Green Coffee Co. percolates on $25M to expand in Colombia, launch alcoholic beverages

The Green Coffee Company, which touts itself as “Colombia’s largest coffee producer,” closed on $25 million in Series C equity funding.

Coffee is big business, with the global market valued at an estimated $493 billion. In addition to legacy producers you see in the coffee aisle, smaller operations have brewed up in recent years. Most recently, I reported on Chamberlain Coffee raising venture capital, which joins companies, like Fellow and Blank Street, not to mention lots of celebrity coffee brands. There are even companies, including Compound Foods and Atomo, making coffee without traditional beans.

Green Coffee Co. was founded in 2017 by Cole Shephard and is a consolidated arabica coffee farming company, headquartered in the U.S., with operations in Colombia that span 9,000 acres across 39 farms. It also has over 11.5 million coffee trees under ownership, which Shephard said makes the company more than two times larger than any other coffee producer in the country.

“We started off as an asset management product, but in two years, we were running the company,” Shephard said. “It’s a massive opportunity to grow a business in an international manner from Colombia, and no one was really doing it. Others lacked human capital or economic capital, while no one was really investing in the sector.”

Having amassed a large operation, the company controls the supply chain from cultivation to processing to direct trade with end-clients, he said. Its technology includes sophisticated processing machinery in its wet mills that recycles water so it takes 0.3 liters of water per pound of green coffee compared to the 20 liters per pound it traditionally takes, Shephard said.

Last year, Green Coffee Co. saw $10 million in revenue, up from $1 million the year prior, according to Shephard. He expects that to grow to $27 million in the next year.

Green Coffee Co. is a portfolio company of Latin American investment firm Legacy Group, where Shephard is also a partner. Green Coffee Co. raises its funding, including the Series C, from a network of over 450 individual, high-net-worth investors that invest directly into portfolio companies that Legacy Group advises rather than into a pooled fund, Shephard told TechCrunch. In total, investors have injected over $60 million into the business.

Shephard noted that the company raises in this manner because “the team at Legacy has always felt strongly about offering unique and exciting deals that provide individual investors the ability to directly invest in companies that they like rather than into a blind or diversified fund model over which they have little control or in which they hand over decision-making to large funds and institutions who provide little personalized attention.”

Proceeds from the funding round will expand the company’s Colombian farming operations, accelerate its U.S.-based coffee roasting operations in Houston over the next year and enable the company to launch a line of liquors and spirits distilled from the coffee byproducts, which includes coffee cherries and other coffee “waste.” The company is currently seeking $65 million of institutional debt capital to execute on those expansion plans.

Meanwhile, Shephard expects Green Coffee Co. to “become the world’s largest producer of arabica coffee in the next two years.” In addition, he is eyeing a 2026 U.S. IPO exit.

“We’re building a large-scale distillery in Colombia to create our own pure ethanol, and using a quarter of our byproducts, we can produce around 5 million to 6 million bottles of vodka a year,” Shephard said.

Editor’s note, June 8, 9:21 a.m. PT, updated the number of farms.