2020 Newsmaker of the Year: Young entrepreneur makes her mark in global world of coffee

Francesca “Frankie” Volkema Courtesy Joven Coffee

CATEGORY: Startups

WINNER: Francesca “Frankie” Volkema

COMPANY: Joven Coffee

At 14 years old, Francesca “Frankie” Volkema launched her own line of coffee, Joven Coffee.

Although she is the daughter of Sparrows Coffee and Schuil Coffee owner Tim Volkema, she has carved out her purpose and mission for her own coffee line, which was influenced by two countries she visited.

Her coffee line supports young people in Colombia in South America and Burundi in Africa. She was inspired by her visit to Colombia when she realized that the average age of a Colombian farmer is 57 and there is a lack of young coffee growers there.

She decided to buy coffee from Cafinorte’s Young Coffee Producers Program, which supports 200 young people from Northern Cauca to become sustainable coffee producers.

Volkema also visited Burundi, where she learned about seven female entrepreneurs under the age of 35 who formed an investment group to purchase their coffee mill. Now, Volkema also sources and roasts coffee from those young female farmers.

She showed her coffee intellect when she became the world’s youngest professional coffee grader at 13 years old. Volkema passed the “Q,” which is a series of tests from the Coffee Quality Institute that measure an individual’s coffee knowledge, sensory perception, olfactory skills, “cupping” or tasting and coffee grading.

“These experiences — from passing the Q, to visiting Colombia and talking with young farmers, to creating my own coffee line — have been so much fun and an incredible learning experience for me,” Volkema said. “I’m excited to support these farmers in Cauca and Burundi and inspire more young people to become involved in the coffee industry.”

Click here to read about the other winners of the 2020 Newsmakers of the Year.

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