Hi! My name is Ana Cristina Guirola (Cristy). I am the co-owner and founder of TerraNegra Trade Company, (now TerraNegra Coffee Imports) and this year we are celebrating 4 years of operating and being able to share some amazing coffees produced in Guatemala. We are an import company who specializes in sourcing Guatemalan Specialty Coffees and import them into the United States and also, we’ve partnered with importing friends in Australia to share some of the best Guatemalan Coffees produced by our admirable producing partners.
The thing is, I am not just a business owner, I am also a daughter, a friend, a sister, a wife, a mom of 5-year-old twins and a year-old baby. I am now also a Homeschool teacher assistant since March of this year. I got this new title, along with thousands of other moms and dads, due to the pandemic we are living worldwide.
I consider myself a proactive and positive person, but when challenges such as this one, to put the name everyone knows COVID-19, come to us, it’s hard to know how we will react. As some may have noticed, I have been a bit silent on Social Media these past few months. The reason is simple: it has been hard for me to put in writing how I feel, how we are coping with this new normal, what strategies we have to adapt to, how would this affect all our hard work since founding our business. When all of this started, I started reaching out to our producing and our roasting partners to see how they all were, how we could help them get through this year, what terms could be more beneficial, how I could get them all the info and tools they needed to make purchasing decisions without me travelling and be beside them to make them. You see, every year, we have our Origin Trips and also, we organize a cupping tour in the US to be able to represent in the best way our producing partners and their coffees in the cupping table, we take hundreds of grams of samples every time! So, this way, we can take a piece of Guatemala to our Roasting Partners. Anyway, to do it in a new way, instead of traveling, everything would have to be done by phone, by e-mail and with the help of International Air Mail. It was a new strategy for us, especially since we love to visit our partners. How could we do what we used to do, and be able to bring Guatemala to their home, and do it in the safest possible way? We adapted, and yes, we knew this year was going to affect us, but not only us, everyone in the industry (and many other industries!). We just needed to support one another, in any way we could, to get through his year and become stronger for the future to come.
Our sales did drop form our yearly growth projections, but something else grew instead: our friendships, our partnerships and my respect, which was already high I might add, to my producing and roasting partners and to all involved in the chain. I learned so much from our conversations, from their IG stories or workshops they shared. Many faced many challenges and my heart goes out to them because I know how hard it is to know something unexpected can shake and sometimes destroy the foundations you already have created for your business. Others reinvented themselves to succeed amidst all that was going on and they still are to this day.
(Photo credit: @betochester)
So today, I just want to say THANK YOU, much LOVE and RESPECT to you all. To our friends, partners, to our families for your patience, love and for sharing your light with us and many others.
Thank you to all those amazing producers, that each day work so hard, sacrifice so much to be able to produce delicious coffees. Thank you to all who are involved in the middle ground, our exporters, wet and dry mills, quality control managers and Q-graders, Customs Brokers, other Importers, drivers, warehousing, roasters who take the best expression of amazing coffees and who, together with our awesome baristas, finally reach the drinking consumers. Oh! One thing I absolutely love about this industry, is that it brings soooo many people to work together, to achieve one final goal and share the same passion which is COFFEE.
So, thank you to you all for being our inspiration to stand up, stand strong and get through this.
Much love and respect,