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Cocoa and Coffee - Company History

Cocoa and Coffee - Company History

Jan 14, 2024

Iliana Delgado Chegwin, founder of Why Not Coffee Importers Corp (WNC), comes from a coffee-producing family in the north of Colombia, South America, and has been working in the coffee industry since 2010. While the family business has been producing coffee since 1998 and exporting coffee since 2002, it wasn’t until 2013 that Iliana and her father, Dario Delgado Salazar, decided to take a step forward in the business and created their own exporting company in Colombia. While Iliana has been working with her father for 13 years, they have both learned about the green coffee market simultaneously. Iliana’s background in International Business allowed her to understand how to get the product out of Colombia and properly into other countries, and Dario’s background in logistics operations and customs management allowed him to quickly understand that although he had coffee farms, he could only make a profit if he turned those farms into a piece of a bigger agro-industrial company aiming to export. Their combined knowledge and determination to thrive allowed them to start up and grow 3 coffee producing farms, one coffee mill, one coffee roasting company, and one coffee exporter in Colombia. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and changed the world in both personal and professional areas. For Iliana and her father, Covid-19 helped open their eyes to a world of possibilities that for more than 20 years had been thought to be impossible. Today, WNC has a unique selling point: their owners and operators, Iliana and Dario, who are well-known in the coffee industry both in Colombia and in the US. The opportunity to import coffee into the United States resulted from the pandemic, where the decrease in sales along the entire value chain forced companies to step outside the box and find new revenue streams. While it may not have been the best time to think about importing coffee into the US, Why Not Coffee Importers was able to close an account for their first business that allowed them to kickstart the plan and take the leap into becoming coffee importers. While exporting coffee is not the same as selling coffee, owning the entire operation grants every sale and business transaction greater traceability for all parties involved. 

Iliana’s trajectory and experience offers her a unique advantage in this business and in this day and age. After working with her father for 7 years, Iliana took a leap and worked for The National Coffee Growers Federation in Colombia, coordinating sales of specialty coffee in the entire country; after that, she worked as a Relationship Manager for a high-end specialty coffee exporter, also in Colombia. Her accumulated experience in the coffee industry includes being a speaker at national and international industry events, participation in industry-specialized trade shows in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas, and technical visits to more than 10 coffee-producing countries in the world. Additionally, her experience in green coffee sales has given her first-hand knowledge in regards to negotiation, pricing, marketing strategy, and volume and quality requirements for different markets and clients, world-wide. Considering the above, Iliana has identified that the Southeastern coast of the United States is an underserved coffee market, not only in the amount of specialized coffee shops, but also in the available suppliers of green coffee, roasted coffee and coffee services. For this reason, Iliana decided to venture into the world of coffee in the USA, based in Jacksonville, Fl. As an international air- and maritime port city, Jacksonville is strategically located to be able to serve the entire Southeast and beyond. 

WNC was originally created as a company to import her own coffee from Colombia into the USA; the mission statement was clean and simple: to provide the most reliable green coffee in Florida. While it may seem broad, reliability in coffee means delivering on time, delivering the contracted quality, and being able to guarantee consistency throughout time. Compared to other businesses, it may seem rather basic and perhaps even a given; but coffee is a dynamic business, where trends change fast and keeping up requires for every part of the supply chain to rely on each other to ensure success. For this reason, WNC offers clients the possibility to truly engage in direct trade, eliminating unrequired middlemen and also speeding up the logistics of the trade by working one-on-one with companies at origin (Colombia) and at destination (USA). After nearly a year and a half of successful operations, a second phase has been set in motion, where WNC will be offering coffee services in the underserved Southeastern USA.  

On the supply side, WNC works exclusively with companies owned by Iliana and her family; this way, the company is able to offer traceability, transparency, consistency and -most importantly- agility in their services. Since the company was founded in 2021, WNC has imported 4 containers of coffee for 3 different clients in the USA, which stand for 998 bags of coffee (154,000 pounds of green coffee) for a value of more than US$400,000. 

In this first phase, WNC has only offered and sold green coffee (considered to be the raw material and main ingredient to produce roasted coffee, ground coffee and coffee-based drinks) from family-owned coffee farms in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia. WNC’s coffee is packed in 70 kg jute bags, which is an ideal handling unit and the best packaging material known world-wide to properly keep coffee fresh and safe for transportation and storage. 

Currently, the company’s business operates from two different locations, both in Jacksonville. The first one is the main office located in 2120 Dennis St. Suite, which serves as the company’s commercial office and mailing address. The second one is Dupuy Silo Facility, a company dedicated to storing and handling coffee in the USA, which currently holds WNC’s coffees and delivers as monthly orders are placed. Dupuy is a company known world-wide and is highly regarded for their pristine locations, agile operations and transparent services.