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Growing your Business through Empathic Entrepreneurship in this Time of Pandemic

Hey there! I’m Bev and my partners and I roast coffee in San Diego. We started our coffee roasting company almost 7 years ago and our dream was to be able to provide a sustainable livelihood to people in the Philippines. We are all first-generation Filipino-Americans and our parents are all from the Philippines.  In […]

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Hey there! I’m Bev and my partners and I roast coffee in San Diego. We started our coffee roasting company almost 7 years ago and our dream was to be able to provide a sustainable livelihood to people in the Philippines. We are all first-generation Filipino-Americans and our parents are all from the Philippines. 

In 2009, my best friend and I took a trip there. We visited a village where the people don’t have much… what they were wearing was probably the only clothing they owned. These beautiful, generous people fed us, possibly going without food themselves. During our travels, we visited an orphanage and hospital where we gave out small chocolate bars. You should have seen how brightly their faces lit up… it was like Christmas Day! At that moment, we realized the only difference between us and them was opportunity. We won the jackpot when our parents immigrated out of the country and came into the States. 

Then, we discovered something nobody knew…

These lovely people were growing high-quality coffee! It seems in the early 1900s, the Philippines was the fourth-largest producer of coffee in the world. Coffee production fell off because of poverty and corruption mostly. Right then, we decided to start a coffee roasting company using their amazing beans. 

We decided to build our business in the States, and we knew it would be necessary to create a platform and a demand for Philippine coffee. We had no business background, but we were determined to succeed. I got ten thousand dollars from my mom and bought a one-pound coffee roaster and installed it in my garage. Then, we got five thousand dollars from my grandparents and bought four 125 pound bags of beans. 

Then, we started roasting, and Mostra Coffee was born. 

Now, seven years later we’ve become the largest producer of high-quality Philippine coffee in the U.S. We won the 2020 Micro-Roaster of the Year (which is an international award and one of the most coveted awards in our industry.) We’ve collaborated with breweries all across the nation (nearly 600 times!) including Stone Brewing and some other pretty big breweries in the business. 

Most importantly, we’ve been able to help sustain the livelihoods of over 80 shareholder farmers in the Philippines. It’s never been just about the coffee. It’s always been about a movement of people who are uplifting communities globally and locally. 

People have asked how we were able to open up a second coffee shop last month in the middle of the pandemic. We’re continuously trying to grow, yes. But we never forget what’s most important: uplifting people and communities. 

There’s a definite lack of empathetic entrepreneurship out there, and I think we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift away from the traditional way of doing business. People may think it’s about the numbers and statistics and data, and sometimes it is, but for us, It’s also about what our guides and intuition tell us. We try to never stray from that and never doubt it. That’s always been our guiding principle. We stick with our morals and values and remember our mission and vision, I don’t think you can go wrong with that. 

We’ve been able to create a tribe of superfans who are crazy loyal to Mostra Coffee. I think a lot of people don’t know how to build a fanbase. At Mostra Coffee, it’s about small, basic things. For example, when customers come into our shop, our staff knows to treat them as they would visitors to their own homes. At the end of the day, that’s really what it’s about. Human connection, doing good, collaborating, and uplifting individuals and communities. Once you start doing that, people are going to buy your products. For us, it’s never been just about the coffee. Coffee is just a vehicle for us in creating a culture of care.

My advice? Figure out what your mission and vision are, then articulate that in everything you do. Know things beyond your product, know what you’re about. For something like coffee, there are so many companies that sell coffee, what is it about your business that makes you different than the coffee shop down the street? 

For us, it’s been about the local and global communities we serve and support, and how we’re uplifting those communities and giving back. I think gratitude and giving are hugely important and you can never go wrong in making those a part of your business. During this pandemic, we’ve seen a lot of coffee shops and other businesses close down, and it’s been so sad to see. We know we’re very blessed and fortunate to grow this during this time. 

We strive to become the light, and want to give people hope. 

So remember, if you live in gratitude and generosity, you can never go wrong in your business

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