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Teen in Michigan launches coffee line, supporting next generation of coffee farmers

Posted at 11:41 AM, Aug 18, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A Grand Rapids teen is making sure your morning cup of coffee stays brewing for years to come with the launch of her new coffee line, Joven Coffee.

"Joven means 'young' in Spanish, so that is why we chose it because we're supporting young farmers," said Frankie Volekma, founder of Joven Coffee.

At 14, Frankie is the youngest coffee Q grader in the world and is launching the coffee line to support the next generation of coffee farmers.

"We're just trying to make it a viable career option for a lot of these young farmers because a lot of times it's a low paying career to be in coffee farming," she said.

In coffee producing countries like Columbia and regions of Africa, farmers are primarily 57 years old or older.

Frankie's concern is those farmers will eventually retire, and there won't be enough young farmers to take their place.

"I think it's an important issue, and you're going to hear more about it over time," said Frankie's dad, Tim Volekma, owner of Sparrow Coffee and Schuil Coffee. "I feel like maybe we're one of the first people to sort of bringing it to bring light to this issue."

As a young professional in the coffee industry, Frankie says she feels it is her calling to use her talents to support young farmers who may not have the same opportunities she does.

She teamed up with young farmers in Columbia and a group of women farmers in Burundi in Africa and created two single-origin varieties under the Joven Coffee name.

"It's really cool for me to be able to be a part of something that is making an impact on the world," she said, "and even if it just helps a couple of farmers, that really makes me feel great about myself, and that I'm making a difference."

Learn more about Joven Coffee

This story was first reported by Savannah Fish at WXMI in Michigan.