In a marriage of two of our favorite things, coffee and gays, it was just announced that our own Equator Coffee & Tea is the first LGBT-owned business to be named California's Small Business of the Year, by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

It all began in a small Marin county garage back in 1995, when cofounders Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell set out to build a better coffee business. In fact, Equator was the first Bay Area coffee company to become a certified B Corporation, a designation that recognizes the company for its best practices in areas as diverse as sustainable roasting methods, energy consumption, and environmental impact to minority hiring, eco-friendly worker housing, employee voluntourism.

 

Equator Coffee & Tea cofounders, Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell (Courtesy of Equator Coffee & Tea)

Today, Equator is a high-impact coffee company committed to quality, social responsibility, transparency, and empowerment initiatives, and from what we can tell, it's a pretty nice place to work. With its 5,500-square-foot flagship roastery in San Rafael, Equator employs 90 people to serve about 350 wholesale customers (including such restaurants as The French Laundry and Jardinière) as well as customers at retail locations in SF and Mill Valley and two more on the way.  //  Equator Coffee & Tea, 986 Market St. (Mid-Market), equatorcoffees.com

Visit Equator Coffee's Mid-Market shop and check out our guide for other cool stuff to do in the neighborhood: