A new player has decided to jump into Grand Rapids’ strong craft coffee scene. Family-owned Soldadera Coffee recently debuted its cold-brew coffee inspired by “café de olla,” which traces its origins back to the 1900s during the Mexican Revolution. The bottled cold coffee is available via its website with plans to stock it in stores across Grand Rapids.
Soldadera Coffee was recently selected as one of 100 ideas that will compete for $20,000 this month as part of Start Garden’s 100 Ideas initiative. However, the company is no stranger to Start Garden, as it already has three business competition wins from the startup funding organization under its belt.
Mario Rodriguez, founder of Soldadera Coffee, discussed the history behind Soldadera Coffee.
“During the revolution, Mexican women played a critical role, not just on the battlefield but with duties such as cooking for those fighting the war,” explained Rodriguez. “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.”
Traditionally, the cold coffee was made with piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar from Latin America), coffee and (when available) cinnamon.
In true 21st-century fashion, Soldadera uses a blend of Certified Organic, Fair Trade and rainforest-safe coffee beans sourced from Guatemala and Mexico (known for their more chocolatey notes). The grinds are steeped in cold water for up to 12 hours and then combined with a honey-like substance of spices – cinnamon, anise, cloves, and piloncillo.
But coffee is just the start of Soldadera’s work. Promoting itself as “coffee with a purpose,” the company aims to generate awareness of women’s issues by sharing stories via podcasts and social media channels.
In fact, the name “Soldadera” (Spanish for female soldier) was inspired by Rodriguez’s grandmother, Christina, who was a social activist for female justice in Mexico.
“Soldadera comes with a mission, one focused on generating awareness to minority women’s issues through storytelling, primarily via podcasts and Facebook videos to connect with women and talk about their stories to inspire others,” said Rodriguez.
More specifically, a portion of the company’s sales will be used to produce content like podcasts and videos as well as to fund community event participation to help minority women.
Rodriguez’s father Cesar, sister Gaby, and wife Erinna make up the rest of the Soldadera Coffee team.