Around the Lulu offices, you’ll hear the phrase “B Corp” often. It comes with a lot of meaning for us, but I fear it’s not always clear what we mean when we talk about it.Luckily, today we have December’s staff picks–two books that champion the B Corp Movement. You see, B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Ever since we fully embraced our status as a B Corp, we’ve paid close attention to any author or business that creates books that benefit charitable causes, educate under-served populations, or promotes causes that seek to do good.
Alright, enough explaining. Let’s get to know a couple of awesome Lulu Authors!
Counter Culture Coffee
Written by Counter Culture employees Getu Bekele and Timothy Hill, Ethiopian Coffee Varieties is a reference guide to Ethiopian coffee. Designed for coffee farmers and roasters, the book is also an amazing testament to how coffee growing can enrich a people and culture.
Operating the first certified organic coffee roaster in North Carolina, Counter Culture is one of our favorites.
Watch our Facebook Live to hear our Q&A with Counter Culture:
If you want to test the Idido blend mentioned in the video, you can find it on their website – Idido Coffee by the Pound.
And here is the full transcript of our conversation with Counter Culture’s Content Manager, Katelin Resta:
Full Transcript from Counter Culture Coffee
1. Tell us about the history of Counter Culture.
Please see our history page on our website!
For more than two decades, we’ve been creating extraordinary coffee experiences. We don’t just find good coffee, we put in the work and commitment it takes to develop great coffees.
In addition to the incredible coffee in this bag, Counter Culture operates Training Centers across the country, including locations in New York | Chicago | Boston | Washington, DC | Asheville, NC | Charleston, SC | Atlanta | Miami | Dallas | Seattle | Bay Area | Los Angeles | and our HQ + Roastery in Durham, NC. These Training Centers are hubs that foster coffee education, exploration, and enthusiasm. Join us any and every Friday at 10 a.m. in our spaces—and 24/7 at counterculturecoffee.com.
2. Why did you decide to publish a book?
This book is a culmination of two years of hard work by numerous employees at Counter Culture Coffee and aims to bridge the knowledge gap that exists on Ethiopian coffee varieties in the industry. The guide will act as a tool that empowers farmers in their decision-making processes when choosing varieties for research, development, or investment. The right varieties in the right environments will ultimately improve productivity and quality on farms. We believe that the long-term effect of this reference guide on the specialty coffee industry will be significant.
3. Tell us a little bit about the creation process of this book.
The creation of this book was definitely a learning experience. It took a lot of back and forth between me, Tim, and Getu. I laid everything out, we choose pictures together, and then we went through endless rounds of edits. Overall, it was fun and we are all really happy with how it turned out!
4. What is your favorite part of the book?
The magnificent bird! On page 72.
5. What are some of your favorite Counter Culture coffees and where do they come from?
Idido is always a perennial favorite here. We’ve been purchasing coffee from this area in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia for over 10 years and from the Idido cooperative specifically since 2011, and it’s very special to us. There’s many CCC staff who would credit coffee from Idido being instrumental in changing their whole perception of what coffee could be and sparking their careers in coffee!
6. Tell us about your Iridescent coffee and how it gives back.
Iridescent is our winter blend, with flavor notes of berry, chocolate, and sweet. Each year, we earmark $1 per pound of Iridescent sold for a special project fund. This year, we’re supporting three projects that increase farmers’ access to the market.
7. What advice do you have for people to brew better coffee at home?
We have several brew guides over on our blog!
Choosing a good coffee to water ratio (like a 1:16) for brewing coffee is one of the easiest and most assured ways to improve coffee quality.
Our Brew @ Home classes are also open to the public. Consumers can learn more about that over on our website.
8. Any fun facts you’d like your readers to know about Counter Culture?
Our coffee is roasted-to-order, meaning we roast it right here in Durham, NC when the order is placed!
We optically sort the majority of our coffees.
9. Any fun facts you’d like your readers to know about coffee?
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee cultivation and drinking!
The outer layer of coffee cherry fruit can be dried and later brewed as tea called “cascara”.
Coffee looks like a green seed before it’s roasted. If that green seed is planted, it could grow into another coffee tree!
10. Where can people keep up with Counter Culture?
@counterculturecoffee on Instagram and Facebook @counter_culture on Twitter, and our website at www.counterculturecoffee.com
11. Do you have any plans to publish more books? If so, what about?
Not currently, but we’re always growing and learning. Stay tuned!
Jessica Yinka Thomas
Next up we have Jessica Yinka Thomas and her novel How Not to Make Friends. Another North Carolina native, Jessica comes from an engineering background, but needed to explore her creativity with her writing. Pairing that creative endeavor with a desire to engage and improve society, and we have Jessica’s amazing novels.
Oh yes. The middle book in a trilogy (part one is How Not to Save the World) that focuses on social justice and female empowerment, we’ve got a perfect example of how literature can have a positive impact on the world.
Jessica described her characters as ‘Mother Teresa meets James Bond meets Robin Hood. In a gown.’ If that’s piquing your interest (and why wouldn’t it?) you can find all of her books on Jessica’s Author Page.
