#MakingTime: A Day in the Life of a Founder Who's Empowering Guatemalan Coffee Farmers

Marta Dalton

Photo courtesy of Coffee Bird Limited


Women can do anything — but not everything. As the largest online career community for women, we at Fairygodboss realize that balance is a myth, and that picking what to prioritize when everything feels important on a day-to-day basis isn't always easy. In the #MakingTime series, women share with us how, for one day, they chose to spend their most precious resource: time.


Who: Marta Dalton

What: Founder & CEO of Coffee Bird Limited, a family business working to empower farmers in Guatemala and change the way coffee is traded

Where: Greater London area


6:00 a.m. 

I wake up and jump out of bed and onto my yoga mat. I do a hatha yoga sequence and then lie down in savasana to meditate for 20 minutes. 

Onto a glass of hot water with lemon and 500ml of celery juice. Then breakfast, shower, get dressed and ready for the day! 

8 a.m. 

I sit down at my desk and review my to-do list. I usually try to do the things that require most of my energy or emotional weight. Today, I’m reviewing our sales for the week and looking at our offer lists. 

At the moment, I’m trying to finalise my purchases and make sure we have clear communication between our Guatemalan and London office, the farmers we work with, and the roasters. 

I really liked a coffee I just tried, so I'm also negotiating another two containers of this for my customers. I send them my counter offer. 

My business is seasonal, as coffee has only one harvest in Central America. At the moment, my purchases are 90% final, and exports are under way. But there are so many little things that change all the time, so a lot of my time is managing communication to make sure everyone is in the loop. 

9 a.m. 

I had a meeting with a client where we talked about the future of coffee — about how the specialty coffee industry has come a long way, but how independent cafes hold the key to the future of coffee. Without them, the future of coffee is dead. 

We talked about the challenges farmers face. It’s a bit gloomy for farmers right now, because local prices are so low. The challenge is presenting the story and the narrative to coffee consumers and café owners in a way that everyone feels comfortable about increasing their prices to help with that. 

Did you know that paying just an extra $0.05 per coffee would impact the coffee growers we work with in such a big way? It’s crazy. 

There are so much messaging going on in this niche industry. It can be used as an opportunity to get coffee fans to realise the impact they can have: that where they buy their coffee and who they buy from can really impact farmers lives. 

We don’t really think of where our wheat comes from for the bread we eat. But for those of us that need that daily caffeine fix, we need to care, because the future of coffee is looking a bit bleak at the moment with low prices and climate change.  Fortunately, that is where my business comes in, as we aim to empower the growers we work with. 

Marta Dalton, CEO and Founder of Coffee Bird Limited
Marta Dalton, CEO and Founder of Coffee Bird Limited

11:40 a.m.

My meeting over, I quickly run back to my desk and jot down my notes. I’m feeling inspired. I had so many ideas as to how to build a tighter connection between farm and consumer, and many ideas as to how to support cafes more. 

I check in with our sales team who is visiting our clients in Russia next week. I’ve broken my foot, so my sister Alex, who looks after our European customers, is going. It’s the first time she’s visiting, so we want to make sure we take care of everyone! This involves coordinating samples, sway, and green and roasted coffee. 


In the afternoon, I talk to a few more clients to make sure their orders are under way. I chat with my mom, who is the co-founder of our business and runs our Guatemalan operations. We run through what’s on deck to be exported, any samples we need, and clients concerns. 

2 p.m.

Lunch! Also, my mom calls me again because she is at a coffee event in Guatemala with our clients and needs to ask me a question.

4:30 p.m.

Now I’m off to physical therapy (because I broke my foot). 

8 p.m. 

I’m chatting with a farmer (seven hours behind) in Guatemala to double check all the facts of the new farms we are working with. I’ve coordinated with our marketing manager who is currently in Bali (seven hours ahead).

10 p.m.

 It’s Friday night. I’ve just made myself two Seedlip cocktails and I’m ready to ice my foot and call it a night. 

I normally will go to bed a touch earlier. I’ve been trying to respect a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. sleep time. I’ve been running this business for eight years and eventually realised how important meditating, yoga, sleep and good food are on my well-being!


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