Volcanica Coffee: From Costa Rica farms to Amazon success
CEO Maurice Contreras shares the family-owned brand's journey.
CEO Maurice Contreras shares the family-owned brand's journey.
Twenty years ago, Maurice Contreras visited a coffee farm in Costa Rica during a family vacation.
He immediately recognized the difference between the taste and quality of the coffee being grown there with that of the United States, where the purpose was most often just to drink coffee to wake up.
“I realized that there was an opportunity to bring great tasting coffee from Costa Rica to the United States,” Contreras said.
He ended up writing a business plan on the plane home.
It was the trip that launched Volcanica Coffee. Today, the journey continues. The brand was onhand at the NRF Big Show in New York this week as part of the Consumer Products Showcase, highlighting breakout products. Volcanica, which is USDA Organic certified, was nominated by Amazon to exhibit.
In an interview with The Current, Contreras shared the steps that the brand took to grow over the years.
Contreras started the business as a part-time venture while he was working as a regional director at AT&T. Coffee was sold through the brand’s website. Volcanica imported coffees from Jamaica, Kona and Costa Rica. In the beginning, it grew each year, sticking with the plan he laid out. Eventually, it grew out of the garage. Then, it outgrew a co-packing relationship. Contreras decided to build a coffee plant. Now, it has a 12,400-square-foot roastery in Atlanta, with 20 employees.
With each step, Contreras said it was important to prepare and seek expertise. When a business function is new, doing as much research as possible can be a guide in unchartered waters.
What started from a family vacation is now a business with the whole family involved. His wife Diane Contreras is VP of sales. Contreras’ son Aaron is the director of coffee. Adriana, his daughter, is the director of operations. Contreras’ mother painted the original logo.
Today, the brand imports coffee from 40 countries. It has 150 different flavors, each originating from volcanic regions of the world. On Amazon, it is a top-15 coffee vendor. It also sells on walmart.com, and still sells direct through its website.. Contreras is aiming to work with brick-and-mortar retailers, as well.
In 2023, it is looking to expand its private collection of coffees. Several varieties are fermented, and mix in fruits such as mango and orange with the coffee.
“That’s the next wave of coffee that we’re seeing because the coffee tastes really good,” Contreras said. “It's a fermented coffee that has different flavors that you wouldn't find at a convenience store.”
Sometimes, Contreras returns to the original business plan. He can see the notes he wrote on the plane reflected in a business that continues to grow today.
Dealboard has funding and M&A updates from ecommerce aggregators and forecasting software.
This week, the aggregator space is active with M&A, IKEA is ready to roll out newly-purchased warehouse management software and Authentic Brands Group acquired a boot icon. Plus, there’s new investment to report for YouTube influencer Emma Chamberlain’s coffee brand and retail forecasting.
Here’s a look at the latest deals:
Chamberlain Coffee, the consumer brand founded by YouTube influencer Emma Chamberlain, raised $7 million in new funding.
The financing included backing from existing investors including Blazar Capital, Chamberlain and United Talent Agency. New investors include Volition Capital, Electric Feel Ventures, L.A. Libations and Noah Bremen, founder of PLTFRM.
The new funding follows the launch of a Ready-to-Drink (RTD) product and coffee pods. Previously, the brand raised a Series A in August 2022.
"Creating a uniquely inviting coffee brand has been my dream for so long now, and having key investors back us allows us to build Chamberlain Coffee in ways that feel fresh and exciting,” said Chamberlain, in a statement. “There are so many products I am eager to develop and projects I'm excited to get working on. With such an incredible team and group of investors I am more excited than ever to see what the future holds for Chamberlain Coffee."
Impact Analytics, a software company for retail supply chain and merchandise planning, raised new funding from Vistara Growth.
The new investment, the amount of which was not disclosed, comes after Impact raised funding in February 2021 and October 2022 from Argentum.
The funding will help Impact Analytics further develop its Impact Analytics SmartSuite product portfolio, which is designed to help optimize forecasting, merchandising and end-to-end lifecycle pricing. Rather than the traditional forecasting approach of basing decisions on the preceding year, Impact Analytics applies a model that includes 150 variables from internal and external sources, while combining recency and history. Clients include BJ's Wholesale Club, Dick's Sporting Goods, Puma and Tapestry.
Selva Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on consumer brands that promote healthier living, closed its second fund at $34 million, TechCrunch reported.
With the new funding, Selva will invest in brands across categories including health, wellness, beauty and personal care. The fund expects to write checks of $1-2 million in seed and Series A startups, while assisting in areas like finance, operations and retail partnerships.
Backers of the second fund include Unilever Ventures, PagsGroup and Obelysk.
Nautica and Forever 21 owner Authentic Brands Group acquired the intellectual property of Hunter, a 160-year-old British outdoor lifestyle brand known for its Wellington boots.
With the deal, ABG appointed longtime partners Batra Group and Marc Fisher to execute retail and ecommerce operations, as well as continue to expand the brand in the UK and U.S., respectively.
“At the intersection of fashion and outdoor, Hunter introduces another elevated global brand to Authentic’s diverse Lifestyle portfolio,” said Authentic CEO Jamie Salter, in a statement.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The investment arm of IKEA parent Ingka Group acquired the warehouse management software platform Made4Net.
As a result of the deal, Made4Net’s software will be deployed across IKEA’s 482 stores and fulfillment centers. Made4Net will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary of Ingka, with a headquarters in New Jersey. CEO Duff Davidson will remain at the helm of the company.
“Our business currently requires a better fulfillment operations system with more accurate data that better supports handling for our customers,” said Tolga Öncu, head of retail at Ingka Group, in a statement. “Our goal is to become leaders of life at home, serving more people in an omnichannel reality, whenever and however customers choose to meet us.”
European ecommerce aggregator SellerX acquired Elevate Brands, a U.S.-based aggregator.
The combined companies will be known as SellerX Group. It will comprise a portfolio that includes 80 Amazon-native private label consumer brands in categories including sports and outdoors, home, mobile accessories, pets and consumables. The portfolio will span over 40,000 products.
With the deal, SellerX Co-CEOs Philipp Triebel and Malte Horeyseck will lead SellerX Group, while Elevate Brands cofounders Ryan Gnesin, Jeremy Bell and Robert Bell will remain in key leadership positions.
“This acquisition combines our know-how and diversified portfolios of strong brands with a market-leading technology platform and strong operational infrastructure,” said Triebel, in a statement. “By leveraging our combined strengths, I am convinced we are well-positioned to drive further consolidation in the industry.”
Ecommerce aggregator Society Brands acquired Wolf Tactical, a tactical gear company.
Founded in 2017 by Tim Wu, Wolf Tactical makes products including DC belts, range belts to weighted vest and tactical backpacks.
"I started Wolf Tactical by myself as a side hustle with very limited knowledge of business and entrepreneurship. A combination of hard work and relentless learning allowed me to build it into a multi-million-dollar business," said Wu who will remain as brand president, in a statement. "With the help of Society Brands, I have access to untapped potential that I would not be able to achieve by myself.”