A new perspective on Coffee and Tea: “Building” Coffee Match

 

How did all this get started?

Growing up in a South Indian household, my family was always into traditional syrupy Indian “kapi,” the coffee that they grew used to in their youths. On our trips to India every few years, my parents would make it a point to bring back a few pounds of this local Indian coffee–even if it was just to savor that taste for an extra few weeks.

Once that Coffee ran out, we would go back to the norm–the norm being overly roasted (and cheap) Kirkland Columbian Coffee from Costco.  I started to wonder why this was the case. How can you go from enjoying world class coffee that brought back so many memories to bulk quantity roast? The answer was simple – It came down to convenience and quality–my parents didn’t have the time to go hunting store to store to find Indian Coffee; more importantly, if they did happen to find it – it was often a few months old and not great quality. (not to mention overpriced)

Traditional "South Indian" Coffee (a lots of milk & sugar included :) )

Traditional “South Indian” Coffee – lots of milk & sugar included :)

The various types of Coffee that my parents would typically bring back from India

The various types of Coffee that my parents would typically bring back from India

I started Coffee Match with a vision to change this:  Make it easy for anyone to enjoy delicious Coffee and Tea.

I decided to go to India and understand the coffee and tea business from the ground up – straight from the source – the farmers and the exporters.

Came across this book while stopping by a Coffee Shop

Starting with the basics

The quest to find India’s best coffee:

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Places Visited: Trip: Mumbai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Mysore, Coorg

I’ve made many trips to India as a kid, as any immigrant kid would relate – mainly to visit family and friends. But I never really had a chance to take in the culture and observe India through the lens of the motor that drives it—tea and coffee. This trip would be different – I was on a mission. I wanted to act like a “tourist” and document the entire experience through my camera and so began my search to find India’s best coffee.

The best Coffee in India is grown in a region known as Coorg which is about 3-4 hours away from Mysore (the closest major city). Getting to Coorg is not the easiest journey – you really traverse through ‘rural’ India – a lot of rough roads and the occasional cow crossing the road – but as you pass by these lush and rich landscapes,  you really begin to see a land that is rich in history, filled with people of various creeds and a culture that is so different from the traditional India you’ve always known through Bollywood movies and stories from your parents.

Not to play on the stereotypes or anthing

Experience true “rural” india

Makeshift housing & factories

Makeshift housing & factories

Beautiful Ganesh Temple on the way

Beautiful Ganesh Temple on the way

Stopping by some local stores

Stopping by some local stores

Learning from the source: Srivara Coffee Works

I had a chance to visit Srivara Coffee Works in Kushal Nagar, Karnataka. Through detailed interviews with the farmers, the exporters and store owners, I had a chance to understand the process of importing raw beans, what makes coffee from this region unique, and how it is consumed and prepared by locals.

The Team at Srivara Coffee Works

The Team at Srivara Coffee Works

Interviewing the plant manager

Interviewing the plant manager

Understanding the process from plant to seed

Understanding the process from plant to seed

During my visit to the farm, I stopped by local restaurants to taste the food from the region– not unlike a tourist–and tried to find out as much about the language and day-to-day life of a Coorgi. I started out with trying to find coffee, but after spending about a day in the region, ended up with so much more.

The local "hang out" for the workers

The local “hang out” for the workers

Meeting one of the best roasters in the city

Meeting one of the best roasters in the city

Watching sugar cane juice being made (click to watch the actual video)

Watching sugar cane juice being made (click to watch the actual video)

I was excited to share my experiences and wanted to figure out a way to bring this back to the end customers: I wanted to help the average coffee drinker connect with the world through our product.

Building an “experience” around Coffee & Tea

Coffee Match’s goal then became to deliver high quality coffee and package it in a way that from the first sip to the last, you feel you’ve been there. If you close your eyes and smell the coffee as you enjoy it, you should feel transported into its world. If we can accomplish this— have the consumer truly engage with the coffee and its myriad stories–then our work is complete.

We want to build a coffee and tea brand that will open people’s eyes beyond consumption. We want to transform the single act of sipping a hot beverage into a way to create a bond and a relationship with the consumer – a way to deliver interesting unique content with each cup every single day.

Coffee Match Panel

Our initial package with the app

With every cup – whether its scanning a QR code or taking a picture of the package or getting a simple email from us – our vision is to bring you closer to the world and its cultures. From learning about what it took to bring that bean to directly to you, meeting the farmer, learning about the culture, and interacting with locals we’ve met along the way – consuming goes beyond the product – it becomes an experience.

