Takeaways

1

Nadine grew up in a family of coffee farmers but started her career working in finance.

2

In 2013, she founded her company, Primavera Green Coffee, with the goal of supporting small producers in Guatemala.

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3

Nadine says that Primavera is focused on making the coffee industry more sustainable—environmentally, economically, and socially—and making sure that producers are centered in the conversation.

Nadine Rasch

Founder & Director, Primavera Green Coffee; Founder & Managing Director, La Central de Café S.A.

Expertise: Q-grading, Q-processing, green coffee sales, sustainability, coffee importing & exporting

Coffee insight: The vast majority of coffee production is done by small holders; eighty percent of coffee is produced by 25 million small holders.

Coffee fun fact: When Nadine was working in a commodity with commodities at a hedge fund, her nickname was Coffee Girl, because she was the only one who knew anything about the product they were working with.

U3 Top 3 What’s your favorite brewing method? V60 What’s your coffee drink of choice? black How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? 1 to 2

Nadine’s Coffee Origin Story

In spite of the fact that Nadine grew up in a family of coffee growers, she was confident that she did not want a career in coffee. “You don’t want to do what your parents do,” she jokes.

As she started considering careers, finance piqued her interest. She majored in finance in college, and after graduation, attended the London School of Economics and took a role working with commodities at a hedge fund in London. She quickly realized that the coffee market was being influenced by people who knew very little about coffee. “It didn’t make sense to me that people that had never seen a coffee tree had the power to change, up or down, the price of coffee just based on their study of the market,” she recalls.

Nadine knew she had something unique to offer the industry. She’d grown up in a coffee-producing country, in a family with a history in agriculture, but after years living in the US and the UK, she also had a clear perspective on consumer demand as well. She saw an opportunity to make change in the industry and “focus on smaller producers and making a difference to all the families that grow coffee, starting with my own and our neighbors.”

Nadine’s Current Role

Today, Nadine is the founder and director of two successful coffee businesses—Primavera Green Coffee, her importing company, and La Central de Café, her exporting company.

She founded Primavera in 2013, while she was still living in Europe, with five Guatemalan producers; today the company works with more than 400 producers.

Over time, a new vision for her business, and its potential impact, emerged. Nadine explains, “What I realized is that with all the smaller roasters, we needed to have a way to be completely vertically integrated, so we are the only person between the roaster and the producer…So I moved back to Guatemala.” She founded La Central de Café, an exporting company focused on Guatemalan coffees, which includes its own mill for processing and warehouses located close to their small producers.

While initially concentrated only on Guatemala, Nadine’s company has expanded thanks to customer demand. Now, they source coffee from small holders in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia, with plans for further growth.

What Fuels Nadine’s Work

Nadine says that from the very beginning, there was one key goal she had in mind. “The idea always goes back to making sure that the producer is the center of attention in the supply chain,” she says, “and that they’re more recognized for the work that they do, both economically as well as socially and personally. So it’s really about lifting the producer up.”

Nadine says one of the driving tenets of her business is that they should help ensure their producers are earning a sustainable income from their work. The company offers courses on cost structures so that producers understand their cost of production and how to adjust their pricing accordingly.

What Nadine Wants Coffee Drinkers to Know

Nadine emphasizes the power coffee lovers have to shape the coffee industry in positive ways, pushing it toward more sustainable practices. And she’s got the numbers to prove it:

One [coffee] tree produces around…2.5 kilos of cherries, which turns out to be about 1.5 kilos of roasted coffee. That’s around forty cups. So if you drink one cup of coffee a day, you need ten coffee trees to supply you with the coffee you’re drinking…You do have a choice and a vote with that.”

She believes that the more educated consumers become about the complexity of coffee production, the more they’ll understand that “it’s not just a cup of coffee, but that there is a family, a person behind that cup.”

Primavera is doing their part to foster that understanding. When the pandemic shut down travel, Primavera put together a series of videos that could serve as a virtual visit to origin, showcasing the work, knowledge, and expertise that goes into producing coffee. They also publish a yearly sustainability report to promote transparency across the value chain.

How Nadine Cultivates Community through Coffee

Nadine is focused on supporting producers and helping them create viable, sustainable businesses to support their families and their communities. “We don’t just come during the harvest, buy the coffee, and leave the rest of the year,” she says. “So that’s one of the key things that makes us different, that we’re truly trying to change, and by doing that, we are ensuring that coffee is sustainable for the long-term as well.”

One of her favorite examples of this investment in their producers came through her work with the Chain Collaborative, a nonprofit that supports communities in coffee producing areas. They asked their farmers what resource would be most helpful—the answer wasn’t what they expected. “We said, oh, you know, a nursery, organic fertilizer,” she recalls, “and they came up with…that they wanted chickens.”

By listening to their producers, they were able to find a way to give them the support that would most benefit them. The eggs produce a constant stream of income that helps coffee farmers ride out the volatility of the coffee market. It also provides their rural community with easier access to a source of nutritious food. Within a few months, they’d provided the community with more than 300 chickens. For Nadine, “It goes to show how interconnected everything is in the culture of coffee in a country like Guatemala.”

Where You Can Find Nadine

Primavera Green Coffee website: https://www.primavera.coffee/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/primavera.coffee/

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