Is this your first venture/company? Yes, this is my first venture. I was born and raised in Costa Rica; before I came to the USA I worked in several industries like the coffee industry, finances and agroindustrial biotech. What inspired you to start your own business? Tico Coffee Roasters is a boutique company that specializes in unique and exclusive coffees and the finest teas from around the world. Coffees are hand roasted in small batches and the teas are carefully curated to guarantee product freshness and consistency. Our goal is to provide a truly unique experience. I grew up in a small family in the Central Valley in Costa Rica, surrounded by coffee plantations. It was a joy to play there, to see the coffee pickers and the trucks full of the red cherries and to experience the delicious smell of the coffee flowers. I have been drinking coffee all my life. I often share that when I was a little girl I used to wake my mom up early on the weekends, so she could brew me some coffee! :) It is part of our culture, coffee time is really an oasis in a busy work day, we pause and deeply enjoy this delicious drink. I love nature and always wanted to follow a career that allows me to be in contact and working with nature and at the same time and to make a contribution to sustainability. I studied Agricultural Economics at the University of Costa Rica and worked with coffee farmers from whom I learned a lot and also learned to respect and admire the dedication they put into growing this crop. When I moved to the USA I was missing that connection and relatedness that happens in the neighborhoods or the coffee houses. I was missing that great cup of coffee. I visited many independent coffee shops looking for a better coffee and it was hard to find it. I researched how to import coffee, about the equipment and so on. I really wanted to create beautiful flavors and to be sure of the entire process, value chain and the end result. So I chose to roast the coffee myself. And I said, if I’m going to start this I’m going to start with the best. I buy only specialty coffees which means they have 85 points and higher (out of a scale from 0 to 100 points - like in wine, coffees have scores and different qualities). I also buy only micro lots which is a coffee which comesA from a specific part of a farm, region and country. For the teas, I also did a lot of research and tasted many of them. After a while a found the ones that I really liked; they are loose leaf teas that range from the traditional black, green and white tea to other more exotic, some fruit and herbal teas as well. What type of impact do you envision your company having in the market? I hope I can make a difference in the Latino market in the USA, in a way so that they see and value their coffee and tea. But specifically for coffee, I want them to learn and bring them closer to a product that has a face and a real story of someone from their country. I want to continue working with the traditional American market and share with them what Latinos are capable of doing, that we can and want to work hand in hand to bring innovative products of the highest quality to the United States. I want to positively impact the life of farmers and their families and communities back in the coffee lands, that they are rewarded and appreciated for what they produce And finally I want to provide a product that is sustainable and that is growing in harmony with the environment, coffees and teas that are healthy and share all this information with consumers so they can make wise purchases. How did your team come together? I have a degree in Agricultural Economics and another in Business which contribute to the success of fast pace in sourcing coffees and developing and nurturing the relationships with our farmer and partners as well as creating partnerships in the Bay Area to expand our impact. My husband and I wanted to build a business together and something that we both felt passionate about. He is German and has fallen in love with coffee and with Costa Rica. In the numerous trips back home he has appreciated more and more the work of coffee farmers and he even became a judge for a competition called Cup of Excellence that allows our company to find exquisite coffees. He is a successful engineer who brings all his knowledge in IT, and previous entrepreneurial experience to our team. How has your journey been so far? It has been an amazing experience! I have learned a lot especially because I jumped into this idea soon after I moved to the USA. We are now selling not only online (direct and on Amazon) but also in several specialty supermarkets and are providing our products to restaurants, cafes, wine bars, tea houses and spas in the Bay Area. When I see my customers happy, then I know we are helping them to create an experience with their end consumer, then I know it is worth the effort. What would you like the community to know about you and your company? I would like them to know that this is a latino woman owned business who is working directly with farmers in different countries in Latin America, that is making a difference for people in those countries improving their income, their communities. I would like them to know that for every product I bring, I have thought of them here in the US because I have listened what they like, what they feel proud of, where they come from and that they would like to drink coffee from their home country…. I’m still working on some origins!! I also want to share with them that here is no middle man intervening in the negotiation since we buy directly form the farmers. We go every year to visit the coffee plantations and we can see how they grow the coffee, talk with them about the sustainable practices they use, we can see if the reuse resources at the farm level and also if they are incorporating new technologies that will help them reduce resources like electricity or water. We also provide them with new ideas and help improve their practices, so they also can get better results in their products and with that improve their lives and their communities. What advice do you have others that are thinking of starting their own company? I would tell them that if they have the opportunity and they are really passionate about what they do, if they feel deep inside that what they want is going to make a positive impact, then they should go for it. I would tell them also to be patient and have love and compassion for themselves. Being and entrepreneur is not easy and implies a lot of sacrifices but here is where your passion has to be big and strong so it will keep you going despite the bad moments that will happen. Also, please share anything that you may feel that may be interesting for our readers. We have some workshops and presentations about coffee and tea, like processing, origins, brewing methods, coffee cupping, coffee and tea tastings. They are open to the public so everybody can come to learn and have fun. They are always announce in our website, newsletter and social media www.ticoroasters.com
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