The Green Bean Coffee Shop

The Green Bean Coffee Shop: Scalable coffee shop redefining the way all coffee shops should do business.

Yerevan, ArmeniaYerevan, Armenia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Green Bean Coffee Shop, an environmentally friendly, sustainable, organic community organization that just happens to be a profitable coffee shop. A scalable triple-bottom-line business that aims to be a model for how business in the food and beverage industry should be done.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if every café or restaurant you went to could answer transparently where the coffee comes from, what will happen to the cup once you throw it away, and how much environmental impact that coffee and the business that served it to you has?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

At TGB we are trying to solve the problem of a conflict of interest between environmental impact and sustainability versus profit. We believe that its not only absolutely right to care about our planet and our community, but it can be done on a profitable level as well.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

What if every café or restaurant you went to could answer transparently where the coffee comes from, what will happen to the cup once you throw it away, and how much environmental impact that coffee and the business that served it to you has?


2015 Global Good Fund Fellowship Award
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our project has been a part of major change in Armenia. In 2012, we were the very first non-smoking café in Yerevan. It seems simple, but this concept alone has resulted in the opening of 8 other non-smoking restaurants in Armenia since then. Our to-go cups are now featured at two of the major hotels in Yerevan despite costing more than the environmentally unfriendly alternative. Every year, more and more partners join our cause to raise awareness. Just this past year, we partnered with a German group NABU to hand out free reusable cotton bags as we pushed for legislation to rid the country of plastic bags. Currently we are raising awareness about the health benefits of milk alternatives while promoting education in rural districts.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

TGB's impact can be measured on several levels. On an environmental level, we annually reduce nearly 600kg of virgin pulp usage and 100s of kg of potential CO2 emissions through our usage of biodegradable and compostable to-go products. We have a no plastic policy on all of our beverages, which reduces the potential of over 10,000 plastic bottles ending up in landfills. To date, we have helped raise over $250,000 for NGO/charities in Armenia through our focused coffee campaigns. These campaigns in include Teach for Armenia, Women's Resource Center for Abused Women, OneArmenia foundation, Orran Orphanage and many others. Our annual giving results in nearly 12% of after tax profits and we believe that number can be even greater. The goal is to have a target of 15% donations of after-tax profits, $250,000 annually in raised funds from our campaigns and waste diversion spread to other cafés.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Our main spread strategy will be a concentrated effort of cluster operations throughout cities in the US. Given the US competition and the market size, we believe that within 5 years we can have a 10 locations running with a significant impact on local communities. We also want to be a major part in affecting how other players in the US market see environmental expenses and giving expenses. The full impact goal will have several of the largest purveyors in the coffee industry looking to us a positive example for doing business and essentially leading their choice to make conscientious changes.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Currently we sustain through a profit based plan. We can continue expanding and maintaining our high level of quality through this profit. In the near future we will need investment help, but we believe that our model with its low start-up costs and high social impact, leads to quicker turnovers for a shorter payback period. We believe that transparency and high quality will keep customers coming.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are several companies that are participating in the "B-Corp" scheme in the US. This in itself is positive news for our expansion there. There are also several companies that are strongly approaching certain areas of what we are doing. For example, Pret a Manger is an industry leader in organic coffee and has a strong community presence. But there is major room for improvement in their environmental impact. Our studies show that there are no extremely strong examples of companies that are focusing on nearly every aspect of responsible and sustainable business.

Founding Story

The Green Bean Coffee Shop was founded in 2012 by two adventurous Armenian sisters and their husbands. The coffee shop in itself was sculpted to be something new in every way for the Armenian market. The first 100% non-smoking, environmentally friendly and community oriented café, the owners had no idea that the business would instantly be a huge success and be such a large part of shaping the food and beverage landscape in Armenia. A major part of the beginning success of TGB can be attributed to the Syrian Armenian refugees that formed the original staff of TGB and now comprise most of TGB's core management. The owners and management of TGB continue to strive for innovative F&B solutions.


IRINA GHAPLANYAN, CO-FOUNDER AND BRAND DIRECTOR Irina is a recent doctoral graduate from the University of Cambridge. Her academic research and civic activism, combined with having a long-time passion for entrepreneurship and ecology, were the driving factors behind her active participation in co-founding and running of The Green Bean Coffee Shop. MARIANNA GHAPLANYAN, CO-FOUNDER AND FINANCIAL DIRECTOR Marianna is recovering from being a successful global bond-trader in both the dynamic markets of Europe and risk-driven Russian markets. Her ability to translate the nuanced needs of diverse market participants into product design won her favored relationships with many financial service institutions. Her successes afforded her opportunities to live in Switzerland, Malta and Italy where she thoroughly explored the complex food systems and culture and hence, foresaw the opportunities in her beloved Armenia. Since the inception of the TGB, Mara has been an essential driver of their celebrated financial oversight, transparency, and managed risk-taking. IVAN SCHAERLI CO-FOUNDER FOOD AND BEVERAGE COMPLIANCE DIRECTOR Straight out of high school, Ivan was taken under the wing of the very controversial yet celebrated financier Mark Rich and successfully worked in the cut-throat and high political risk laden field of fixed income sales for over 15 years. Ivan’s encyclopedic knowledge of his portfolio’s commodities and an intuition in market behavior allowed him to dive deeply into his passion of food systems. He traveled through out Asia with a focus on discovering and learning culinary techniques and ‘farm to fork’ pathways. Today, he is responsible for TGB’s food and beverage direction and has brought many food professionals and businesses together to address systemic challenges and seize opportunities for supply chain improvements and storage. DAVID BEQUETTE, CO-FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR After 5 years in the United States Marine Corps, this serial entrepreneur moved to Armenia with his family and explored the market space. While running a large food and beverage company with over 300 staff and managing several of the group’s franchises including Segafredo Cafe, Cinnabon and Southern Fried Chicken, he started a successful export-driven production and sales company selling unique pro-biotic based products. He is an instructor at the Agribusiness Teaching Center (a Texas A&M program), where he teaches masters and undergrad courses in Marketing and Management. He is dedicated to holistic marketing practices and is the developer of TGBs management training programs.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

The Global Good Fund

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

co-founder and Brand Director

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

As an academic and political scientist, I had no entrepreneurial experience before The Green Bean.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I am fortunate to have a large network of mentors and advisors. Some have come from the GGF fellowship as appointed mentors and coaches and many have come from my time in the academic field. I have leaned on many of them to help define areas that need work or to get feedback on the work that we are doing.