Meet Elizabeth Onofre, an entrepreneur bringing stimulating Latin flavours to Denmark
Photographs: Elizabeth Onofre
Text: Catriona Turner
If you know me, you know I’m a coffee lover. As I write, it’s a nutty Amazonian blend I’m sipping on. That’s thanks to Elizabeth Onofre, an Ecuadorian living in Esbjerg who’s introducing aromatic beans from the middle of the world to the Danish market.
I first met Elizabeth in Danish class, where I was instantly drawn to her dazzling smile and friendly enthusiasm. Then I found out about the coffee, and that was all I needed to know.
I’m always impressed by those who take on daunting risks by running their own business - especially in a foreign country and a foreign language. So I was keen to learn more about what motivates Elizabeth.
A passion for home Her ambition shines through: “I created my own company, Latitude Zero Aps,” she explains, “and my goal is to bring the best products from Ecuador to Denmark. I focus on products or brands that are fair trade and organic certified, and run by responsible corporate citizens.” The company name is close to her heart. “I love to tell people I come from the middle of the world! Ecuador is, of course, on the equator, hence the name.”
"While most of us would wait to visit home for the tastes we miss, instead, Elizabeth saw an opportunity and worked fast to fill the niche."
Coffee was the driving force behind her plans. “Being born and raised in Ecuador, we are privileged to drink high-quality coffee every day. When I couldn’t find Ecuadorian coffee in Denmark, I contacted a friend to discuss importing her Wild Coffee brand.” While most of us would wait to visit home for the tastes we miss, instead, Elizabeth saw an opportunity and worked fast to fill the niche.
Exploring that opportunity here in Esbjerg has its advantages. “Esbjerg lets you be a pioneer. We also have the support of Business Esbjerg, which offers counselling and guidance around conducting business in Denmark.”
Elizabeth’s home in Ecuador is the city of Guayaquil, “where part of my heart is.” She’s lived in Esbjerg since March 2017, with mi amor, her Danish husband, Morten. “I enjoy the fact that everything I need is a five-minute cycle or drive away, and the way that people here are friendly and open to helping.”
There are challenges too, of course. Like all internationals, she’s learned that “although everyone usually speaks English in Denmark, to introduce a product to the Danish market, the consumers expect communication to be in Danish.” And she has to convince customers to break old coffee habits and try something new. “I am always working in new ways to introduce Wild Coffee to consumers.”
Determined to succeed
Elizabeth is so determined to build a successful business that she’s begun a Masters, studying innovation and digitalisation to help her seamlessly meet the market. She plans to grow Latitude Zero by adding more products from her home country to the catalogue, starting with Ecuadorian chocolate.
While she’s grateful for the word-of-mouth and support of the international community in establishing her early success, what drives her is building her Danish customer base. “I get so excited whenever just one sale comes through; reaching the Danish market motivates me, and I get such a thrill to be able to introduce a coffee-lover in Copenhagen to some Amazonian flavours.”
I can’t imagine there’s any more delicious combination to start winning over Danish tastes than coffee and chocolate from the middle of the world. With her cheerful determination, Elizabeth is sure to make it work.
Go to latitudezero.dk, or follow @wildcoffeedk on Instagram and Facebook, to order your taste of Ecuador.