Watch our app in action at a store

Watch our app in action at a store

What we’ve accomplished so far:

We’ve had a chance to visit two countries so far: India and Panama. We’ve built a direct relationship with the farmers to import the raw beans to our roasting plant. We’ve worked out the logistics around roasting and shipping directly to consumers.

We’ve created the initial Coffee Match app that we’ve been testing with a small customer base to understand how to make this experience seamless, and to understand what content you find interesting.

Our focus is on quality & building an amazing experience for our customers.

Next Steps:

We still have a lot of work to do around building more relationships with direct sources, packaging the product to make it easy to consume and building out the ideal end-consumer experience.

We’ve enjoyed it every step of the way, and we hope to bring some of that joy and passion into the coffee you enjoy every morning.

We just launched our Indiegogo & We’d sincerely appreciate your support

Here some more pictures from the journey – hope you enjoy them:

Mysore Palace

Mysore Palace

Lunch anyone?

Lunch anyone?

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From Farm to Plant to Shipping Yard

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Thousands of beans ready to be shipped

We just launched our Indiegogo & We’d sincerely appreciate your support

Four Very Unique Tea Cultures From Around the World (Part One)

1. China

In China, tea isn’t just a drink. It’s a way of life. It’s a work of art that is created in tea ceremonies, an exact science used in traditional Chinese medicine, and a little of both in Chinese cuisine. Chinese tea can be brewed in one of two distinct ways, Chaou, which is a method best used for lightly oxidized teas, and Gongfu Cha Dao, which is generally used for Oolong and fermented teas. Tea is used to speak and communicate in family units and society, and can be served as a way of conveying respect to elders, during family gatherings, as a form of apology, and to connect families on wedding days. Thousands of years of tradition go into making Chinese tea preparation what it is today: a unique culture that is completely inimitable.

2. Morrocan Tea

In Morrocco, the tea of choice is green tea, served with the fresh and unexpected twist of mint. Like the Chinese, Moroccans consider their tea a form of art, and it plays a large role in the culture and customs of the country. The tea is brewed with mint and is consumed at meals, and the additions and sweetness change from region to region. Generally, the green tea is allowed to steep while the tea pot is still on the stove. Next, the sugar is added, and the fresh mint leaves are introduced to the mix and the tea is allowed to continue steeping. In a few minutes, the tea is ready. Sometimes tea is prepared with pine nuts, wormwood, or lemon verbena. No matter what the flavor blend is, however, tea is always served to guests, and it is considered rude not to accept the tea.

3. Tibetan Tea

Tea has a very unique method of preparation in Tibet. For starters, it is always taken with yak butter, as yaks are the most commonly found milk-producers in the world’s proverbial ceiling, and Tibet is the most elevated country on earth. Additionally, tea is prepared with salt, and due to the highly caloric nature of yak butter, is an extremely nourishing food for the extremely cold temperatures experienced by native Tibetans.

4. Burmese Lahpet

Myanmar is one of the only countries in the world where tea is not only consumed in liquid form, but also eaten as pickled leaves known as lahpet. No special ceremonies in Myanmar are complete without the serving of pickled tea leaves, and the dish is believed to have medicinal properties that cure digestive issues. In Myanmar, Lahpet is also the national dish and represents the rich history and culture of its people.

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Lahpet, served with peanuts, soy beans, and other accompaniments.

Filter Coffee and Chicory in South India

In India, particularly the South, coffee is prepared entirely differently from anywhere else in the world and served in unique steel vessel known as a tumbler. Indian coffee, known colloquially as filter coffee, is made through a metal coffee filter and owes its particular taste to the addition of the chicory plant, which enhances the flavor of the coffee, and the ample quantities of sugar and boiled milk.

Chicory

Typically, due to the extremely hot temperatures at which coffee is served, many coffee salesmen are also experts at pouring the coffee between two vessels–the tumbler and the dabarah–to cool it off. The pour also serves the purpose of evenly mixing in the sugar as well as aerating the coffee to create foam. This pour, which requires skill and balance, is performed at longer distances, leading to the alternate name “meter coffee.”

Indian Man Skillfully Pours Hot Coffee

http://vimeo.com/19634632

Ultimately, the product is frothy, sweet and undoubtedly worth sampling.

 

‘Chai Tea’ isn’t a Thing

Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a tea devotee, nobody wants to be wrong when it comes to terminology. So why do we continue to order “chai tea?” In today’s coffee shops, ordering a chai tea or a chai tea latte will usually get you a spiced tea drink sometimes completed with steamed milk.

