Western Canada’s leader in organic and fair trade coffee.


Mickey McLeod, co-founder of Salt Spring Coffee // www.saltspringcoffee.com

Number of Employees: 
Annual Sales:
$7.2 million

Mickey and Robbyn’s Story

Mickey McLeod couldn’t resist buying a converted popcorn popper for roasting coffee beans at home. Before long, Mickey and his wife, Robbyn Scott, were serving great tasting, home roasted brew to their friends on Salt Spring Island. It was the early days of coffee culture, and the US trend was spilling into Canada. “The wheels just started turning in my head,” explains Mickey. He and Robbyn had been raised on social and environmental responsibility, and these issues defined coffee from farmer to cup. As a way to share their values, they created the Salt Spring Coffee Company and their first café serving organic, fair trade coffee roasted onsite. The café opened to overwhelming support—so much so they closed for three days to brace for start-up success. Today, Salt Spring Coffee is a British Columbia icon, with over 300 wholesale customers.

Meeting Renewal Partners

By 2005, Mickey and Robbyn were dreaming of more cafés but less ecological footprint. Both would require new financing. Being longtime members of the SVI community, talks began about support from Renewal Partners. The resulting investment allowed Salt Spring Coffee to build a café at the new Tsawwassen Ferry Quay as well as a campus café at UBC. It also allowed them to buy larger quantities of beans, reducing transport and packaging. But for Mickey and Robbyn the investment meant far more than money. In times of green washing, they trusted the Renewal team to provide the expertise and encouragement for staying the course. “In our core being and how we run our company, we are trying to do the right thing, trying to be conscious along the way,” says Mickey.

Making Ripples

Since 1996, Salt Spring Coffee has strived to transform the coffee industry and improve people’s lives. Within their first few years of business, they noticed positive effects on the supply chain. In 2007, they became Canada’s first carbon neutral coffee company. In 2008, they launched a five-cent green tax on disposable cups, with the money supporting local sustainability projects. And with each opportunity along the way they channeled profits into the community: “We’re currently supporting the Urban Binning Unit, which allows binners to legally supplement their income through recycling,” explains Mickey. When asked what’s next Mickey says, “We want to get a little closer to the farmers and their families, to see what other needs they have besides getting a fair price for their coffee.”