It’s no secret that the people who farm and create coffee are dedicated to the craft. Their passion for the art makes the growing, harvesting, and brewing well worth the process. Cosecha Del Sur Coffee Company is the product of a farmer’s passion and a friend recognizing that her 2.5 hectares of coffee trees were worth the investment.
In this Small Business Spotlight, we talk to Charlie Stephens about the inspiration behind Cosecha Del Sur Coffee Company and how he leveraged his past experiences to bring amazing coffee to tables everywhere today.
If you enjoy hearing about Cosecha Del Sur Coffee Company’s story, you can find out more on their website and on Instagram.
In March 2020, Charlie Stephens went to Valle del Cauca, Colombia for a hemp project. While there, his friend and farm owner, Liliana Gutiérrez Gaviria, served him one cup of coffee. Soon, one cup turned into three.
Liliana explained that she had poured everything had into her craft and coffee farm. She had 2.5 hectares of coffee trees, and had employed local women to work for her. Still, she explained to Charlie, it was difficult to make a profit because the market prices for coffee were well below the cost of production. To continue growing the unique coffee that Charlie loved, it would take a significant investment.
Charlie made a business proposal to Liliana and asked her to give him a few months to figure out branding, export, import, roast, and beyond. Charlie was well equipped with his international commodity trading experience to manage these challenging aspects of the coffee industry. He’d handle the logistics, and Liliana would handle the coffee production in Colombia.
From that handshake, Cosecha Del Sur Coffee Company was born.
Being a Solopreneur
Charlie talked to us about how, at a traditional company, you often work alongside many groups of people. But for a small business, owners often have to rely solely on themselves. That’s why Charlie says that solopreneurs shouldn’t worry about what other businesses are doing - because there will always be someone who is bigger, better, and more funded.
When we asked for additional advice for entrepreneurs, Charlie said that small business owners should strive to focus on the very next step in front of them. You’ll need to keep track of and knock out the mundane tasks before accomplishing your dream!
Charlies disagrees with the “fake it until you make it” notion that industry leaders often promote. He believes that a business should always be transparent with itself - whether it’s regarding its strengths or struggles. Charlie constantly tries to be conscious of whether or not he is adding value to the experiences of the customers and the people he works with.
It’s OK to Make Mistakes Along the Way
During any new entrepreneurship, decisions don’t always work out the first time. Oftentimes, trial and error can be the best way to learn. Charlie shared that early on in this journey, he impulsively hired a law consultant thinking it would be necessary. Turns out, it wasn’t a good investment of money or time. From this, he learned to thoroughly research anyone before involving them in the company.
Another learning experience? Charlie paid upfront for branded coffee bags before seeing the complete prototype. Turns out, all of the bags misspelled Colombia as “Columbia”! Always confirm the details if you’re in a situation where you have to pay in full before seeing the product.
Using Past Knowledge to Help with the Coffee Business
With his experience in commodity trading, Charlie is always thinking “What’s a new commodity?”. This question keeps the wheels turning as he works on new Cosecha Del Sur products.
Charlie’s past career also helped him think about how he could improve the lives of the people on the backend of the commodity market. For one, he wants to work collaboratively while still giving farmers the ability to negotiate prices.
Charlie was able to found Cosecha del Sur with his understanding of the value of excellent suppliers. He works closely with dedicated, expert farmers across South and Central America, using his knowledge of global supply chains to get the best blends in the business to every customer’s doorstep.
If you want to learn more about the Cosecha Del Sur, or even get some coffee delivered, head to their website.