Coffee startup has activist flavor


Courtesy Soldadera Coffee

A family business is brewing “coffee with a purpose” for West Michigan.

After winning three Start Garden business pitch events, Soldadera Coffee is launching its cold-brew, authentic Mexican brand in Grand Rapids.

The brother-and-sister team of Mario and Gabriela Rodriguez devised the name Soldadera — Spanish for “female soldier” — as a tribute to their grandmother Cristina, a social activist in Mexico.

“Being raised by this woman taught us that injustice, like women’s inequality, can be a challenge, but we can all still make a difference,” Mario Rodriguez said.

Soldadera’s coffee recipe is inspired by the “café de olla,” or coffee from a clay pot, that originated during the Mexican Revolution in the 1900s.

“During the revolution, Mexican women played a critical role, not just on the battlefield but with basic duties such as cooking for those fighting the war,” Rodriguez said. “The cafe de olla — a blend of coffee, spices and sugar brewed in clay pots — that the women prepared became a popular drink and staple among the soldiers, since it served as a much needed energy boost, helping them maintain their stamina throughout the war.”

Soldadera cold-brew coffee can be purchased via the company website, and soon will be available for retail in Grand Rapids.

The company also has a mission to raise awareness of minority women’s issues via podcasts and Facebook videos to connect with women and talk about their stories to inspire others.

The Business Journal recently covered Soldadera Coffee’s selection as part of Start Garden’s 100 Ideas initiative. Contestants will compete in July for $20,000.

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