But the name of this highly popular drink is a slight redundancy. Chai, which originates from the Indo-Persian, “chay,” which in turn originates from the Chinese “cha,” is a root word that has, for centuries, simply meant tea. So each time we order chai tea, we’re just ordering tea tea.

Our guess is that the name isn’t going to change anytime soon. Perhaps we’ve even made a new meaning for the word chai, referring specifically to the spiced quality of the delicious beverage. However, if you want to get technical, the word that is used in chai-drinking countries to describe a spice mixture is masala, and thusly, all chai tea lattes in India are known as masala chai. Either way, it’s nice to know what we’re drinking.

We are changing the way we interact with products we consume everyday

The consumer-product relationship is broken. Just think – walking into a store  – there is no real interaction between you and the products on the shelf? For most of us it is a simple “Hmm this looks good, I’ll take it.” and throughout consuming the item, nothing new about it is really ever learned. We seek to revolutionize this experience by allowing you – from the moment you first see the product on the shelf to your last interaction with it – it adds value & color to your life.

When we saw this gap, we started Coffee Match – changing the buying & consumption experience around Coffee & Tea.

image by Irie Stock

Revolutionizing the way we consume Coffee & Tea

We are both passionate about technology and wanted figure out a way to use it to create an experience around Coffee & Tea. To create an experience – we started thinking about what kind of content would add value to the consumption.

To start…You want to know where it comes from, who is responsible for making it. Next to really spice things up – experience it with your own eyes. Meet the farmers, the local roasters, understand how its locally consumed, what is interesting about the Coffee/Tea drinking culture, & impacts around the production of this beverage.

And that’s exactly what we did. We went to India to accomplish this.

Coffee_Adventure

Our First Journey: South India

Our trip in India was incredibly insightful. Most of the amazing Coffee in India is grown in a region known as Coorg which is about 3-4 hours away from any major city. On our journey to Coorg, we realized we were stumbling across amazing locations filled with interesting people & an amazing culture. We started to see how the Coffee & the culture fit together.

It was a surreal experience of how we initially began the trip to find this amazing Coffee, but in the process of doing so – we ended up with so much more. From learning local recipes, understanding how the Coffee is supposed to be made, listening to local music, meeting the local developer community, picking small bits from the language – how it all came together to change our perception of what Coffee & Tea really is.

So we want to bring this experience back – package it in a way from the first sip to the last sip – you feel you’ve been there.

Coffee From Coorg

The future of Coffee & Tea:

Once we came back home, we realized we had an opportunity to expose the world to interesting cultures through their daily interaction with Coffee & Tea – a seamless way to consume information while enjoying a delicious beverage.

So we built an app as prototype that pushes all the of the content that we gather while sourcing the coffee/tea from that destination & delivers in a seamless way to the end customer from the moment they see the product at the store.

Watch our app in action at a store

Watch our app in action at a store

For instance, meet the farmer with a quick snap – you can see the actual farmer who made it & the raw coffee/tea in his/her hand right on the store shelf. Watch it in action.

And through the process of drinking the coffee/tea until the last sip – we push interesting content through directly to you.

Coffee Match Panel

Creating an experience around products

Our vision is at the store – walking into an aisle – is much more interesting & interactive. The products are alive. You’re not buying a product, but you’re buying an experience.

We just launched our Indiegogo & we’d sincerely appreciate your support in changing the way we consume products forever.

Pledge today to be a part of the experience

Creating an experience every month.

Coffee_Adventure

We are continuing our series at Coffee Match in our mission to bring you an authentic experience every month.

We will be traveling to unique countries around the world discovering their cultures through Coffee & Tea – finding & sourcing some of the best from that region.

Our next trip starts today – we will be filming & documenting our experiece as we travel across the country – Like us on Facebook to follow our latest adventures.

Any guesses on which country we’ll be going to this month?

How many countries have you visited in one day?

Country Flags

I wanted to capture my day in New York on paper to see how many countries I interact with everyday through products I consume.

