Business & Technology

CoffeePLUG’s Quest to Redefine Coffee Industry Equity and Empower Farmers

todayMarch 30, 2024

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By Kiara Santos


A joint venture in expelling the stigma around the coffee industry, Nikisha Bailey and Matthew Nam are preparing to launch CoffeePLUG, a company where consumers can connect to farmers directly.’s Sarah Huffman joined Tonya Pendleton on Reality Check to discuss how Bailey and Nam’s Win Win Coffee brand and its longevity prompted the launch of their platform to streamline the coffee supply chain through CoffeePLUG.


Nam noted the marketing versus the origins of coffee, and how the supply chains are juxtaposed with themes of gentrifications in coffee shops. He explained that reclaiming the image and representation of coffee is a step forward to bring equity in the coffee economy.


“You generally see them at the farmers, the farmer side, or you see them at the retail side. And there are so many areas within the supply chain where people who look like us can add more value and that’s a big part of it; we want to be able to somewhat reclaim coffee,” Nam said. “Part of what makes gentrification so bad is that the people who live in these communities who look like us participate in it.”


Bailey and Nam described their brick-and-mortar shop, Win Win, that was founded six months before the COVID-19 pandemic. Less than one percent of the revenue sales go to the farmers. On the cafe side, in order to make money, “you must participate in the manufacturing,” said Nam, which led the co-owners to interrogate the sourcing, aggregation, and milling of the crops. 


Nam took his prior experience in medical technology to his more commodity-adjacent sector. He explained how he advances the digital operations of communication between farmers and buyers. Farmers and cooperatives are digitally mapped, which according to Nam, satisfies the supply and demand. 


“We have agro scientists who can help with 3D-printed tools to be able to save on water, to be able to pull in multiple different data points, to be able to track poverty indexes of how are we using this demand from anchor institutions from the Western country, to be able to move these farmers out of poverty – but tracking for poverty indexes,  pooling all these different data sources to track for trust,” he said.


The platform features a trust score – an index that tracks whether involved parties are being paid on time, if farmers are sending the right quantity bought and other measures, Nam explained. 


Nam and Bailey described how they were able to pivot themselves from a B2C (business-to-consumer) model to an e-commerce B2B (business-to-business) model, amid the COVID-19 lockdown and how technology was vital to keep their business alive. The CoffeePLUG platform had “predictability,” according to Nam, which allowed it to work with contractors and seamlessly streamline their supply chains. 


Nam nodded to the need for diversity in the coffee industry after Nam and Bailey ventured on a trip to Colombia to be judges in a national coffee competition. They noticed a stark lack of diversity of people working within the industry. The experience inspired them to return to the country and collaborate with Afro-Colombian coffee farmers despite challenges in language barriers and regional differences. However, the relationships they fostered with 400 different entities was, for some, their first commercial contract established. 


“We took this intention to be able to find these farmers, and we executed it by buying from these farmers. And I feel like this is what CoffeePLUG is all about.” Nam said. “We were able to figure out from a B2B standpoint due to technology, but we were trying to solve bigger issues that connect our global economy, but also our local economy. And I think when you have that type of purpose in your business, I feel like you’re able to expand out.”

This article and interview were made possible with support from the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund. 



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