MotMot Coffee

MotMot Coffee helping Nicaraguan and Vietnamese farmers through direct trade

MotMot Coffee is an Albers student-founded and Albers student-run direct trade coffee brand. It was named after the national bird of Nicaragua. The non-profit now has a team of six student executives, led by CEO Charles Burr (Marketing ’23) and their sales benefit coffee farmers in Nicaragua and Vietnam.

How it all started and the business problem that was being addressed

A bag of MotMot Nicaraguan coffee‘Braden Wild, International Business and International Development Economics ’18, was always interested in fair trade. This prompted Dr. Sue Jackals from Seattle University’s College of Science and Engineering and Albers’ Dr. Quan Le to invite him to accompany a group of faculty and students going to Nicaragua. The team would be looking at the quality of Nicaraguan coffee, do a water filtration project, and review economic research on fair trade vs non-fair trade coffee.

While in Nicaragua, Wild and Le found that farmers were getting out of organic and fair trade coffee because of the poor returns. By the end of the trip, both had come up with a plan to offer farmers a price that allowed them to profitably produce organic fair trade coffee and create a sustainable supply chain from Matagalpa, Nicaragua to Seattle. The profits would help fund education for the farmers’ children and assist in healthcare expenses.

Today MotMot is a proudly direct trade operation that partners with coffee cooperatives in Nicaragua and, since 2019, Vietnam. It pays premiums higher than Fair Trade and its vertically integrated supply chain assures no middlemen take a percentage of the money that coffee farmers earn.’

How the coffee business has changed since MotMot started

‘Learning the local coffee business from when I was here last year in our online phase to now where we are again fully in person has been a dynamic experience. It has changed our marketing and has changed our focus on how we want to reach students and interested customers. In-person marketing is a new experience to many of our student employees. Organizing events and tabling is new territory for students who haven’t been able to learn in-person marketing over the past two years.’

How running MotMot has taught students about the coffee business

Students at table selling MotMot Coffee on campus‘MotMot grows to about a dozen students every year when our internship program is in full steam. In the two years that I have been at the company, Motmot has served as a learning experience for at least 20 students.

It’s a really unmatched hands-on learning experience as Motmot is a fully incorporated 501c4 nonprofit that, from top to bottom, is run by students. I don’t know of any other university where students are presented with this opportunity to learn and to grow with such a unique company.’

What’s next for MotMot: Growth and reconnection

‘Motmot is onboarding this year’s intern team as well as, again, going through the coffee ordering and import process. Our focus for this year is to reconnect with the university and our local partners. We’re working hard on being known to the freshmen and sophomores who may not have been as familiar with us and reinvigorating our on-campus and Seattle-based presence.’

MotMot Coffee will be running its annual holiday promotion over the holidays. Check out what they have to offer at their online store.

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