My routine today:

  • 6:30 am: Woke up, shut off my alarm & checked to see if there were any big emails on Samsung Galaxy S

    • Samsung: Made in Korea

  • 7:00 am: Put on my Puma gym shoes & my nike running shorts/t-shirt

    • Puma Shoes: Made in Thailand

    • Nike: Made in China

  • 8:30 am: Put on work clothes – Jeans, Shirt, & Casual Dress shoes

    • Jeans: Made in India

    • Shirt: Made in Bangladesh

    • Shoes: Made in Italy

  • 9:00 am: On my walk to work stopped by my favorite tea shop in NYC – FIKA & pick up a Chobani Greek yogurt for breakfast

    • Fika Coffee & Tea: Made in Sweden

    • Chobani: Made in Greece

  • 12:30 pm: Picked up a street falafel/chicken sandwich

    • Falafel: Originally from Lebanon (commonly found in the Middle east)

  • 2:30 pm: Stepped out of work for an hour to pick up a new jacket. Realized I’m traveling to SF next week & was looking for a light fall jacket. Stopped by Massimo Dutti.

    • Massimo Dutti: Made in Spain

  • 6:00 pm: Pick up dinner from Lena (for those of you who live in NYC & haven’t tried it – it is AMAZING) Think Chipotle for Latin American/Cuban food

    • Lena: Cuban Food – Cuba

  • 8:00 pm: Watched the USA vs Mexico world cup qualifying match

    • Soccer: Mexico

Looking back, it’s pretty amazing – within 1 day – I’ve interacted with 12 countries.

I asked myself – how much do I know about these countries or where/how these products are made?

Why start a company about coffee?

coffee bagsWhen I let family & friends know that I’m starting a company about coffee – I often got asked the question – “why coffee?” We both have a extensive backgrounds in tech, startups, & all that good stuff – so why start a company that wasn’t using a sophisticated algorithm or a NLP or big data to solve the worlds most complex problems? Because we realized ultimately people are passionate about very specific things in life – it often revolves around something they part take in everyday – whether its going to the gym, watching a movie, finding new restaurants or meeting with friends to socialize. We wanted to find a way to help people extend their passion in a creative way that makes it simple & easy. What better way to start than Coffee? It’s the most consumed beverage in the world & the most heavily traded commodity after Oil. However, along the process of starting this company – doing the research, the work, & putting in extensive hours to try to find some of the most unique & refined coffee beans in the world – we’ve stumbled upon something bigger.

A way to connect people with unique cultures & people around the world through coffee. You are not just subscribing to a certain amount of coffee delivered each month – but your subscribing to learn about a unique & interesting country, culture, & of course – a coffee farm from around the world. Our vision is to make this an experience about learning, finding, & discovering coffee with others.

Hope you enjoy your first batch of coffee.

The Age of the Conscious Consumer

socially-conscious-consumer

I am sure you might have heard about the Horse Meat scandal in europe right now. If not, this might shock you.

But the question is – should you really be shocked & surprised? Ask yourself – what relationship do you have with the food & products you consume everyday? Do you know where its made, who makes it, how its made? Most likely- the answer is no to most of those questions.

What do we really know about our food? Most people nothing…. Here are the results of a recent survey  taken in London about people & their knowledge about the food they consume.

What the survey highlights is that many people have a very basic understanding of the things they consume. Take ‘bacon’ for example – “More than a third of 16 to 23-year-olds (36%) do not know bacon comes from pigs” – now we are not talking about detailed knowledge of food processing, we are talking about linking popular items in every grocery store to the animal it originated from.

The important message here is that this a clear WAKE UP CALL for everyone to become more conscious about what we consume – it does have a substantial impact on our health & well-being. If we don’t care about our food, what do we really care about?

At Coffee Match we believe we are entering the Age of the Conscious Consumer.

We want to start with a beverage that is consumed by more than 3 billion people around the world everyday – helping answer basic questions like how is it made? where does it come from? who makes it?

Our mission is to instill a new mentality among consumers – supporting this change is at the foundation of Coffee Match. We are working to build honest and transparent relationships with farmers around the world.

Surprise!

Why is each month’s coffee a surprise?

Because each month we want to expose you to something you would have never expected.

We know that the tasty coffee will leave your face looking like this…

We also know that you will appreciate being able to log back into Coffee Match and learn more about the beans and the region of the world they come from.

Sometimes we forget what it feels like to be surprised – no matter how big or small – it’s something that changes your day & makes it a bit more interesting.

Coffee Match’s monthly coffee surprise exposes you to new favors from our international suppliers. It is awesome because everyone who is signed up for that month gets the same coffee. You are sharing a cup of coffee with the world.

The Coffee Match Panel tells you everything you want to know about the coffee bean. Is it Organic? Fair Trade? What region of the world does it come from? And other interesting tid bits!

Share a cup with the world each month and learn about new places at the same time.

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