Victoria Poon is the founder & CEO of Alpaca Coffee, a plastic-free coffee company on the mission to make it easier for everyone to have seriously good coffee, and at the same reduce their plastic consumption.
Victoria holds the passionate belief that business, education, innovation, and food & drink can create important social change.
Where did the idea for Alpaca Coffee come from?
Alpaca Coffee was born from my travels to South America, namely Bolivia!
I met an American couple in Cochabamba who had opened a speciality coffee shop. I got talking to them and the idea to bring amazing coffee from the continent to the UK stuck.
After beginning to pursue the idea, I realised that there were not many options on the market for quality coffee in plastic-free packaging. That realisation ultimately led Alpaca Coffee to be what it is today.
Our mission is simple, to make it easier for everyone to have seriously good coffee, and reduce their plastic consumption at the same time!
We're now striving to be one of the most sustainable coffee companies in the UK, not only through offering plastic-free packaging but also by working with ethically sourced, delicious coffees that will become a staple across UK households.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive, keep yourself busy?
A typical day always starts with a glass of warm water, meditation, and then exercise (yoga or running). Usually followed by a cold shower, coffee (of course), and a small breakfast.
Because I spend most of my time staring at a laptop screen, I do find starting my day off this way ensures I have some sort of balance. In fact, it is extremely important.
In terms of keeping busy, running a company is a sure way to keep a person busy! Since Alpaca is still so young, I've found I do a bit of everything, from marketing and social media to logistics and operations.
I do have my well-needed, lazy rest days as well.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
I'm a huge fan of cold showers in the morning. It's a great way to improve alertness, productivity and helps level out mood and stress levels.
For me, the key to productivity is starting the day off right.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Haha! Well, I'm not going to claim to be a wise sage because I am only 26 and still have a lot to learn!
But if I were to give my younger self advice, it would be: trust the process and love yourself. By trusting the process, you let go of how you think life is supposed to be. You actually enjoy it more, because life never turns out the way we expect it to.
By loving yourself, you accept yourself and build a solid foundation to do the things that'll help turn you into the person you strive to become.
Fill your cup first so you can fill those of others.
What is the one thing you do over and over again and recommend everyone else do?
I'd have to say checking in with myself and being self-aware. If there is one person we spend our entire lives with, it's ourselves.
I've noticed how important it is to notice what we're feeling and why, and noticing how we interact with others and the world.
If I find myself overthinking or feeling anxious; checking in, practising self-love, and spending time to focus on myself are tools I'll carry with me for the rest of my life. I recommend them to everyone.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
There have been two strategies that have helped us grow Alpaca so far.
First is building up social media via meaningful interactions and staying authentic. For example, chatting, connecting with people, and sharing your product. People remember how you made them feel above all else, and when they remember that they will take that with them and spread the word.
Second is that although a startup is all about constantly iterating and discovering what the correct business model is, having focus at the beginning, understanding your core product and your customers, and what distribution channels it should move through are vital.
Building a business is kind of like building a house. You have to lay down solid foundations for sustainable growth or solid pivoting.
What's one trend in the F&B industry that excites you?
It would definitely be the rise of more eco-friendly and sustainable F&B products on the market. However, I don't really see this as a trend but more of a new direction.
I do think consumers are now way more informed than they were 10 years ago. Because of that, they are demanding better from businesses.
We've become so much more aware of the environmental and social impact of businesses that simply operate for profit, that we now demand them to also have a social purpose.
It is amazing to see so many innovative products out there challenging the status quo, like plant-based meats and circular products.
The next step is making those products more accessible because sustainability is still a luxury in which not everyone can buy into.
What is the best £20 you recently spent? What and why?
The most boring, but honest, answer is fixing my phone.
I'm very clumsy and tend to break things, and I need my phone to work so I can work!
What is your favourite quote?
"Your greatness is not what you have, it's what you give."
I found this on my Yogi Tea a while back.
What are some of your favourite places to eat at?
I love dim sum because I grew up in Hong Kong eating that.
I usually go to the Golden Dragon in London's Chinatown with my family. That is our go-to dim sum spot.
I'm also half-Polish, so I love pierogis and the array of deliciously comforting foods from my mum's kitchen. Mamuśka in London is a good place to go if you want to try Polish food.
What's the best thing to order from Alpaca Coffee?
Our Taster Pack!
I highly recommend this as it's a fun way to try three different single-origin coffees. You get to discover the different coffee tasting notes that different countries in South America have to offer.
Are there any exciting plans coming from Alpaca Coffee soon?
Absolutely! Next month we are revamping our product range, improving the quality of our coffee and our packaging to give our customers a much better experience.
We're also scaling up our capacity to work with retailers who want to stock our coffee! Our talented team consists of our Head of Coffee, Mo Rashid, and our Head of Sales, Victor Cotillon.
We're all working hard to really level up Alpaca. The upcoming weeks are going to be really exciting for us.