A Manhattan Beach roaster puts people before profit with their socially responsible Brazilian beans

The buzz on Beantween Coffee

The aroma of black coffee wafted inside the roasters as Beantween cofounder Lilian Alves brewed pourover coffee from her hand-harvested, single-origin Brazilian roast for me to have a behind-the-scenes taste. Before drinking the medium and dark roast coffees, I took a deep inhale of the sweet, dark-chocolate, nutty and fruity characteristics of the roasted beans.

The fair trade beans are imported from Barinas Farm in Brazil. The Rainforest Alliance-certified farm helps preserve the environment and the rights of their growers and pickers.

“They have breakfast and lunch for their employees every day,” Lilian shares in between sips. “From time to time they also invite the city to educate the farmers on health, hygiene and social responsibilities.”

Beantween’s medium and dark roast beans are single-origin from here, while their decaf is from small Brazilian farms. “It’s decaffeinated through Swiss Water Process,” shares Lilian of the 100% chemical-free process that’s good for the environment and yields a 99.9% caffeine-free coffee.

Lilian’s concept when creating the brand was to only work with specialty coffee where there’s no slavery and where the growers care about others and what they’re doing. Helping others is imbedded in her nature. In Brazil she grew up giving through her religion. “I was raised by parents who worked in the medical field and passed their legacy of helping others to me,” she explains.

When she co-founded Beantween with her husband, Rodney Alves, she asked herself, “How can I give back to my community through the business?” Not only do they donate copious amounts of coffee to various organizations and functions, but a percentage of their online sales benefits different nonprofit organizations.

With every online purchase of Beantween coffee, 10% of proceeds goes to an organization of the purchaser’s choice. Customers can either register a nonprofit of their choice or select from a list of nonprofit organizations.

“I was raised by parents who worked in the medical field and passed their legacy of helping others to me.”

Lilian has collaborated with USA Olympic gold medalist and South Bay resident Kerri Walsh by donating coffee to her company, p1440, which puts on events for athletes to help them grow professionally and personally. Providing coffee samples for these events allows athletes the opportunity to purchase Beantween and choose a nonprofit organization to benefit.

Lilian has also collaborated with Brazilian fashion designer Fabiana Milazzo to benefit her project Income for Women, which aims to take care of women who work in her clothing factory in Brazil—and their children—by providing embroidery courses for the moms and educational activities for the kids.

Before creating Beantween, which gets its name from a play on the word “between,” Lilian was trading beans from Brazil to roasting facilities in the U.S. Now they only import beans from Brazil for their own brand and sell in specialty stores throughout the South Bay including Boccato’s Groceries, Hi Brazil Market and Brasil Mania. The beans can also be spotted inside the small marketplace of Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine, Panelas Brazil Cuisine, Silvio’s Brazilian BBQ and Samba Brazilian Steakhouse.

Lilian’s focus is specialty markets that care about sustainability and fair trade business. “I’m not going to sacrifice my work and [the farmer’s] work for corporations to have money in their pockets.”

The family-owned business enlists the help of Lilian’s college-aged kids, Giovanna and Leonardo. “They help with everything from marketing to emails. Being a foreigner you need some extra help,” she says in her soft voice with a smile.

Lilian’s brother Paul Marcondes is CFO, and her lawyer husband handles all of the legal work. In 2003 Rodney’s acceptance into UCLA School of Law is what prompted their move from Brazil to California.

In the future Leonardo hopes to expand the family business by opening coffee shops after he graduates. For now Lilian’s goals are to expand organically to more specialty stores, coffee shops, restaurants and online.