By Grace Kramer
Alyza Bohbot’s family owned and operated Alakef Coffee Roasters for 25 years. When her parents retired last January, Bohbot took over and decided it was time to put a new spin on the roasting company.
In her attempt to revamp the quarter-century-old family business, Bohbot created City Girl Coffee.
“The coffee industry in the Twin Cities market is drastically different than it was 25 years ago,” Bohbot said. “We needed to do something different; we needed to reinvent ourselves.” The company focuses on sourcing its coffee from women producers and women-owned farms that receive a portion of profits.
“Having a background in counseling, helping people and doing good is something very near and dear to my heart,” Bohbot said. “I felt this product gave us an opportunity to focus on an area that wasn’t being focused on in the Twin Cities market.”
The company launches in the Twin Cities on Thursday, where it will team up with Bright Pink, a breast cancer awareness organization.
With the launch, City Girl Coffee hopes to introduce the coffee to the Twin Cities area and tell its backstory.
“It is a higher price point, but it’s really important for me and my sales team to communicate our message to consumers,” Bohbot said. “When you hear the story and understand what we’re trying to do, it’s a product people can really get behind.”
Some co-ops in the Twin Cities area, such as Lakewinds Food Co-op, already sell City Girl Coffee. With companies like City Girl Coffee, Lakewinds makes sure the product meets their standards before it is sold in stores.
“A big piece is getting the ingredients and doing a lot of behind-the-scenes research on what they’re using to make sure it’s the highest quality products that we can get,” Lakewinds’ senior purchasing manager, Shawna Anderson, said
Lakewinds considers the sociopolitical leanings of companies they carry. “Sometimes if we’re looking at two similar products, if one goes beyond just processing the product and they do community work or it’s fair trade or they’re doing something beyond that, it definitely plays a huge role in our decision process,” Anderson said.
When starting City Girl Coffee, Bohbot reached out to coffee importers she already knew through family connections. “It is important to us to have really high quality as well as traceability and accountability of where it’s coming from, so I really pushed back on my importers initially,” Bohbot said.
Bohbot explained her brand and her vision to her importers, then asked for samples and information from women-owned and women-operated coffee farms. “There’s still an inequality issue in these countries of origin,” Bohbot said. “It is hard to source women-owned coffee that you know is actually coming from women on the farm [and] that also have decision making power.”
From there, groups such as the International Women’s Coffee Alliance and Cafe Femenino helped to make sure a cut of her profits were sent to women in the coffee industry.
The next step for Bohbot is to make connections with the women responsible for the coffee.
“My hope is that as I continue to become more involved in this organization it will give me the opportunity to meet these women and go to their farms and build a relationship for myself,” Bohbot said.
For now, the company just wants to get across its main idea.
“We’re not just a company with cute colors and a chic look,” Bohbot said. “We’re a responsible and sustainable company trying to bring awareness to gender equality of the women of the coffee world.”