A coffee with... Grant Lang
Sneaking a moment with our founder on the first of our 'A coffee with...' series. Grant started Mozzo in 2005 with the world's first wind and solar-powered art covered coffee cart and a clear commitment to building a positive impact company - one whose success is measured not just commercially, but socially and environmentally too.
Grant with Marcelline Budza of Rebuild Women's Hope. Oct '19
How do you take your coffee?
Double Espresso. Hot water on the side. Glass of tap water, no ice, no garnish.
Why did you start Mozzo?
The truth… too many small significant reasons to list here. However, perhaps best to share my drive. I guess I was a student who believed that businesses in the 21st century should and could be built differently. They could be built on true triple bottom line principals aspiring to achieve a balance between commercial, social and environmental impacts. It was the very human nature of the coffee industry that drew me to it. Southampton (where I was at university) severely lacked good coffee. I guess I spotted a little opportunity then simply poured my values and beliefs into the brand, immersed myself in the history of the industry (past and present), learnt as much as I could about the product itself across the value chain from farm to cup… the adventure has continued ever since and I am definitely still learning… about coffee and a lot more besides.
What inspires you?
When have you felt most inspired?
Impossible to answer. However, perhaps the moment the stark reality of the world hit me smack in the face was on my trip to DR Congo to visit Muungano Cooperative in Feb 2018. At 3,000 m up a mountain, I took part in GALS (Gender Action Learning Work Shop). Many of the farmers could not read or write, yet through talking and pictures, it became clear that regardless of where we are born; our dreams, hopes, fears, desires and challenges are the same...both for ourselves, our children and our communities. The only difference is where we are born, which isn’t a factor we have a choice over as individuals...If an organisation in England ran the GALS workshop and overlapped it with that of Muungano, where people fight to build a life in one of the most challenging countries on the planet, I’m certain you wouldn’t be able to identify just by looking at people’s dreams, fears and hopes, where they were talking to you from. I left DRC that year and I think that is when the penny dropped… time to push on Grant… start being brave, being true to yourself. After all, we can choose what we do with our time while we are here… stop wasting time and crack on with accomplishing our goals!
What is the purpose of the C2C Fund™ (Community2Community Fund)?
The Fund seeks to work with start-up and/or small coffee-growing organisations e.g. cooperatives that are focused on building better lives for their farmers, members and the wider community. Our project partners must have a commitment to a triple bottom line and actively recognise the importance of achieving a sustainable balance between commercial, social and environment.Ultimately, it’s not a big fund in comparison to big competitors in the industry, so we simply seek to go where perhaps others hesitate to and be involved initiating and/or kick-starting micro organisations, supporting them to reach the next level in their development. Hopefully, this approach ensures we maximise our impact.
Why the DRC?
Why not? If you really want to know, the only way is to go there for yourself - it will hit you like a sledgehammer, and I have no doubt, then make complete sense. Back in 2014, it was being completely ignored, and relatively still is. The people have astonishing spirit and an inspiring drive to succeed despite the greatest of obstacles. Its natural beauty is breath-taking. Its potential in the wider world of coffee is enormous. Quite frankly it pisses me off that throughout history we (humanity) have treated such a country, its people, its natural resources as we have. However small our impact, I would like to think that the C2C Fund™ can play a positive part in a movement of people in the DRC that is gathering momentum that will in decades, perhaps centuries to come, help turn the tide of history. We have to start somewhere right?
What else is coming from Mozzo?
We will continually strive to improve the positive impact we have across the value chain, from the customers coffee experience in our proud partner venues who share our magic coffee, to the farmers of Muungano and Rebuild Women’s Hope in the DRC, and everyone in between. Yet if I am allowed to get excited for a moment, 2020 will see…The opening of our new 12,000 Sq Ft £2.5m roastery in Southampton, UK. Alongside this in the UK, we are making a big investment in our Quality Audit App and continuing to aim higher in the service and product standards we deliver to all of our partner venues. Outside of the UK, we have launched in France, and you may see the arrival of a 2nd TukTuk to support the launch team as they build the brand and business in Paris and beyond. To celebrated launching in France, and our C2C Fund™ partnership with Rebuild Women’s Hope Cooperative, we have dreamed up a 200 mile run from Mozzo World (Southampton) to CitizenM – La Defence (Paris). The motivation here is pretty simple, Idjwi Island, Lake Kivu has a population of 250,000 people and desperately needs a medical clinic. We are going to raise the funds so that RWH can build and operate this clinic. Sitting behind all of this is an exciting opportunity to launch in the US… April 2020 we go live in the states.
None of this would be possible without the support of everyone inside of Mozzo, and our wider stakeholders including all of our suppliers. Massive thanks to every single one of you for the support and here is hoping 2020 proves a lot of fun as well as no doubt hard work.
Looking back, any Mozzo Moments you’re especially proud of?
Pride comes before a… right?
I rarely stop to look back and picking out one or a few moments would be impossible. With what’s on the horizons for 2020 and indeed happening right now, the only way to be looking is forward!
We respect and recognise everyone that has helped us get to this point and I am sure they would want us to be pushing on, being braver, being bolder and making it happen.
Have you got a parting (coffee) shot…
Put people before product. Put people before profit.