Materiality Assessment- What Really Matters
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Materiality Assessment- What Really Matters

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What Matters Most

Thanksgiving Coffee Company has been in the coffee business for a long time, and the playing field has really shifted, in fact undeniably the world has changed alot since 2020. In light of this accelerated movement and shifting tides, Thanksgiving Coffee realized the importance of checking in with you, our customers, and all who we work with. On the recommendation of our esteemed B Corp consultant Heather Paulsen, we decided to engage in a Materiality Assessment and have her lead us through the process. Now we have done it, gathered the information, and we are excited to share the results with you!


What is a Materiality Assessment?

A materiality assessment identifies significant issues and concerns that a company interfaces with both in business and in the wider world. In other words, it is a method of engagement to ensure that a business prioritizes the environmental, social, economic and governance issues that are understood to be the most important and impactful for the business and its stakeholders. Our study was designed to determine which relevant topics are most important to report and act on, to help us build out effective ESG (environment, sustainability, governance) strategies, and through this process develop stakeholder alignment for our company.

Phase I

To determine Thanksgiving Coffee Company’s list of material issues, Heather guided us through the following methodology. First we did background research and analysis of other businesses and nonprofits, including completed materiality assessments, impact reports, and their websites. We held a series of core team meetings to develop our preliminary list of material issues. We came to identify these three categories: Resources, People, and Governance. Then our core team reviewed the list, made revisions, created definitions of each issue, and made boundary mapping. Here are the issues in each category.


    •   Biodiversity & Land Use

    •   Energy Use/Renewable Energy

    •   Water Use

    •   Waste & Composting

    •   Sustainable Packaging

    •   Organic & Regenerative Agriculture

    •   GHG Emissions / Carbon Sequestration


    •   Product Quality & Variety

    •   Employee Well-being & Company Culture

    •     Responsible & Ethical Sourcing • Human Rights

    •   Community Engagement

    •   Farmer/Rural Development

    •   Giving Back

    •   Customer Satisfaction

    •   Affordable Access to Products


    •   Business Ethics & Stakeholder Consideration

    •   Transparency

    •   Traceability

    •   Innovation

    •   Marketing & Social Media

    •   Third-Party Certifications

Phase II

In this phase, a series of interviews and surveys were conducted with our employees and customers, including distributors, retailers, cafes/food service accounts, vendors, trade associations and nonprofit partners.

Then, the results were compiled from 21 employees, and 241 direct consumers through our outreach efforts from calls, emails, and social media. With all of this information we were able to map out the material issues into the matrix you see below.


2023 Materiality Assessment Results

In the image above you will see the main material issues that rose to the top were in the category of People (in blue) with human rights being the very highest on the matrix, followed by sourcing practices, product quality, and organic & regenerative agriculture.

The results on the left axis of the matrix are the external stakeholders with results from our distributors, retailers, cafes/food service accounts, vendors, trade associations and nonprofit partners. On the bottom axis are the internal Thanksgiving Coffee Employees results. The matrix is a combined view of both external and internal results and has three shades of purple to delineate the differences of: moderate, high, and very high ratings. Note that none of the identified issues fell below the number 6 as a concern, that is why the grid goes from 6-10.

“Our work changes communities, from survival to prospering.
It’s a chain of care, love and support.” GoCoffeeGo, TCC Coffee Distributor

To understand where our third party certifications ranked, we put together another matrix following the same principles. Here you will see that the most regarded and highly ranked certification is USA Organic, followed by Fairtrade America ,  Smithsonian Bird Friendly and then B Corp Certification.

What You Said

To summarize what was said in the interviews is that Thanksgiving Coffee Company has superior quality, trust and knowledge in our field. It was also reflected back that we have a unique story to tell and that farmer connection, relationship and transparency are very important. Our consumers also want to feel good about their purchases.

"I found you because of your focus on the ethical stewardship of our planet. The coffee is great. Thank you for leading by example!" Anonymous survey comment

With the Materiality Assessment findings in, we are using it to guide our development efforts and ensure the company focuses on the most important issues facing the business, and as you can see it's People.

Over the past several years we have engaged in a new approach with Regenerative Business Development to learn how to empower our people in the company, and develop our ability to support whole systems thinking. We are working to improve the way we interact with all of our people on the planet. This assessment is also a tool that will guide us back to you, our customers and how we can be of more service to you as our "People" who love our coffee and continue to support us. Thank you for keeping us going all these years;, we really appreciate you. We can't wait to grow more together, while drinking delicious and exquisite coffee!

Lavender Grace is the Sustainability Consultant for Thanksgiving Coffee Company.