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Meet Mariana Faerron Gutierrez of Tico Coffee Roasters in Campbell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mariana Faerron Gutierrez.

Mariana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Costa Rica and I moved to the US almost 14 years ago. At the beginning, it was very hard to adapt to this new life. I was missing home and our lifestyle. As I tried to get out to see different places and find a new purpose for this life, I visited different coffee shops as drinking coffee is part of our daily ritual in Costa Rica.

That was another cultural shock because I realized Americans drink a lot of coffee but it was so dark roasted, bitter and super hot! I was so disappointed I couldn’t find even a decent drip coffee. Then, every time I went back home I stock my suitcase with coffee to bring back to the US. I realized this was a business opportunity and a way to fulfill a dream that started during my university years: owning a business.

I studied Agricultural Economics and worked with coffee farmers so I learned a lot from them about quality and production. When I had my business idea, I went back to some of them to ask them if they could sell me coffee to bring to the US and several said yes. Our first import were three bags! And my husband and I started the business in our garage. My dream was and still is to bring the highest quality coffee from different producing countries and at the same time to connect consumers (wholesale and retail) with the farmers and share their life stories and challenges so they receive a fair payment. In the last three years, our focus has also been to purchase coffee from women producers and highlight their stories.

Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t been easy. At the beginning we imported raw coffee beans and we tried to give samples to some local roasters in San Jose but they were very skeptical and didn’t buy. Also, nobody was willing to roast the coffee for us. I’m a go getter so I said: nobody is roasting this for me, I will do it myself! We purchased a roaster, took class, had some trial and error and soon after we were selling coffee to friends, neighbors and online. Another thing that was a little challenge at the beginning was to build the reputation of our company. Even though we have the mission of providing an excellent product, people didn’t know who I was. I have to work very hard to let people know about me, my company and our coffees.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Tico Coffee Roasters story. Tell us more about the business.
Tico Coffee Roasters craft roast sustainable, exclusive and unique Grand Cru coffees in very small batches and import the finest teas guaranteeing product freshness and consistency. Driven by a passion for excellence, we have specialized in bringing only the best coffees and teas directly from the producing countries. And because we are a boutique roaster, we have the liberty to choose from the best Arabica green coffees and the world’s finest teas for a truly unique experience.

Tico Coffee Roasters is named to honor the heritage of Costa Rican coffee growers and to reflect the origins of Mariana and her love for coffee. The word Tico is a colloquial term that is used for a native of Costa Rica.

I am the CEO of the company, which in a small business means you do a lot of different things! But my main role is to do the outreach, business development and share our passion and love for coffee.

We are known for our high quality, unbeatable service and for having very unique coffees and teas available. Our differentiation is the personal touch, the transparency and integrity we have in business and looking to fulfill our customer’s needs. Another differentiation is that this is a woman-owned business. But beyond that, I’m one of the very few (maybe the only one?) woman from a coffee producing country to start a coffee roasting business and take the roasting art into my hands.

I’m proud that I started Tico with zero experience of how to do business in the US and just three years after I moved to this country. We have grown and become a respected company to which people, other companies and producers in different countries look for reference, benchmark, training, and advice. Now companies want to do business with us because they have learned through referrals that we can deliver what they are looking for and the high quality of our product.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The coffee industry is always evolving. The future is focusing more in the sensory experience. It will be not just about a great coffee from a specific origin, it is about how is presented, served, unique combinations in drinks, etc. The “ready to drink” market all continue growing as well as the segment of instant coffee for the specialty market.

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Image Credit:
Tico Coffee Roasters

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