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Braden Wild, ‘18


Business and Economics

Expanding Markets for Fair Trade Coffee

Though still a junior, Braden Wild, ‘18, is already running his own company—a “special purpose corporation”—and that company is making it financially feasible for small coffee growers in Nicaragua to produce organic, fair trade coffee. SU student research opportunities and an internship in finance at The Boeing Company have inspired and supported him along the way.

As a freshman, Wild traveled to Nicaragua with student researchers and Seattle University professors Sue Jackels, PhD (College of Science and Engineering) and Quan Le, PhD (Albers School of Business and Economics). There, the Albers dual-degree student in business and economics learned that farmers had little financial incentive to grow organic coffee beans when they were reaping just 20 to 30 percent of the profits. In response, he created Café Ambiental coffee, sold at the Seattle U Campus Store. Those farmers now enjoy 65- to 70-percent returns, enough to support sustainable cultivation.

Café Ambiental, which involves four paid interns and two dozen students from Albers, will expand sales to other university campuses in 2017. Wild envisions a future working in global coffee and hopes for Café Ambiental to continue beyond his graduation.