My experience in coffee has not always been welcoming and encouraging of my background, values, and vision. During my time on this planet, I want to do everything I can to make my time rewarding, filled with joy, and embedded with activism about issues I care about. So with Keia & Martyn's, I am no different. I am constantly looking for ways to infuse our business with more intention and thoughtfulness around how we choose to "do business."
When Martyn and I discussed pricing before we launched Top Cup (now known as Keia & Martyn's), we agreed that we wanted our coffee offerings to be accessible to people like us; people that cared about quality and equity AND couldn't break the bank. Most new small businesses like ours tend to undersell their work. Sometimes that is because they don't believe people will pay what it is actually worth. Other times business owners see high prices as being exclusive and elite, and don't want to associate their brand with that vibe. After our first year in business, we looked back and realized we were the latter. We also discovered so many things we didn't know about running a business like a true cost of goods framework and proper accounting.
We knew there were non-negotiables like sustainable practices in coffee production, farmgate pricing, and strong environmental impact mitigation, like organic farming, that we would also have as our guiding light. But we really saw our prices at the time as not being sustainable for our growing business. We still didn't want to charge some of the prices that we see out their in the industry but wondered how we could raise our prices while centering our values.
As some of you may know, I also work in environmental justice and JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) and I am constantly listening to podcasts and attending sessions about how to infuse JEDI and equitable practices into organizations and businesses. While Martyn and I have tried to do that with Keia & Martyn's, we really felt that we need to really focus on a pricing model that we could feel good about and invest some time into developing a better structure for us. I decided to do this thing I call backward mapping where we take the outcome that we want and begin to lay out the steps to get there. Through that process, I came up with our Equity Pricing (EP) model.
I think what's great about EP is that it encourages people to think about their own space in our society and how they can use that positioning when buying coffee from us. It engages people on a deeper level than just a set price. I also like that every level is important and valued. Hopefully, it takes some of the hierarchy out of our histories and promotes action instead of a reinforcement of shame, guilt, or saviorism. I also understand that EP isn't saving the world but I think it will take all kinds of ideas put into our reality to really effect change. We gotta keep chipping away at all these old norms and start making moves toward our future. This is hopefully Keia & Martyn's first of many and I for one am here for it.
Keia Booker | Roaster and Co-Owner