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From Global 500 to Personal #1 - Gretchen Xu

Author: Gretchen Xu

Editor: Kelvin & Jack

In previous generations, gender discrimination was regarded as a normal and accepted.

Females have been considered as the weaker gender, involving too many feelings when making a decision. 

But have we ever considered what it would be like if we were living in a world with a complete lack of emotions? It may look like this:

  1. Happiness is not important. You just need to work every single day, follow the routine, like a robot. You will feel neither happy, sad or any other feeling. However, what’s happiness? We even don’t know our feelings, just like a machine.

  2. After reaching your goal, will you be happy? No, the goal is the only point.

  3. Let’s celebrate!  No… There is nothing worth celebrating.

Just by simply listing out some examples, I began to wonder, what is the purpose of our lives without any emotion. In reality, feeling is an essential element of our lives.

But then, why do so many societies consider “emotional” a negative trait? I think if we can understand the true meaning of emotions/feelings, we will realize another indispensable skill—empathy.


It is defined as ” the ability to understand what another person is experiencing”, or “ share the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another”.

Generally speaking, females tends to have more empathy than males, so they may consider certain emotions.

But, would you consider this a bad thing because they are “not logical” and “tend to rely more on feelings”? Let’s all take a moment to evaluate ourselves. 

When you chose your current job, didn’t you also rely on your feelings about the company, the position, the team, the boss?  If not, I would then ask, how do you define happiness?  What do you really want?

This week, we will cover another female coffee voyager. She is also a tough lady! 

I realized that our tough ladies tend to forgot their introduction. So I will do this now.  


I’m honored to introduce Miss Gretchen Xu. She is currently working at Torch as the Chief Finance Officer (CFO). My impression of Gretchen is that she is a very cheerful lady with a unique laugh! 

She left the sprawling metropolis of Beijing and came all the way to the small city and coffee origin, Pu’er. It was a very big contrast, and how did she make such a big decision? Let’s jump into her story now…

The Fast-Paced Life of an Office Lady


After graduating from university in Canada, I chose to go back to Beijing. I wanted to enrich myself, to try my best. I hoped that I could experience something new, explore the meaning of freedom and life in this fast-paced city.

I love working. Beijing was a place that I could work with high efficiency. My daily routine was walking across the CBD office building in my high heels, with a cup of coffee in my left hand and a laptop in my right hand. 

I was a typical office lady with a passionate attitude for my work. 


In the past decade of working, I always force myself to improve my values. From working in the top 500 companies in the world, to top 500 domestic, and then having my own business, I met a lot of people that have enriched my life. 

Besides that, I learned how to identify “blue oceans”. I also began to seek out my own happiness.

My Chance Meeting with Coffee from a Book:

“A New Earth:Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”


One day when I came across a passage in the book "A New Earth:Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”.

The secret of happiness is to be united with our life and present, and be responsible for our internal state at every moment.

This is just an option, but doing so requires us to practice again and again, until it becomes our lifestyle.

I thought about this for a long time. What could make me happy? There was a huge market, but what could make me feel satisfied both in my work and my heart? At then I noticed the cup of coffee on my desk.

You could see the potential of the Chinese coffee market just from coffee giant Starbucks’ ambitious plans to expand.

Obviously, the food and beverage industry in China is a in period of rapid growth and consumption habits are changing a lot.


Along with the rapid development of China’s financial industry, we have more and more opportunities to enjoy high quality coffee. 

For example, at the beginning of this year, Zheng Shang issued some good news about the listing of futures of agricultural products, like coffee.

All of these things led me to firmly believe that the prospects for the coffee market in China is awesome—it was a “blue ocean”. 

So, where should I start with this huge market? I decided to start with learning the final product – coffee. After seeking out training schools in Beijing, I was disappointed but also very excited.

I was disappointed as these training schools were based entirely on training and did not involve the core of the main coffee chain too much. But I was excited as this industry was bigger than I had imagined.

Coffee and me were brought together by fate. I accidentally met Torch in Yunnan. After meeting with Torch briefly, I was resolved to view the coffee trees and coffee beans in Yunnan. 


After coming to Torch, everything was as I had imagined. Here, I could access the entire value chain, and had access to rich resources and professional coffee skills. As far as I was concerned, Torch was a rising superstar, a brand with so much potential.


So I decided to move to Pu’er. My family, friends and colleagues in Beijing were sad to see me leave, but they also gave me so much encouragement and support.

Specialty Coffee Recognized by the Public


After learning more about the specialty coffee industry, I started to feel the limitations of the Chinese specialty coffee market. 

Coffee is a daily product as well as a kind of “fast-moving consumer good”. 

However, because of Chinese dietary habits, the daily consumption of coffee has yet to reach its full potential. So it is particularly important to cultivate and educate the end-consumers tastes and develop their daily consumption habits.

Many professionals in the coffee industry wrestled with this issue, and we all wonder how specialty coffee could become more popular in China.  

We hope that the market can grow, so in turn we can provide coffee lovers with the best coffee possible.

If No Coffee?


This is impossible! In many countries, coffee is a lifestyle, part of daily life. The coffee trading volume is second only to crude oil products, and can provide around 2.25 billion cups (2,250,000,000) of coffee per day. 

Although it is not a necessity, clearly there are market demands behind such large-scale trading.

Leisure Time


I long for peace, but I advocate freedom more. I love photography even though I haven't travelled to many places. 


But every time I go to a new place, I am eager to experience it. Before coffee, I only had a camera. 


Now I prefer taking my coffee and camera and go sightseeing in the beautiful mountains in Yunnan.

I think maybe if someone chooses to make a choice for personal happiness, they will have a strange sense of empathy. Just like……

At the beginning, I also got involved in design because I saw some beautiful designs. Although I did not see “the Blue Ocean” like Gretchen in my design world. ( The sea has already felt that someone denying himself every day……)


However, I still feel that only when you close your eyes, that you will see that which you are most yearning for deep in your heart.


Empathy is not only understanding other people's feelings, but also allowing others to understand you. 

We must first understand our own feelings. But it is not limited to the feeling that we lose ourselves when we continue to pander to others. 

Conversely, when we have to make a decision, what we need to do is fully consider and understand the feelings of others, and make the best choice we can.

So what is your choice of happiness?