Best of the Week 2019-2020: Excellence in College Prep
ST. ED'S WELCOMES ENTREPRENEURIAL ALUM TO SPEAK ABOUT HIS HISPANIC HERITAGE
AND FAIR TRADE COFFEE BUSINESS
St. Ed's welcomed Pablo Lopez '14 back to his alma mater to speak to current Edsmen about his Hispanic roots and the story behind his thriving Cleveland business, Mocina Coffee. Growing up in a Guatemalan family, Pablo Lopez has been drinking coffee since he can remember. Coupled with his Hispanic culture's strong coffee tradition, Pablo's love for entrepreneurship led him to create a profitable and sustainable coffee business. During his time as a student at St. Ed's, Pablo's desire to become an entrepreneur emerged and motivated him to find a way to add value to the world. "St. Ed's gave me a lot," says Pablo. "I would've been a totally different person if I went to high school anywhere else. St. Ed's allowed me to practice entrepreneurship while in high school and my teachers, especially Mr. Andrew Allen, taught me how to communicate and form relationships with others."
During his senior year studying Finance at Case Western Reserve University, Pablo was studying for an exam at 6:00 a.m. in a local Starbucks when he saw an advertisement for coffee grown in Huehuetenango. At that moment, Pablo had an epiphany. Huehuetenango, home to some of Central America's most prestigious coffee farms, is where Pablo's father and grandfather were born and where many of his aunts and uncles currently own coffee farms. This was the first time he had ever seen this Guatemalan city marketed anywhere in the U.S., leading him to question where American coffee shops get their coffee beans. Putting his entrepreneurial skills to the test, Pablo thought of a way to simplify the coffee trade process and cut out the middleman in the coffee supply chain. With his radical idea of having his family-owned farms in Huehuetenango grow and roast the coffee beans on-site to create a fair trade coffee, Pablo would be able to pay over 34% more for both services, far more than other fair trade companies. Wanting to learn more about the coffee making process, Pablo traveled to Huehuetenango's coffee farms and spent two weeks researching and learning about the different processes that go into running a coffee business. Teaming up with his friend, fellow Edsman and current business partner Farris Khouri '14, Pablo sought to create sustainable coffee that combined his Hispanic heritage, his love of entrepreneurship, his passion for authentic Guatemalan coffee and his desire to add value to the world.
Tying his Guatemalan heritage into his business even more, Pablo named and designed his company, Mocina Coffee, after the national bird of Guatemala (Mocinno) and the Mayan diety that symbolizes goodness and light. In September 2018, Pablo and Farris launched Mocina Coffee, selling their natural, medium roast coffee La Sagrada Familia online, at all 19 Heinen's locations and at Lake Road Market in Rocky River. "Farris and I were just two young guys in college, balancing part-time jobs, who had a dream to create a successful company by combining his knowledge of the food industry and my knowledge of coffee. We made it against all odds and created a successful, growing company," says Pablo. "I come from a strong family of hardworking immigrants who have been important to my identity. Being bilingual in a global world has helped me in my business and has made me a more valuable asset with emerging markets. I've learned that time is a scarce resource, failing often is good, and that convenience isn't always what's better." Pablo ensured current Edsmen that they are being provided with the best tools at St. Ed's to become future entrepreneurs. He encouraged them to have the persistence and courage to keep going if they have a passion for entrepreneurship and a dream of owning their own business and to always strive to add value to the world no matter what they do in life. To learn more about Mocina Coffee, visit https://mocina.coffee.