Giraldo Farms: Andrea Giraldo
Pearl River, NY and in every supermarket!!
The instantness of Giraldo Farms instant coffee melds perfectly with our fast paced and time-strapped culture. Introduced at the 1901 World’s Fair in Buffalo, helped on in WWII and, by the Seventies, relegated to the pantries of grandmothers everywhere in a Maxwell House jar, instant coffee is still cheap, fast and the lowest volume solution for morning java to go—just tastier. Giraldo Farms’ percolates to the top with eco-conscious, artisanal roasts that each rehydrate single-origin (100% Colombian) beans (Arabica) into an aromatic cup as good or better than coffee from a drip pot, Keuric or decent restaurant.
Andrea Giraldo, forced to flee to New York from Colombia with her husband and 4-year old son when guerillas threatened abduction and worse, she used her hometown contacts to help her develop a namesake brand to give Melita, Kraft and Folgers heady competition. Supermarket taste testers (buyers) continue to give Giraldo Farms the thumbs up. Thanks to a $50,000 loan from Community Capital NY, Andrea was able to take her emerging business to the next level by adding decaf and organic to her instant coffee line to meet demand. Here she describes her addiction to this brand of caffeine:
How did you get into the coffee business?
In 2002 we fled Colombia, harassed by guerillas who mistakenly thought my husband, president of an agricultural company, was in a position to pay ransom. We had to start over, and moved back to New York, where I was born. Originally I created a line of coffee beans from seven different regions of Colombia, and for one and a half years tried to work extremely tight margins, competing against Melita, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Stores like Fairway had bushel after bushel of beans and there was no way I could compete. I went back and did some research and found that instant coffee—really good instant coffee—was possible using my connections, and I stopped being a bean counter.
How did you get your business off the ground?
I founded A&G Trading in 2002 as a specialty food broker, distributing food from Colombia, and was invited to trade missions to Mexico, Egypt, Costa Rica and Spain to check out new products for importing. In 2011, I began selling my own brand, using my contacts here and in Colombia–“Giraldo Farms,” a tremendous, high quality instant coffee sourced directly from my hometown Manizales in Caldes, Colombia. My client roster was great, 200 stores including Zabar’s, ShopRite, Fairway, and Eli’s, but customers and distributors were demanding decaf and organic versions of the Giraldo Farms Coffee. A loan from Community Capital NY for $50,000 made it possible for me to purchase the inventory and expand my business. In 2012 I was awarded the Latino Business Spirit Award in the Latino Business of the Year category.
How did your business evolve?
I was able to renegotiate with the factory when we moved to producing the more expensive organic and decaf products, and was able to split a container. Giraldo Farms is marketed as 100% Colombian, where most instants are not, and from Arabica beans. It costs a little more–$5.99 a jar—but it’s a move toward taste and quality instead of a cheap instant.
When did you know you’d arrived?
Demonstrating the product in different supermarkets, and being accepted into Fairway was a proud moment, and I’m in the coffee section, not down a canned-goods aisle.
What do you wish you knew?
How to get local food chains and supermarkets to pay more attention to local women-owned businesses like mine. I have my New York state certification.
I need to expand my market and have to figure out what’s next. I have the option of adding flavored coffee like hazelnut, vanilla, or mocha, or I can do instant coffee sticks, which are used by caterers at hotels and which have been popularized by Starbucks. Or, I can add a large 7 ounce big jar, requested by some of my clients’ customers who prefer to buy in quantity. I also need to figure out how to get to scale. Even if I could get into Target, how would I fulfill a $200,000 order? In order for a container to arrive here on Day X I need to order it four months in advance and have the money on Day X to pay for the container. Growing the line, getting more distributors and clients, opening up new markets and adding to the markets I currently have means introducing new products.