Watch our Facebook Live to learn more about Jessica Yinka Thomas and her newest book:
Full Transcript from Jessica Yinka Thomas
1. Tell us about your double life!
Sure! By day, I’m a mild-mannered professor. I teach and study how business can be a force for good in the Poole College of Management at NC State Universities. By night, I’m a social justice novelist. I’m inspired to write because I see storytelling as a compelling mode to engage and inspire people to think about how they can make the world a better place.
2. How has your work as a professor influenced your writing?
I learn a great deal from my day job that I bring into my writing. My focus is on studying innovative sustainable business models. I’m particularly interested in B Corporations, companies like lulu.com, that have demonstrated the highest standards of social and environmental impact. The great thing about writing fiction is that I can bring inspiration from my day job into my novels without the constraints of the real world.
3. Your book takes us all over the globe to help the African Peace Collaborative. Where did that idea come from and what inspired you to create a story with an international backdrop?
I started out writing nonfiction travel stories. Many of those stories formed the foundation of my novels. I wanted to write about a character who travels all over the world, as a way to share my experiences with my readers. I’ve had the good fortune to travel to all the places featured in my novels including, Sydney, Tokyo, Cape Town, Geneva, Rio, Addis Ababa, Paris, Nairobi, Kampala and beyond.
4. Why do you think it’s important to use literature as a vehicle for social justice?
Both of my novels have at their cores a social message. How Not to Save the World is focused on conflict resolution and How Not to Make Friends explores ending modern-day slavery. My goal is for my reader to get lost in the story and also to inspire them to think about how they can make the world a better place.
5. Were there any unexpected challenges that you faced in the creative process?
My biggest challenge is finding enough time to write. I seem to be on a schedule of writing one novel every 10 years. It’s been a slow but steady process, fitting writing in between a full time job, parenting and being engaged in my community. Most of the time I write in 5 minute bursts. But, you can get a lot done adding up thousands of 5 minutes bursts over ten years.
6. Tell us a little bit about your decision to use ifundwomen to fund the project?
I explored several different crowdfunding platforms before selecting ifundwomen. The platform is very clearly dedicated to the success of female-led ventures. It has an incredibly supportive network and a rich set of resources. Every month, they take 20 percent of the fees charged and reinvest them into select live campaigns. I was fortunate to receive one of those gifts and one of my largest contributions was actually from ifundwomen itself!
7. How did it feel to see your completed book for the first time?
I’ve always been a voracious reader but I started my professional career as an engineer. I shied away from creative writing early on because I thought of myself as a techie. I read Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way while traveling across Australia and wrote in big capital letters at the close of the book, “I will write a novel!” Ten long years later I published that first novel. Getting that first proof copy from lulu.com was truly exhilarating; the realizing of a lifelong dream.
8. Who is your biggest influence?
My biggest influence is my late father, Adebisi Babatunde Thomas. He was an economist and would never define himself as an author although I have a shelf full of his academic publications. He committed his life to demonstrating how technology can be a powerful tool for social change in Africa. His work has changed many thousands of lives for the better. He is my writing role model in many ways.
9. What’s your dream job?
I’m really living that dream right now. Every day I pop out of bed, excited at the prospect of working with students, colleagues and businesses with a shared vision to make the world a better place. My day job provides a lot of flexibility and inspiration for my writing. One day, down the road, I would love to write full time.
10. Where do you get inspiration for your projects?
I’ve taken my inspiration from the world around me and from the parts of life that I love. I weave my travel experiences into my writing, my passion for technological innovation and my personal vision for creating large scale social and environmental change. The story in How Not to Save the World evolved from a desire to create a compelling story that would include all of those elements.
11. What advice do you have for others hoping to get published?
Write every day! Even if it’s only 30 seconds of making notes on your phone or 5 minutes on the computer at the end of the day. The woman who runs my fitness class is probably frustrated that I will often pick up my phone in between sets and make notes about dialogue, character development, settings, etc. She probably thinks I’m texting my friends, but it keeps my mind distracted during the bicep curls and keeps me writing! The hardest part of publishing is finishing. Lulu.com makes it easy after that.
12. Tell us about your personal best for the B-Corp Challenge!
Of course! I study B Corporations and I encourage everyone from my students, to colleagues, to friends and family to vote with your wallet for the products and services that share your values. I started the #bcorpchallenge on Instagram to see how many B Corp products I could use in one day. My personal best was 50 including wearing Athleta apparel, using BeautyCounter products, eating at Bull City Burger and Brewery, shopping at Vert & Vogue and of course working on publishing my second novel on lulu.com!
13. Where can people find you?
The best place to find me is on my website www.jessicayinkathomas.com. You can find link s to all my social media networks there.
14. What’s next for Jessica Yinka Thomas?
How Not to Save the World is the first in a trilogy. I’ve just published the second book, How Not to Make Friends and I’m starting to work on the third!
That’s it for Staff Picks in 2018. We hope everyone found something amazing to read. We loved these books and we want you to love them too!
We’ll be back in the new year with even more amazing authors and books to highlight!
Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!
Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, writing weekly blog posts and helping guide content for the company’s marketing. When he’s not deeply entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person, but considers himself cat tolerant.