Clean Technology Canada

Café William’s cargo sailboat making its way to North America

January 9, 2024
By Canadian Manufacturing

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Café William’s first cargo sailboat leaves the port of Santa Marta on December 18. (CNW Group/Café William)

SHERBROOKE — As part of a movement towards a more sustainable coffee supply chain, Café William announces that its first cargo sailboat set sail from the port of Santa Marta in Colombia on December 18, bound for North America. During its 20-day voyage, the cargo sailboat carried 72,000 kilos of coffee beans on the wind, in an effort to run on clean energy.

The decision to opt for environmentally friendly shipping is part of the company’s drive to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices throughout its supply chain. “It’s a commitment to sustainable transport, but also to setting a precedent for other players in the sector,” emphasizes Serge Picard, owner of Café William.

“It was vital for us to find an alternative method of transporting coffee, which largely depends on fossil-fuel cargo ships,” adds Mr. Picard. With a first voyage as a proof of concept for the cargo sailboat, this is just the beginning of plans to supply zero-emission coffee,” he concludes. According to Café William’s projections, the company could see a reduction of around one tonne of shipping-related CO2 per container, thanks to the cargo sailboat. The company hopes to increase its cargo sailboat shipping capacity to 100% of the volume imported for Café William in the long term.

The beans used by Café William come from the ANEI coffee cooperative on the mountain slopes of the Sierra Nevada in northern Colombia. Coffee beans from the ANEI cooperative have been certified organic and fair trade for over 10 years.

“The partnership established between the ANEI association and Café William is a perfect example of what fair trade is all about: weaving a link from farmers to consumers to put trade back at the service of people, not the other way round. For the Fairtrade Canada team, it’s a privilege to support the implementation of Café William’s visionary dream,” says Julie Francoeur, CEO of Fairtrade Canada.

“The Colombian cooperative and the Sherbrooke-based company share common values regarding growing coffee beans. For this reason, ANEI members supported the Café William team in this initiative. We have a unique opportunity to share with Quebecers not only the exhilarating adventure of our first coffee voyage by cargo sailboat but also the rich history of the members of the aboriginal community grouped under the ANEI cooperative,” says Rachel Ladouceur, Senior Marketing Manager at Café William.

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