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Taylor Fields: Changing Coffee and Changing the World

Taylor Fields: Changing Coffee and Changing the World

Hi, everyone! It’s Spiffy, your favorite interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making a difference in gender equality. Join me as I welcome Taylor Fields, the founder and CEO of Nostalgia Coffee Roasters.

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Taylor! Can you tell me what challenge Nostalgia Coffee Roasters is addressing?

Taylor: Happy to be with you, Spiffy! At Nostalgia, we are addressing multiple issues every single day. First off, we are providing an exceptional tasting single-serve coffee in an eco-friendly and ethical format that has never been done before. Second, we are tackling the lack of equality in the industry by ensuring that LGBTQ, BIPOC, and women are placed in leadership roles at Nostalgia. Third, we are working to rid the industry of poor pay, high turnover, and poverty. We lead by example and provide our team with a thriving wage and our producers a thriving rate.  Lastly, we are addressing the global climate crisis by making sustainability a crucial factor in every decision we make.

Spiffy: What motivated you to do all this?

Taylor: Don’t get me started, Spiffy! First off, I LOVE coffee, so that will always keep me going. But what truly drives me each day is the recognition that Nostalgia has the ability to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of LGBTQ people, BIPOC, and women around the world, including my team members’ and our partners' lives.  As a gay woman, I know first hand what it means to be marginalized, given less opportunities, and fundamentally treated like less of a human. I will work my butt off daily to ensure there comes a day when no one has to feel marginalized again, and everyone is given a fair shot at anything they want to do. Nostalgia can be, and is, this vehicle for change.

Spiffy: Terrific! Tell us more about the concrete ways that you and your team at Nostalgia are working together towards a more equitable world.

Taylor: For us, it all starts with hiring and building a diverse team. We want a leadership team that reflects our community and values. When hiring, we create the most inclusive and diverse applicant pool possible, which eventually leads to LGBTQ, BIPOC, and women having opportunities to be in leadership roles at Nostalgia. We also ensure that no matter what age, gender, race or sexual orientation a team member is, they earn a thriving wage equal to their counterparts. A thriving wage is one that allows an individual to flourish and lends the individual access to a fulfilling life. Additionally, we seek out minority- and female-owned coffee farms and purchase from them whenever possible, always at a thriving rate. 

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent initiative by Nostalgia. What impact does that make?

Taylor: We are most proud of our Give a Five to the Farmer program. In it, we share 5% of our revenue with producers around the world. This exemplifies our commitment to improving the lives of those we work with no matter what, profitable year or not. Coffee producers have been marginalized and taken advantage of for so long that simply purchasing coffee at a thriving rate doesn't always cut it. These producers need extra capital to make investments in equipment, in innovation, and in their teams. In doing so, they can increase their yield and quality, and improve their own livelihoods as well as those of their teams and communities. We believe everyone is entitled to a happy and fulfilling life, and Give a Five to the Farmer is Nostalgia’s step in that direction.

Spiffy: It sounds like a wonderfully impactful initiative! Please also share with our audience an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from that?

Taylor: Sure! We recently received a huge agreement from a large customer to buy a lot of our coffee. However, we didn't have enough money, coffee, or people to capitalize on this opportunity, so we did what most companies would do in a similar situation and went to traditional banks for a loan. After waiting months and completing tons of applications, we received a grand total of zero dollars. It sucked, and I thought we missed out on a must-have opportunity. But, those classic words ‘don't give up’ and ‘find another way’ always stayed in my head, so I stuck with it. I switched my thinking and approach, and I ended up finding mission-driven investors in our community to invest in us! Turns out this was the best thing that could have happened, as we now have an awesome team of investors and advisors that provide so much more than just money.

Spiffy: That is huge—thanks for sharing! What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?

Taylor: I recently learned from someone just how resilient and adaptable humans are. One woman who is a good friend of mine has gone through a divorce, lost her kid, and moved to a new city, all in just the last year. Yet, during that time, she has also learned a new language, found a career she loves, and is finally happy. She is a perfect example of how humans are capable of pushing through extreme pain and adversity. With tragedy-defying optimism, the human mind can overcome any challenge if the willpower to do so exists. I remember this everyday when things get tough.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Taylor: We are committed to using Nostalgia Coffee Roasters as a tool for social justice, climate action, and exceptional coffee. It would seem at first glance that we are only in the coffee business, but we view ourselves more so as being in the people business. A thriving wage, thriving rate, and return of 5% of revenue to producers are tangible tools for change that will forever define Nostalgia.

Spiffy: Thanks again for speaking with me today, Taylor – it’s been an honor!

Taylor Fields is the founder and CEO of Nostalgia Coffee Roasters. She is a former CPA turned impact-driven business owner who is on a mission to make exceptional coffee for everyone. At the same time, she is working to make the coffee industry more inclusive, equitable, and diverse, as well as ensuring that its future leaders include LGBTQ people, BIPOC, and women. (Nominated by Lorenzo Thione at Gaingels. First published on the Ladderworks website on June 16, 2022.)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.