The coffee woman with entrepreneurial genes in the family
Primavera Coffee is a specialty coffee exporter founded in 2013. Primavera Coffee has built relationships with small-scale producers in Huehuetenango and Fraijanes, which are said to have potential as coffee-producing regions in Guatemala, and they share the appeal of these areas with the world. The company has its headquarters in Guatemala City as well as offices in the US and the Netherlands that also function as importers. They started working with TYPICA last year as their partner in Asia.
The headquarters has a cupping lab and a roaster cafe. The cafe is considered to a rare spot and a beautiful space where you can enjoy specialty coffee.
The founder Nadine Rush has a petite figure with an innocent smile that makes you want to call her “a girl.” I liked the gap between the way she carried herself and her position as the founder of a rapidly growing coffee company. She told me last year in Guatemala that she would have children someday, but when I saw her online after more than a year, to my surprise she had already become a mother. Her innocence was still intact, but her expression seemed a little softer than before. I talked to Nadine about Primavera Coffee and asked about her background.
History of Primavera Coffee
It all started back in 1880. Her ancestors, who were coffee importers in Hamburg, Germany, came to Guatemala to manage estates four generations ago. Coffee production started during the time of her great-grandfather and the coffee farm was passed on to Nadine’s father. Nadine’s father mainly runs the business of producing and exporting high-end commercial coffee. Nadine, the eldest daughter of the family, entered the world of coffee after having a completely different career.
Nadine says, “I studied finance at a university in London and I started working for a hedge fund there. I happened to be involved in a commodities fund and saw the reality of how coffee is traded firsthand. By looking at Guatemala from outside Guatemala, I was able to learn more about what was going on in Guatemala. I couldn’t shake off my suspicion about the international price of coffee as I had suspected. I decided to start my business Primavera Coffee that specializes in micro-lots of specialty coffee nine years ago when I was 23 years old. People around me said I was crazy. (laughs) I thought so myself, but I had to do it.”
She wanted to increase the value of Guatemalan coffee, create a commercial flow, and develop it into an industry that would bring a fair and appropriate profit to the producers. It was this desire that drove her to start her business at such a young age.
“My second sister started a solar energy business in San Francisco and my third sister works for her company. We probably have entrepreneurial genes running in our family. We have the motivation to find what we love, act on it, and make things happen. I’m the only one who inherited the coffee business, but there was no pressure from my parents at all. When I was younger, I wanted to work in a big, beautiful office, and not on a coffee farm, but I ended up back in Guatemala.”
When I had lunch with Nadine, she said, “working in finance or anything like it wasn’t a good fit for me. I was bored. I think I’m much more comfortable running around a coffee farm.” Perhaps, it was this physical quality that lured her into the world of coffee.
Changes over the past nine years
Nadine states, “When I started this business nine years ago, it was still rare to find a business in Guatemala that specialized in micro-lots specialty coffee. In the first two to three years of the business, I had to work hard to build relationships with producers and roasters and understand the market. It was full of challenges. Producers were skeptical. ‘What do you mean a young girl like her wants to buy coffee from us?’ Yet they gradually came to understand how much we were contributing to them. From that point on, the scale of our business has grown over the years, and it has become easier for us by communicating with producers to get specific information on who produced coffee and what kind of process they went through. This ensures that transparency is in place.”
“It’s great that we are currently working with 300 small producers. We can create a social impact by helping those who don’t have access to markets, and, more importantly, we can foster relationships with them. For example, when my child was born, the producers sent me gifts congratulating me for the birth of my child; it’s like having a family relationship. We mainly deal with coffees from Huehuetenango and Fraijanes. Coffee from Antigua is very popular worldwide, but the price is very high and we feel it’s valuable to deal with the coffee from a particular area that has unlimited potential.”
The challenges of starting a business as a startup in the historic Guatemalan coffee industry are immense. Coincidentally, the curator of Peru, Lisanne from Cultivar, had an internship at Primavera Coffee to learn from Nadine before starting her business after she left Trabocca. With a career spanning nine years of closely working with coffee origins from young age, Nadine has had a huge influence on the industry.
About the future
Primavera Coffee has grown rapidly over the past nine years, but how does the company see its direction in the future?
Nadine states, “Primavera Coffee has grown quite rapidly since it was established, so we want to take our time to grow the business gradually over the next five years. I think you know this and the most important thing to improve quality is to educate producers, which takes a lot of time. Coffee-producing areas are very large, so it’s very difficult to just reach out to the producers and hold seminars. I would like to have the next five years as the time that prioritizes the relationship with the producers. Personally, once the COVID-19 situation settles down, I would like to travel around the world again. My husband is an architect, so I think he would be interested in Japanese architecture as well and I would love to visit Japan.”
The slogan “From Seed to Cup” shows that we live in an age where not only people who are working in the coffee industry but also regular consumers are becoming more aware of the connection with coffee origins. The number of people who agree with the values of Primavera Coffee is expected to increase in the future. As roasters from all over the world access Guatemala’s undiscovered production areas and producers, the positioning of the Guatemalan coffee industry will also change. A new wind is blowing in Guatemala where traditional coffee origins exist.
Written by Ayane Yamada
MY FAVORITE COFFEE
My favorite coffee is a clean and juicy one. I brew freshly roasted coffee from Huehuetenango with V60 every morning.