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Meet Julia Peixoto Peters of Peixoto Coffee in Chandler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julia Peixoto Peters.

Julia, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in a family of coffee farmers in Brazil, watching my father work hard every year to produce coffee, an extremely difficult crop and when it was time to sell the coffees, he was rarely compensated for the costs of production or able to sell for what the coffee was worth. He would tender his entire production to local co-ops to pay his debt, not knowing the destination of his coffee or the price it was sold for. I never understood why coffee was not profitable for farmers or why it had to be traded that way.

Having gone through the ups and downs of coffee as an agricultural product, my parents encouraged me to steer away from coffee and to pursue higher education. Because of the instability of the economy and political landscape in the 80s and 90s in Brazil, my generation was encouraged to go to college and pursue professional careers. There were really only a handful of options: you could be a doctor, a dentist or a lawyer because those were the only careers that would guarantee a comfortable living in Brazil. So, despite having creative juices inside me, I followed the path laid out for me. I went to law school in Brazil and when I graduated, I came to the US in 2002 to do a masters program in Tucson, AZ.

I worked as a lawyer for a global shipping company for over 10 years, met my now husband Jeff, had two kids and lived a very comfortable living with a proverbial and literal corner-office view. I was not uncomfortable by any means but I had this voice inside me telling me that I had to do something else, that I had to leave a piece of myself in what I was doing. I started wandering and looking for purpose. I came to realize that my father – then 70 years old – was the last of his family members still farming coffee and carrying his family’s tradition in coffee. I had this strong calling — my “a-ha” moment — telling me that I had to do something with my family’s coffee and legacy. Every time I thought about it, I felt alive and awakened and never had any doubt in me of whether I should move forward. My husband was different story. A very skeptical aerospace engineer, he met the idea with a healthy dose of hesitation. He questioned why we would leave our security blanket and stability behind to live of an uncertain passion. After much back and forth and a lot of day as well as late-night dreaming, we decided to take a leap of faith and start Peixoto Coffee in 2015. Both my husband and I left our corporate jobs to build our own legacy in coffee.

My original vision of opening the doors for my family and other farmers’ coffees to be traded directly with where it is consumed continues to be our North-star today. Peixoto Coffee is one of less than a handful of coffee businesses in the US that farms, roasts, and serves its own coffees, cutting back on a lot of middlemen in the process who make a profit but do not add value to the coffee supply-chain.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road to entrepreneurship and business ownership has been a magnificent one but has presented its fair share of challenges and lessons along the way. Most roasters in the country buy coffees that are already in country or under contract to be brought into the US by an importer. Because of our business model, we go to Brazil each year during our harvest season, work on the lots of coffee we want to bring in, process and prepare them ourselves for shipment, then come back and wait for months until those bags of green coffee arrive at our shop (sometimes 4-5 months later!). It takes Herculean efforts to get the coffees we want from the farm to the cup. There are always challenges in every segment of coffee journey from our farm to our consumer’s cup, from weather related problems (too much rain, not enough rain, frost) to loss and theft of coffee, to paperwork delays, coffee is a living product that has to withstand all these unknowns before it gets to our roaster.

We’ve been keen on staying true to our original vision of carrying my family’s legacy forward, we have never accepted outside investment. This helps us ensure the integrity of our vision and model but it also poses challenges as we can only grow as fast as we can with with our own resources generated by Peixoto Coffee. Challenges are a constant in a small-operated business but the lessons you take from them is what sets you apart on your journey. Challenges are some of the things I love the most about entrepreneurship, how creative and resourceful one has to be to make a big impact with (very) limited resources.

Peixoto Coffee – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Peixoto Coffee is a specialty coffee roaster, coffee shop, as well as a wholesale coffee distributor operated out of our shop in Chandler AZ. We are located right in the heart of the historic district of downtown Chandler where most the local community events, locally-owned businesses converge. We picked this area because we wanted to be in a unique setting where local artisans and business owners make up the community. We could not be more pleased to be where we are, surrounded by small unique businesses.

Our space reflects the warmth, the hard work, the heartfelt connection we have with our family’s coffee farming tradition and with where our coffee comes from. We want everyone who comes through our door to feel the warmth and deep story that comes with every cup we serve. We are known for our extremely friendly and knowledgeable service that comes with every craft beverage served, and we hear often in our reviews and customer feedback that it is clear that our baristas enjoy working at Peixoto, embracing our vision for the business.

Peixoto is also committed to the transparency, sustainability and quality of our coffee and offerings. With every coffees we bring from our farms we know exactly where the coffee comes from, how it was harvested and processed. We pay significantly more per pound of coffee from our farm because we want to sustain the lives, whether human or environmental lives that depend on the coffee. Since, we started buying coffees directly from our region in Brazil we have been seeing more money being allocated towards quality and environmental improvements at the farm level. When a customer buys a cup or bag of Peixoto, she can be sure that the farm and farmer producing the coffee is making a sustainable living with their product and that we are living as little impact on our land as we can. When it comes to other products which we choose to offer at our shop, such as milk, chocolate, vanilla, etc, we make everything in house and, to the extent feasible, and from local sources, so we only offer the highest quality local ingredients to complement our coffee. We support a community of 20+ local businesses/artisans that bring us the products we use at our shop.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career in coffee has been working at the farm to select and process our coffees and then watching those same coffee seeds we had our hands on be unloaded off a truck by our door. There is no better sense of gratification for me personally than to see that I am leaving a piece of my family’s legacy – and a piece of myself – in what I do. I believe we all have our song inside us, Peixoto Coffee is my song, I am honored to be singing it to the world!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Katrjiana Marker,  Peixoto Coffee

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