Francy Alarcon, founder of La Meca Growers & Roasters, was inspired to start a business to improve working conditions for farmers in her native Colombia.
"My parents come from well known coffee regions in Colombia," she said. "The situation for farmers in Colombia was difficult and government policies weren't helping. My main aim in starting the business was to improve community conditions by selling more specialty coffees and by conducting direct and fair trade. My first step was to return to my roots and get involved at the coffee farms on my dad's side."
Alarcon, with her university degree in international trade, began building a vertically integrated coffee production and export company.
"After that, I got trained as a roaster and barista and continued training as a coffee tester," she explained. "Then we saw that we had everything we needed to open a coffee shop, so we did. I enjoy teaching people about good coffee, we are involved in the whole process from the seed to the cup. We grow single-origin coffees and specialty coffees. Single-origin means you know everything about the coffee so you can tell the customer drinking it about the region, who farmed the beans, the name of the farm, how it was farmed, at what altitude, how it was picked and roasted and what flavor profiles it has."
Alarcon's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to be persistent. "It's not easy, but you can never give up," she said. "The first years won't be easy. If you really want to make it happen, you have to never give up."
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