEN
MCHUGH

Executive Vice President

JP LACHANCE

Chief Operating Officer and President

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 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.

2003Expansion

Equator purchases and opens 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 Volcán, Panamá.

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 wins 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 opens to the public. It is Equator's eighth cafe.

Francisco grew up on a coffee farm in El Salvador where his grandmother would roast coffee on a pan over a wood fire. After college, he founded a video production company and shot a documentary about coffee. "Through recording on this farm, I was introduced to and fell in love with the idea of specialty coffee," he said.

After moving to the US in 2014, Francisco worked as a barista, cafe manager, and then a roaster. He joined our roasting team in 2017 and became head roaster in 2019. "Our roasting team is very close, it feels like working with family," he said.

SEE CAREERS

employee spotlight

Francisco Flores Monterrosa

Head Roaster
Jordan Street Roastery

Francisco grew up on a coffee farm in El Salvador where his grandmother would roast coffee on a pan over a wood fire. After college, he founded a video production company and shot a documentary about coffee. "Through recording on this farm, I was introduced to and fell in love with the idea of specialty coffee," he said.

After moving to the US in 2014, Francisco worked as a barista, cafe manager, and then a roaster. He joined our roasting team in 2017 and became head roaster in 2019. "Our roasting team is very close, it feels like working with family," he said.

SEE CAREERS