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From Barista to Business Owner: Tres Marias Coffee Company Founder Maria Pavani "One of the most significant life lessons I've learned along the way is the importance of recognizing and seizing opportunities for growth, both in business and in life."

By Tamara Pupic

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Maria Pavani
Maria Pavani is the founder of the Dubai-based Tres Marias Coffee Company.

Maria Pavani founded her specialty coffee startup Tres Marias Coffee Company in Dubai in 2019 after noticing many cultural similarities between the UAE and her native Brazil, especially with respect to the two nations' love of hosting family and friends over a cup of good quality coffee. "No matter where you are, both Brazil and the UAE share this awesome appreciation for hospitality and building strong relationships," she says."Whether you're in Rio or Dubai, you'll find people love to host guests with warmth, and make them feel at home."

Besides crafting coffee solutions for both businesses (B2B) and consumers (B2C), Tres Marias Coffee Company is also the exclusive supplier of plant-based milk to all 150 branches of Costa Coffee in the UAE, while from June onwards, it will extend its reach by supplying plant-based milk to all Costa Coffee locations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well. It is also the exclusive plant-based milk supplier for the private aviation brand JetEx; plus, its products are available to the general public at Al Maya supermarkets across the UAE. "We achieved a million-dollar-revenue milestone in 2022," Pavani reveals. "Since then, our goal has been to maintain a steady growth rate of 50% per year. While I consider this goal to be somewhat conservative, it's important to note that we are self-funded, which imposes certain limitations on our expansion efforts."

Since moving to Dubai in 2013, Pavani has had quite a varied career path, which runs the gamut from serving tables at the Conrad Dubai hotel, to becoming a barista, to then managing coffee shops, and finally to launching a business. And while one might assume the last segment of her journey might have been the most difficult, Pavani says that starting Tres Marias Coffee in the UAE wasn't as challenging as one might expect. "While there were hurdles along the way, particularly for a first-time entrepreneur like myself, they were valuable learning experiences," she says. "In my view, the true test wasn't the launch itself, but the ongoing juggle of growing the business, while ensuring it stays on the right trajectory, all while working within our financial constraints."

Pavani finds the UAE to be a fertile ground for her entrepreneurial dreams in the specialty coffee sector, because of the similarities between how people in her homeland Brazil and the UAE enjoy their coffee. "Growing up in Brazil, my mornings were filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, a ritual my grandmother faithfully performed using a cloth filter," she explains. "It's ingrained in Brazilian households to always have a pot of coffee ready. In the UAE, a similar cultural reverence for coffee exists, particularly with the 'dallah' tradition. While Brazil has seen significant growth in specialty coffee houses over the past decade, the culture of consuming coffee outside the home is deeply entrenched in the UAE. Coffee shops serve as popular meeting spots where people gather to socialize, work, and enjoy a cup of coffee together."


Maria Pavani founded her specialty coffee startup Tres Marias Coffee Company in Dubai in 2019. Source: Maria Pavani

This is why Pavani hopes that Tres Marias Coffee Company will enjoy more aggressive growth across the UAE and the GCC in 2024. "Firstly, we will be prioritizing the stabilization of our plant-based milk offerings in the Middle East market," she says. "Secondly, we will focus on consolidating the new structure of our business, which underwent significant restructuring in the previous year, and lastly, we aim to identify innovative offerings that resonate with our target audience, while expanding our presence in existing markets, and exploring potential entry into new territories." Here, Pavani says that she considers the growth of her business to be deeply intertwined with her own personal development. "One of the most significant life lessons I've learned along the way is the importance of recognizing and seizing opportunities for growth, both in business and in life," Pavani says. "Undoubtedly, embracing this journey of personal reinvention has required sacrifices and compromises. However, each instance of transformation has brought me closer to realizing my full potential, both as an entrepreneur, and as an individual."

TIME FOR A CHANGE? THE HOW-TO (ACCORDING TO MARIA PAVANI)

Invest in self-development "Work on yourself. Focus on intangible aspects. Sometimes in business, you become preoccupied with numbers and growth, forgetting that you must always work on personal development. Understanding who you are, who you are not, and how you choose to live your life is essential in the long run. This self-awareness will help you avoid tricky situations as you grow."

Seek mentorship "Find people who have experience, and learn from them. In business, many will offer advice without having firsthand experience. Sticking to your vision, and seeking guidance from those who have walked in your shoes, is crucial. Make them your mentors, and learn as much as possible from their experiences."

Cultivate self-belief and resilience "Believe in yourself. Our limitations exist in our minds. So, believe in yourself, and find ways to achieve your goals. Nothing is impossible as long as you're willing to make it happen."

Related: Breaking Boundaries: How D14.AI Founder Melda Akin Turned A Dream Into Reality

Tamara Pupic

Entrepreneur Staff

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.

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