Rémy Telfils and Café Lux Reimagining the Coffee Industry in Haiti
Updated: Mar 19
Rémy Telfils is a highly motivated entrepreneur whose goal is to produce a premium coffee in Haiti’s southeast region. When launching Café Lux, Telfils’ commitment was to create a socially responsible enterprise whose goal is to produce quality coffee and to create lasting relationships with producers. The company’s slogan which translates to ‘every time you drink a cup of coffee you contribute in sending a farm laborer’s child to school’ substantiates Telfils’ dedication in the company’s social mission to eradicate illiteracy, poverty and environmental protection. It therefore is not surprising that Café Lux is a family affair.
Photos provided by Rémy Telfils
Café Lux, Haiti’s Black Gold, produces roasted ground coffee, green coffee, seedlings and coffee seeds. Rich in aroma and low acidity, Café Lux offers a high balance of flavor. “Café Lux is the perfect cup of anytime coffee,” said Telfils.
CE: Though you had experience, and family history in agriculture and the coffee business were you nervous at all about actually venturing out and starting your own business?
RT: Entrepreneurial life is not always easy, so it is imperative always to be motivated and determined to succeed. I was born into a family where the primary source of income was coffee. After several years spent in the coffee sector, I ended up falling in love with this sector. Hence the creation of Telfils Café Lux. I knew that undertaking an idea to set up a business was no small task. So I was prepared for any eventuality. It was challenging at first, but with my family and friends who are still there for the company, we excelled in the local, national, and international markets.
CE: In what year did you launch Telfis Café Lux?
RT: Telfils Café was launched in May 2013 with the intent of capitalizing on the production of coffee in Haiti’s southeastern region.
CE: Is there any significance to the name Café Lux, if so what’s the meaning behind it?
RT: The name is very symbolic. From the onset, we wanted to place a high-end product on the market and therefore lux short for luxury. Since Jacmel was the first city in Haiti to electricity, it became known as the City of Light, and LUX in Latin means light. In addition, Jacmel is a touristic place which welcomes many visitors who purchase Jacmel’s well-known artisanal products. Café Lux offers tourists an alternative.
CE: You are based in Jacmel, how many employees did you initially employ and how many do you currently have on staff?
RT: Initially, Telfils Café Lux created about 20 part-time jobs. Now the company has 30 full-time employees and has created nearly 200 indirect part-time jobs through our associations.
CE: In 2018 you expanded the Café Lux Brand to include liqueur and stated using other complementary products such as sugar (white and brown) what brought this about?
RT: We produce high-quality coffee. Sometimes the turnover of stock at supermarkets is not very fast. We needed other products whose consumption is much quicker—for example, sugar. In 2018, as part of our delivery program to public and private institutions, we began to offer them sugar in addition to coffee and it was a success. We also introduced a coffee-base liqueur which is gaining popularity.
CE: Are you hoping to include even more products in the future, and if so what?
RT: We do not intend to stop at these three products, two other products chocolate and peanut butter will be added in the near future.
CE: What are you doing to improve production capacity and the quality of your product?
RT: There are several rules and measures to be observed to sell a product on the national and international market. A high-end product such as Café Lux has undergone a series of tests to obtain certifications to meet national and international standards. Improving the quality of our product is one of our priorities, hence our direct relationship with farmers and coffee associations. We do not only buy the coffee only when we need it, but rather our production department directly supports the growers to be closer to the raw material in order to have thorough control. The traceability of the coffee is guaranteed. We use the best methods from picking to bagging our coffee.
CE: What role to you think agribusiness and other small enterprises could have in growing Haiti’s economy?
RT: Agribusiness companies are at the heart of the economy of developing countries. It is recognized that the development of the agricultural sector has a significant and considerable impact on national food production, food security, reduction of dependence on food imports, and general economic and social well-being. Indeed, agro-industry companies play a significant role in job creation, which implies a decrease in Haiti's unemployment rate.
Agribusiness is a very significant link in the agro-food value chains. It supplies inputs to the agricultural sector and connects them to consumers through the handling, processing, transportation, marketing, and distribution of food and other agricultural products. There are, therefore great synergies between agro-industry and the performance of agriculture as an instrument of economic development. A dynamic and efficient agro-industry stimulates agrarian growth. And a strong link between agribusiness and small farmers to reduce rural poverty.
Agriculture is essential for the economic and social well-being of Haiti. Agricultural initiatives and policies associated with national development policies and trade policies should be designed, implemented, and supported to improve and strengthen this sector and economic growth for the country's economic development.
CE: In 2016 you were winner of the Great South in the “Digicel Entrepreneur” competition, what did that mean to you?
RT: It was a boost for my entrepreneurial career. Our product from the launch won the trust of consumers, our social involvement through our associations were strengths that enabled us to win this award. Our team is motivated to reach the top.
CE: What are some of the health properties of coffee?
RT: Thanks to its powerful antioxidants, notably chlorogenic acid, coffee appears to have a protective effect against several diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and gout - the most common form of arthritis. In most scientific studies about the health benefits of coffee, consuming a lot of it every day is often referred to achieve significant results.
CE: Do you plan to export in the future? Please explain.
RT: Café Lux is already available on the international market, specifically in Canada and the United States, our two most significant global market shares.
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