Tico Coffee Roasters CEO growing an environmental legacy


For countless Bay Area residents, a cup of coffee is an essential part of their day — that steaming wake-up jolt in the morning or a refreshing cold brew during an afternoon break. It means even more to Mariana Faerron, who grew up in Costa Rica surrounded by plantations where the aroma of coffee — from flower to berry — filled her early life.
She’s now the CEO of Tico Coffee Roasters in Campbell, the company that she and her husband, Thomas Goepel, founded 11 years ago. So while she’s got a vested interest in your morning cup of joe, she also has a deeper understanding than most people about the effort that goes into every cup.
“I think even though we are surrounded by agriculture in California, I think there’s still some detachment for people who don’t necessarily understand how long it takes to produce something of value and high quality,” said Faerron, who has a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Costa Rica.
Her focus on sustainable and organic products as well as pushing for better outcomes for coffee farmers earned her the environmentalist of the year award from the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters at its 30th annual awards celebration and fundraiser Thursday night in downtown San Jose.
“It means a lot to me because that tells me that our work with Tico Coffee Roasters is seen and valued,” Faerron said. “It created the type of impact and awareness that we aim for and I hope that this will bring more people and partners onboard to preserve the environment.”
She and Goepel met in Costa Rica and fell in love — helped by their mutual love for coffee — and moved to the Bay Area where he works as an engineer. Faerron wasn’t thrilled with her coffee choices and often brought back bags of coffee berries from trips to Costa Rica but couldn’t get anyone to roast them. So the couple decided to do it on their own — but to do it their own way.
“While there are many coffee choices in the market, not everyone is sourcing their beans consciously and not everyone has the knowledge to provide feedback and work with farmers developing better environmental practices,” she said. Knowing it’s a field dominated by men, she keeps her eye out for women who are managing their own coffee-growing businesses when she travels to other countries on a buying trip.
“As a woman, Latina and immigrant I am also committed to support, empower and highlight other women and their endeavors as a professional and entrepreneur,” she said. That empowerment can have a strong ripple effect, allowing families to gain more income through coffee production and send their children to school where they can become future leaders in the industry.
Tico Coffee Roasters doesn’t have coffee shops but distributes its coffees and loose-leaf teas through restaurants and specialty stores as well as serving coffee drinks through a catering service and a mobile cart. They host coffee-tasting and education events at the roastery on Dell Avenue and also bring that experience to Silicon Valley companies.
About six years ago, she learned about Veggielution, the community farm in East San Jose, and she began volunteering to provide coffee for its First Saturday events and later for its annual fEAST fundraier. Today, she’s co-chair of Veggielution’s board of directors and says the more she gets involved with the organization, the more she loves what its mission means for the community.
Veggielution Executive Director Cayce Hill said Faerron helped steward the nonprofit through the pandemic and along a pathway of transformative growth and impact since becoming involved.
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But the heart of Faerron’s work still revolves around coffee — from African coffees with berry-like flavors to darker roasts with hints of sweet chocolate. She’s especially proud of the Cafe de Olla that Tico has created, blending their coffee with brown organic sugar and spices, taking the complications of making the traditional coffee out of the equation for novices.
And while Faerron enjoys a variety of coffees, she says she tends to favor medium roasts, along with traditional Costa Rican biscuits. Acknowledging the big perk of being the boss at a coffee roasting company, she said, “I have the luxury of choosing what I want to drink.”


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