Ervin Liz graduated from the IB Diploma Programme (DP) at the United World College (UWC) Red Cross Nordic, Norway. He continued his studies in economics at Luther College in Iowa, USA. Today, he is the co-founder of Colombian Coffee Connection LLC (CCC). Through direct ethical trade, his company brings fresh, organic specialty coffee grown by Nasa indigenous farmers in Colombia to the USA.
Why did you initially decide to pursue an IB diploma?
I decided to pursue an IB diploma while attending the United World College (UWC) Red Cross Nordic in Norway. The IB curriculum along with the UWC programme challenged me in ways I had not experienced previously. The program helped me develop my creativity, open-mindedness, and mindset for experimentation, and exploration. I have brought these skills with me to college and life where they have given me a competitive edge in different areas such as creative writing, marketing and doing business.
“Daniel was my development studies (DP geography) teacher, and his words are what inspired me to create a company based on the values of fairness, excellence and giving back.”
Which of your IB teachers inspired you most?
All of my teachers were incredible human beings and inspired me in different ways. Daniel Toa-Kwapong, however, once said that it is our responsibility to give as much as we have received. Daniel was my development studies (DP geography) teacher, and his words are what inspired me to create a company based on the values of fairness, excellence and giving back. I also learned about the idea of competitive advantage in the development studies classes, and I use this knowledge in my business today to develop and deliver our unique value proposition.
How did you reach where you are today?
I am the co-founder and part owner of the Colombian Coffee Connection LLC (CCC). We are a specialty coffee importer and roasting company based in Hutchinson MN, US. Currently, we also sell coffee in Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. My business partner Jon Baklund and I founded CCC back in 2017 with the goal of bringing the freshest, organic specialty coffee grown by Nasa indigenous farmers in Colombia to the US. Aside from putting a great emphasis on quality we also focus on direct ethical trade and giving back to the community.
“What matters, in my opinion, is that you do things with love, care, and compassion.”
Direct ethical trade means buying directly from the farmers and paying them as much as 200% more for their harvest than the market prices. Giving back means donating 10% of our profits to fund humanitarian projects focused on indigenous elders in the farming community, through our Coffee With Heart initiative. So far we have completed two house projects through Coffee With Heart.
My conclusions so far are that you can make a difference in many ways and at different scales. If you want to help people through projects of massive scale that is fantastic. If you're going to help your neighbor or the people in your town or city, that is great too! What matters, in my opinion, is that you do things with love, care, and compassion.