When you buy a latte at your local cafe, you’re probably not thinking about the dozen-plus steps those coffee beans went through to get to you.
Nikisha Bailey has always loved coffee, tracing that love back to Saturday outings with her family as a kid.
“I just always felt like coffee was a place of community and a place where I felt comfortable,” she told Technical.ly.
She eventually took over ownership of Win Win Coffee Bar in Callowhill in 2019, but was forced to close the store because of pandemic restrictions in 2020.
Bailey and her cofounder Matthew Nam needed to find a way to continue making revenue and wanted to continue their brand. They decided to source and produce their own brand of coffee.
That experience gave them a look into the process of producing coffee and the barriers people of color face. Through the Win Win brand, they are now launching a tech platform called CoffeePLUG, which connects coffee farmers around the world directly to buyers — coffee brands and roasters.
The B2B platform cuts out middlemen in the supply chain so farmers can earn more for their crops and buyers can get the coffee for a better deal. A win-win situation, if you will.
“Every time the coffee moves, or every time it gets to a middleman or intermediary, the farmer’s going to earn less and the buyer’s gonna have to pay more,” Bailey said. “But because we’re able to cut out those middlemen, and allow both sides to have a clear connection, we’re actually able to give the farmer more and have the buyer pay less.”
The platform aggregates all of the steps to buying and selling coffee, provides links to partner organizations in the coffee manufacturing process and allows users to track where their product is in the process.
Before launching the platform, Nam visited farmers and interviewed them to get a better sense of the supply chain process and the challenges the farmers face. He told Technical.ly he remembers thinking: Why isn’t there a tech platform to organize the process?
“The birthplace of coffee comes from Black and brown countries, but they don’t see the majority of the revenue,” Bailey said. “And so our mission was always to empower that supply chain, that specific supply chain, by allowing them to actively participate as a farmer, as a cooperative and to be able to, you know, sell directly to the buyers.”
Win Win Coffee is in the final stages of building the platform and plans to run a pilot in mid-February, Bailey said. The eight-person company aims to launch a pre-seed round this quarter.
The company also plans to open a warehouse in Kensington in May for coffee roasting, manufacturing and distribution, as well as a meeting space for employees, and a community space to teach Philadelphians about coffee production.Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Knowledge is power!
Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.