Coffee. Many entrepreneurs can’t get through a day – or even just a morning – without it. It’s a good thing for business owner Alberto Afanador that he is never short on coffee. As a matter of fact, being the Owner of Miko Coffee Curaçao, Afanador provides the entire Caribbean island with coffee, tea, coffee machines and beverage related products.
“We do more than just sell coffee, so instead of referring to Miko as a coffee company I prefer to use the term ‘coffee service company’. In addition to selling coffee, we offer coffee machines in different shapes and sizes, and our technical support team is always ready to assist our clients with all of their coffee needs. Of course we do sell coffee and related products, but that is just one part of our story,” Afanador explains.
Afanador started working in the Coffee sector by chance. “Three years ago I first came to Curaçao to work for a drink distribution company which at that moment represented our coffee brand. A couple of months after I first arrived on the island, the owners told me that they were going to sell all their activities. That’s when I decided I would buy their coffee activities and start working for myself. That was in August 2012.” We started with Miko Curaçao on the 1st of September 2012.
Miko Coffee strives to offer a full-service concept by not only providing the machines but also supplying the beans and related products. “Everyone can import a machine, import coffee, and sell it, but Miko offers more. For example, we organize barista training sessions for the food and service sector. Not only do we teach people how to make a good cup of coffee, we also teach them how to engage their customers allowing them to offer an experience rather than just coffee.”
Miko Coffee offers its coffee machines in different ways; we sell, lease and provide them free on loan. “This obviously depends on the depletion of our product by the customer. We reward customers who buy more by providing our complete service for free,” says Afanador.
When asked about his venture capital, Afanador says: “I have made good agreements with my suppliers. Just like me, they also want to grow in the Caribbean region. For us, growth means investing in machines. So if we can obtain good credit terms with the machine vendors and other suppliers, we can create growth in a healthy way without influencing our cash flow.”
Afanador became an entrepreneur roughly three years ago. We asked him if he thinks that people might underestimate entrepreneurship. “As long as you’re doing what you are passionate about, it’s all good. I work every day and I love it, so I don’t even really think of it as ‘work’ anymore. Of course, entrepreneurship is sometimes hard, but it it is also fun, liberating and rewarding as long as you truly enjoy what you are doing.”
Many business owners say they find it insuperable to mix their personal and professional lives. When asked about it, Afanador agreed. “Entrepreneurship is a very important part of my life. As an entrepreneur, you are always looking for ways to improve yourself and your business. Even when I’m relaxing on a sandy beach on our beautiful island, I often find myself thinking of different business opportunities.
We asked Afanador if people ever approach him for work related questions while he is enjoying his time off, for example on the beach. “No, I’m glad to say that this doesn’t happen often,” Afanador says laughing. “We are the only coffee service company on the island that offers service seven days a week. This requires us to plan everything very well with our technical staff. So even I can take some time off every once in a while. Being a business owner, you need to know how to plan well.”
Being an entrepreneur on a relatively small island like Curaçao could both be an advantage or a disadvantage. “Sometimes it’s a bit inconvenient but it mostly has advantages,” says Afanador. “For us it has been positive since people here are spreading positive messages about Miko Coffee, and it’s a well-known fact that word-of-mouth advertising is the best.”
Most of the time, it’s for the better, and occasionally for the worse, but entrepreneurship will change your life. “When I moved to Curaçao in 2012, I came here because I needed a new challenge. I had quit my job in The Netherlands, sublet my apartment in Rotterdam, gave my car to my brother, and I was not planning on moving back anytime soon. When the company who had hired me just months before informed me that they were going to quit, I had two options. I could either start applying for other jobs or I could start my own company.”
Afanador decided to go with that second option. “For me, it had always been a dream to become a business owner one day. I just didn’t necessarily plan to become an entrepreneur in the coffee sector. My biggest dream, actually, was to one day open a cocktail bar in Barcelona, Spain”, Afanador chuckles. “And as soon as I make my first million, I will certainly open one there…”