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Coffee Stories

María Lucía Restrepo

By 17th April 2024No Comments4 min read

Hailing from the luscious landscapes of Colombia, María Lucía Restrepo considers herself a newbie in the coffee industry, learning along the way and changing lives one ping-pong paddle at a time. We caught up with Maria at Shanghai Hotelex, and listened to her story, to get an insight into the humanitarian work she’s doing at Fundacion Federico.

María Lucía Restrepo at Shanghai Hotelex

María Lucía Restrepo at Shanghai Hotelex

María Lucía Restrepo at Shanghai Hotelex may never have stepped into the coffee industry if she never met Vera Li (Cafe Elements). As we previously mentioned, Cafe Elements brings South American coffee to China through partnership and learning, which was one of Maria’s reasons for attending the Shanghai Hotelex event, as one of their Colombian Partners. Thanks to this partnership, Maria found a new appreciation for the Colombian Coffee culture and since it aligned with the goals of her foundation, she knew it was the right decision.


Fundacion Federico started to preserve the memory of Maria’s brother, who passed away nine years ago. She named the foundation after him, and all its operations are a form of “duelo” for the family to express the loss and appreciate the life their brother and son lived through social projects. Focusing on two main purposes, Fundacion Federico touches lives and makes lasting impacts on generations and families.

María Lucía Restrepo and Cafe Elements at Shanghai Hotelex

María Lucía Restrepo and Cafe Elements at Shanghai Hotelex

Firstly, they encourage Colombian youths to actively engage in sporting activities, with a special focus on ping-pong (table tennis). By building tables in parks, visiting schools, and organizing festivals and competitions, the foundation seeks to nurture interested individuals to play professionally and possibly build a life from the sport.

Secondly, they advocate for an appreciation and protection of the environment in multiple ways. Maria believes that people need to be conscious of their environment and preserve this valuable ecosystem.

“We care about native trees, so we encourage people to get to know what a native tree is, to get the seeds, to make it germinate, and to plant it again in the places that we think they need the most to recover the ecosystem, to get back the water flows, and all the other things that we need to survive as humans.”

This relentless need to improve the environment combines with Maria’s reasons to work with Cafe Elements, as she can show off Fundacion Federico’s latest Santander blend of three varieties. The foundation sells some of its products to generate income and remain a self-sustaining business.

Fundacion Federico serves as the bridge between people willing to help and people who need help through sports or environmental action. They do not simply ask around for donations; they perform environmental and social services for people and companies and then receive money from them. But their most special project is the trees they plant on behalf of people for special occasions.

Anyone wishing to plant endemic trees called Ceiba pentandra (Ceiba barrigona) can choose to plant them to preserve the memory of loved ones that they lost. These trees grow only in some specific places, and they will always be referred to by the loved one being remembered by them.

“So you can buy a tree from the foundation, and we give you a card with the tree with the name, then you will also have this tree in that mountain in Colombia, and we send the picture of the tree for you.”

Another is the celebration mountain, where trees are planted to celebrate. These celebrations could be births, anniversaries, or more. This falls in line with their goals as a foundation, planting native trees and making people appreciate them even more.

Oluwatobifunmi Olaniran

Take a bow! You got to this section! I'm an author at I'M NOT A BARISTA, a Creative Writer and Electrical Engineer from Nigeria. "I laugh in the face of danger." -Simba