10 Minutes with Flowins’ Danielle Fonseca

We talk to Danielle to explore the journey of Flowins, a pioneering startup that seeks to empower coffee producers and foster a more equitable coffee supply chain.

BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT

Photos courtesy of Flowins

In the heart of Brazil’s coffee-producing region, a team of passionate individuals is revolutionizing the industry from within. Known as Flowins, this innovative startup is on a mission to transform the way coffee is sourced, produced, and consumed.

Drawing inspiration from personal experiences in coffee-producing families, Flowins is tackling long-standing challenges in the sector with a blend of technology, sustainability, and transparency. In this exclusive interview, Danielle Fonseca, co-founder & COO of Flowins, shares insights into the founding of Flowins, its commitment to sustainability, the impact of its SuperApp on coffee producers, and its vision for the future of the coffee industry.

Four people gathered for a photo in front of drying beds.
Flowins team members (left to right): Iago Junqueira (CEO), Danielle Fonseca (VP), Priscila Fonseca (CQO), and Adrian Griffin (CDO).

Barista Magazine: Danielle, could you share the inspiration behind founding Flowins, and how your personal experiences in coffee-producing families motivated you to address the challenges in the sector?

Danielle Fonseca: Absolutely. Flowins was born out of our firsthand experiences growing up in coffee-producing families in the South of Minas, Brazil. Our team, hailing from coffee-producing families in Brazil’s South of Minas region, identified common challenges faced by producers, such as a lack of insight into their year-round production quality, and reliance on intermediaries who prioritize profit over support. In response to industry shifts in 2018 toward quality-driven approaches, myself, Iago Junqueira, and Guilherme Diniz collaborated to develop management software. This software empowers producers with real-time access to their farm data, including quality metrics, and provides instant quality reports via the Flowins app. Building on this, Flowins initiated the NOCA project. This project established an online marketplace, enabling buyers to browse a catalog of coffees and request samples directly from producers. This streamlined process fosters direct sales, ensuring traceability and empowering producers throughout the supply chain.

Flowins aims to enhance sustainability and environmentally friendly practices in coffee production. Can you elaborate on the specific ways in which your startup achieves these goals and contributes to a more eco-friendly coffee industry?

Certainly! Our approach to enhancing sustainability in coffee production involves several key strategies. We prioritize sourcing coffee beans from producers who employ sustainable agricultural practices, pay fair prices to ensure economic sustainability, and invest in reducing the carbon footprint associated with coffee production and distribution. Additionally, we implement waste reduction and recycling initiatives, educate consumers about the environmental impact of coffee production, and invest in research and development to identify innovative solutions for sustainable farming practices.

Aerial view of a pond surrounded by trees.
Located in Santana da Vargem, Minas Gerais, Flowins supports coffee producers across Brazil to use more efficient and sustainable crop management practices.

Could you tell us a bit about SuperApp? How does it empower farmers to improve quality, traceability, and good practices in their coffee production?

SuperApp is basically a tool we developed that provides producers with a comprehensive toolset to monitor quality metrics, track their coffee beans from farm to cup, access resources on good agricultural practices, make data-driven decisions, optimize the supply chain, and continuously improve their operations. By leveraging technology and data, producers can enhance the quality, traceability, and sustainability of their coffee-production processes, ultimately delivering higher-quality products to the market.

Flowins provides access to a quality lab with a professional Q Grader team. How does this feature benefit coffee producers, and what role does it play in ensuring high-quality coffee?

We always knew that access to a quality lab with a professional Q Grader team allows coffee producers to obtain objective assessments of their coffee beans, identify defects, ensure quality assurance, benchmark their coffee against industry standards, and differentiate their products in the market. By leveraging the expertise of the Q Grader team, producers can maintain consistent quality, build trust with consumers, and establish a reputation for excellence in the industry.

Two women looking at coffee trees, one in a Flowins t shirt.
Danielle manages the farm that belonged to her grandparents and which today is the Flowins experimental farm, a place where they put into practice everything they share with the producers as a way to connect with them.

How does the platform enable producers to have direct access to purchasing markets, eliminating intermediaries, and ensuring transparency in the coffee supply chain?

Flowins facilitates transparency in the coffee supply chain by providing producers with direct access to purchasing markets, eliminating intermediaries, promoting transparent pricing, providing traceability and documentation, and encouraging feedback and ratings. By empowering producers to connect directly with buyers and showcase their products transparently, we help foster trust, accountability, and sustainability in the coffee industry.

Can you share success stories or notable examples where Flowins has made a significant positive impact on a coffee producer’s operations or the overall coffee community?

We’ve seen numerous success stories where Flowins has helped coffee producers improve market access, enhance transparency and trust, adopt sustainable practices, and achieve economic empowerment. For example, small-scale producers have gained direct access to global buyers, resulting in increased sales and revenue, while others have successfully transitioned to regenerative farming methods, leading to improved soil health and higher-quality coffee beans.

A group gathered at a coffee farm.
Flowins envisions continued evolution, focusing on sustainability, impact, and community building in the coffee industry.

In the process of developing Flowins, what were the most significant challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them to create a successful platform for coffee producers?

Some of the most significant challenges we faced included understanding the complexities of the coffee industry, developing robust technology solutions, building trust and credibility, ensuring regulatory compliance, and driving user adoption and engagement. To overcome these challenges, we conducted extensive market research, recruited a talented team, collaborated with stakeholders, adhered to regulations, and iterated on the platform based on user feedback.

Looking ahead, what are Flowins’ future plans and goals in contributing to the evolution of the coffee industry, and how do you envision the platform evolving in the coming years?

We’re really excited about the journey ahead for Flowins. We’ve got big plans to reach new corners of the market, embracing the latest tech to keep things cutting-edge. We also plan to enhance data analytics and insights, focus on sustainability and impact, diversify services, and foster community building and collaboration. By staying responsive to user needs and industry trends, we aim to continue driving positive change in the coffee industry and empower producers to thrive in a sustainable and transparent marketplace.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work.

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Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.