Chef News

Julia Peixoto Peters of Peixoto Coffee on Family Legacies, Specialty Coffee, and Building Community in Chandler

Peixoto Coffee may have opened its doors on January 31, but the creation of the downtown Chandler roastery and coffee shop has been in the works for much longer. Generations, actually. 

Julia Peixoto Peters was born and raised in southeastern Brazil, where her family grows and sells coffee. Now a resident of Chandler, she and her husband Jeff own and operate Peixoto, where they roast her family's beans and serve coffee inside the beautiful shop. Peixoto Peters, a corporate lawyer, says she handles the creative side of the business: the vision, growth, social media, marketing, and public relations. Her husband, a former aerospace engineer, handles the roasting and manages the business from the technical side.

We sat down with Peixoto Peters to learn a little more about her journey from farmer's daughter to co-owner of Peixoto Coffee. 

How did you decide to get into the coffee business?

My father has been growing coffee his whole life. My grandfather did the same, my great-grandfather did the same, we don’t know how far back. I always knew it was special and I wanted to carry on the family legacy, but didn’t quite know what to do with it. We were busy with our day jobs, with our family, then came the moment that my husband and I decided the timing was right for us to look into starting our own business. We started to talk about what we could do with the family’s coffee. My grandfather had passed away and I came to realize that my dad’s not going to be here forever, and if I didn’t do something with it then this whole tradition of hundreds of years was going to disappear.

How did you go from deciding to get involved in the family business to opening a coffee shop?

Initially we thought we were just going to roast the coffee and distribute it locally, but then we thought well, if we’re going to have a space for roasting, it makes sense to open up to the public so they could experience the coffee from the farm to the cup in one space. We feel like this legacy has been around for a while, but it was just untold.

There’s a growing discussion in the coffee world today about where coffee is coming from, who the farmers are, and how it reaches consumers. How do you see yourself as part of that discussion?

We were in Brazil this July to see the harvest of coffee. When we go, we look at the beans, and we get to pick the plot of the farm where our coffee will come from. We want the coffee to be specialty grade coffee, which means 80 points or higher. We do the work of selecting the exact coffee – the coffee that we want to bring to the shop. To have that ability is a huge blessing to us.

Did you get to see other farms in Brazil, or were you mostly at your family’s?

We got to see a lot of farms. Because I grew up in this region – this coffee growing region – I have a lot of contacts in Brazil. We get to see other farms, the neighboring farms, and try coffees from different regions as well. It’s amazing to see how much Brazil is growing in the specialty industry. In the US people generally see Brazil as commercial coffee, but there is a lot of work being done to elevate it to the specialty level.

With such a personal connection to the coffee you serve, how do you feel about customers who want to add things like cream and sugar to their drinks?

Initially when we were deciding what to offer [at Peixoto], my husband and I were very much in-sync in that we wanted to make good coffee accessible to the masses. We didn’t want to be intimidating; we didn’t want to be dictatorial in the sense that we tell customers how to drink coffee. We’re here to educate them and to hopefully convince them to try it before they add anything. But if they still want to go ahead and add cream, it’s up to them. At the end of the day, it’s their drink, and it’s got to be enjoyable. To me, Brazil coffee has always represented this powerful thing that connects people, that brings people together around the table to talk about their days, their problems, their successes. So if people want to add sugar to make them feel better about what they’re drinking, that’s okay. It’s still a powerful beverage that builds human connections. I think it’s wonderful however people want to experience it. We do offer happy hour, and we get very playful with coffee, too.

What do you offer during Happy Hour?

That is our moment when we think outside the box to really allow people to experiment with their coffee, perhaps in ways that they haven’t thought of before. We do mocktails – or coffee-tails, as they’re called. We’ve offered coffee mojitos, coffee nitro bombs, and different experiments to allow people to have fun and not have to go for the most basic black coffee.

How do you make a coffee mojito?

We use cold brew as a base, and then we add blueberry syrup that one of our baristas made in house. Then we muddle mint and sugar, all the good stuff, over tonic water. We also had a maple-tini with cold brew as a base, and an old fashioned, which was very well received. Kim Hak is one of our baristas who does a lot of that.

You’re located in downtown Chandler, which is becoming a very vibrant area. How do you feel about being part of this community?

We live in Chandler, within a bike ride from here. We wanted to connect where we came from – where I came from – with where we live via coffee. I can’t even imagine opening elsewhere. We want to help our community grow in its food scene, in the Phoenix coffee scene. We like Chandler because even though it’s [a] suburb, it has a lot of diversity. If you drive down the street, you can see Cuban, Asian, Vietnamese restaurants, all these different nationalities coming together in the suburbs of Phoenix. I feel so honored to be part of the movement to be growing the specialty scene in the East Valley. It’s just fantastic.

Peixoto hosts a lot of events and has several partnerships with other businesses in the Valley. How did that get started?

The pop-ups started as a way of bringing food in. We don’t want to get into the business of making food; that’s a totally different industry for us altogether. We started partnerships with small, local bakeries. A lot of times it was our customers who were sitting at the bar and said, “Hey, I make a mean muffin. Can I bring you some to try?” The pop-ups have been tremendously successful. It’s great for the bakers, it’s great for us, and it’s truly community at its best. That’s what this place is about. We grow, they grow, we grow together.

What would you like to see in the future of the coffee community here? How do you see Peixoto playing into that future?

I want to open the door to farmers like my dad. I want them to be able to sell directly to where the coffee is sold. My dad has been doing this for sixty years and has never been able to sell his coffee directly to the buyer. He’s always selling to middle men, brokers, who don’t add anything. Our goal has always been to cut back on the middle men and bring the best quality coffee that we can find directly to our customers. I hope that in doing this for one farmer, we’ll be able to connect with other farmers as well.

What’s in the future for Peixoto specifically? Are you going to open another coffee shop?

A lot of people ask me that. We’re still recovering! We’ll see where this path takes us. Certainly we want to take advantage of opportunities to grow our business as much as we can. That may involve having a second location, it may involve having a big warehouse. We’ll see. We’re dreamers. 
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Cal Faber
Contact: Cal Faber