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My Career: From Start to Finnish

Pamela found a passion for ethical coffee and Finnish winters

Get to know more about Pamela via LinkedIn and Instagram.

Pamela Aranciaga Mauricio

Pamela Aranciaga Mauricio, Peru. CEO & Entrepreneur

The smell of freshly roasted coffee beans is almost a daily delight for Pamela Aranciaga Mauricio. Originally hailing from Peru, she moved to Finland a decade ago and runs an award-winning micro-roastery in Helsinki, Inka Paahtimo. Yet, her passion for food and ethical farming was ignited long before. 

Pamela’s European journey began in her teenage years when she relocated to Spain to study and join her older sister. A few years later, she moved to Denmark and discovered a keen interest in food science, culminating in a master’s degree in beer brewing. However, her academic path took an unexpected turn in the final year, when a planned brewery internship in Canada changed to one in Mexico’s dairy industry. This detour proved lucky, as it was where Pamela met the Finnish forestry student who later became her husband. The couple initially lived in Denmark but moved to Kotka, Finland, in 2014, following her partner’s job offer. 

It was there that coffee came into the picture. After living in Denmark, Pamela found adapting to Finnish life fairly easy, but the job market posed challenges. Taking matters into her own hands and after spending a summer in Peru volunteering at various coffee farms, she launched a small coffee roastery in Kouvola focused on supporting small farmers and ethical businesses. 

Today, the roastery is located in Helsinki, and Pamela has found a way to embrace Finnish winters. She has mastered cross-country skiing and learnt the Finnish language, making her story a blend of resilience and passion.

Pamela is proud of helping to cultivate a coffee culture in Kouvola, where she first started her company.

Inka paahtimo

I studied food science… because food has always been close to my heart. Growing up in Peru, I’d go to the market with my mum to buy fresh vegetables and fruit, cooking was a very important activity at home. Everything was homemade from zero.

Also, my grandparents and great-grandparents were potato farmers in the mountains, but they didn’t make enough money and had to move to Lima. I feel that pain because when they tell the story, it’s with sadness over abandoning our lands and culture. I wanted to ease that pain and make a difference. That’s how food science became my thing. 

Hands-on learning

Moving to Finland was… starting from zero again. I had to learn the language, and the job market was difficult even for Finns then. I looked for a job for three months, but most replies I got were that I was overqualified. 

I decided to create my work and knew it had to be something that is a passion for me since it’s a lot of work once you start. I wanted to tie together my roots in Peru, helping farmers and the fact that Finns love coffee. I also wanted to use my study background, so the answer had to be coffee.

I first took an entrepreneurial course and then wanted to do more research into the coffee industry. I spent a whole summer volunteering at different coffee farms in Peru, picking coffee cherries and cacao. This is how the farmers got even closer to my heart. I knew how hard they worked to make a living for their families. 

Cross-country skiing has become one of Pamela’s favourite winter hobbies.  

Pamela Aranciaga Mauricio

When I started the business, I was surprised… that most Finns didn’t know much about coffee. This was when I started nine years ago. Since then, coffee culture has changed a lot [in Finland], and many people are very knowledgeable today.

But back then, many people didn’t even know coffee is grown in Peru or what makes coffee high quality. It was hard to make people understand what I was doing and that there was a story behind the coffee and where it came from. Now, people know to ask about those things.

Since I live in the country where people drink the most coffee in the world, I hope that in the future, most consumers want their coffee to be sustainably produced and come from small farmers. That is my goal.

The biggest positive about being an entrepreneur in Finland is… being able to create a job that is meaningful for you. That can be very rare to find. And even though this is a small company, it also feels good to give work to others. 

One challenge for me at the start was planning. If I had planned better, some things may have been easier. I didn’t know many things [about the industry] then, but I learned on my own and made mistakes. 

In my area, there weren’t many organisations that supported new entrepreneurs. I did take that entrepreneurial course before I started the company, but it was challenging because it was in Finnish, so it was also a language crash course. 

Soon after I opened the roastery, my husband got a job in Helsinki. We moved to Helsinki, and I travelled to Kouvola almost every day. But that became too hard, and two years ago I decided to move the roastery to Helsinki. I wanted to improve my quality of life and spend more time with my family. 

Most of Pamela’s coffee comes from Peru, but she also has partners elsewhere in South America, Central America and Africa, especially Ethiopia.

Pamela Aranciaga Mauricio

Support for female farmers

When I moved to Helsinki… I started networking with Conscious Entrepreneurs and other organisations, which opened many doors. I found a community here and there are a lot of international people like me. Also, Finnish people have been very supportive of me.  

I’ve also done one or two mentoring programmes here, the last one being a Federation of Finnish Enterprises’ mentoring programme called She’s Got It. That really helped me a lot. I’m happy that these programmes and services are available.

The Finnish working life… is quite relaxed, there is no strict hierarchy. When I’ve hired people, I’ve noticed I don’t have this pressure because we can easily talk about the tasks and work. There is no “I’m meeting with my boss” type of stress.

My advice to anyone considering starting a company in Finland… is to plan to the last detail. Not only the business plan but all parts of the business, such as the website and all the marketing materials. All those things took me a long time to do.

Also, networking is really, really important here. It can be a good idea to collaborate with another company at the start. That is a way to learn the market when you are new to it. 

I love cross-country skiing… it was part of my cultural integration programme. For many winters, I wondered what people do this time of year if they aren’t reading or drawing. Then I saw kids skiing and skating in their winter overalls and wanted to do the same things. 

I haven’t succeeded in skating yet, but somehow, I felt this balance the first time I put on skis. I felt like dancing, and I thought I could do this. I don’t like the speed and slopes too much, but I really enjoy skiing otherwise and do it three times a week in winter.

“Food has always been close to my heart. Growing up in Peru, I’d go to the market with my mum to buy fresh vegetables and fruit, cooking was a very important activity. Everything was homemade from zero,” Pamela reminisces.

Inka paahtimo

I like sports in general. Swimming has become my thing, and I do it at seven in the morning because I love it. I need to start my day with exercise since my job is very physical. 

I’ve also been painting and sewing to repair my own clothes. There are many hobbies and evening courses, and I like that. They are also a way to practice the language since all the courses are in Finnish. 

It was important to me to learn Finnishsince I live here. My clients are Finnish, and they feel different when I speak Finnish to them. Of course, they notice it isn’t perfect, but they know the language is hard. 

I don’t feel uncomfortable [speaking it], I actually love the language. The intonation is somehow poetic to me.

My favourite Finnish words are… sisu, rakkaus (‘love’) and ystävät (‘friends’). And jäkälä (‘lichen’), the stuff that reindeers eat.

I’d like to continue supporting female coffee farmers… and I hope that all my coffee will eventually come from female founders or farms that support environmental or social projects. A lot of coffee is grown by women, but they stay in the background and don’t take the credit. I know this from visiting many coffee farms and seeing who actually does the work, thinking and planning. 

I really enjoy living in Helsinki… because there is a sense of community there and a lot of activities and hobbies. Although there was nice scenery in Kotka, I feel very close to nature here as well.

Published on 19.06.2024