Between March 8-11, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Expo West, the largest event for natural, organic, and healthy products. I tasted so many different samples of healthy products and had lovely conversations with the exhibitors.
A record-breaking 85.000 people attended 38th annual Natural Products Expo West 2018. 3,521 exhibiting companies joined the event, including more than 600 first-time exhibitors.
As a coffee enthusiast, I especially focused on coffee products during the event. However, I have to admit that the show changed my entire perspective on tea. I came across great tea products that taste amazing with increased health benefits. One of them was Wize Monkey coffee leaf tea.
Wize Monkey Coffee Leaf Tea
I found Wize Monkey Coffee Leaf Tea at the second level of the North Hall in Anaheim Convention Center. As ignorant as I was, I had never heard of them before although they won New Hope NEXTY Award for Best Mission-Based Product at Expo West 2017.
They fit well into that category because of their social and environmental mission. On their website, they define this mission with these words: “Our mission is to break the poverty cycle in coffee communities by harvesting a tasty, healthy, and sustainable product.”
When I visited their booth, it was quite busy. I waited for my chance to go sample their products and have a chat with the real faces behind the brand. I tried their mango flavored coffee leaf tea and I immediately fell in love with the taste. When I heard about their success stories and their social, economical mission for sustainability for coffee farmers, I was impressed even more.
Our Interview with Max Rivest, Co-Founder, and CEO of Wize Monkey
After hearing about their incredible success story and their efforts for sustainability, we invited them for an interview and they were happy to answer our questions. We conducted our interview with Max Rivest, co-founder of the company.
Why did you decide to use the coffee leaf to make tea?
We used the coffee leaf, first and foremost, because it tastes amazing as a tea. It`s light in caffeine. So, you don`t get that crazy spike and crash of a regular coffee. And, it is incredibly rich in antioxidants polyphenols.
Beyond the actual product aspects, the real kicker for us, and what motivated us to create this business and this social venture, is the fact that we can use leaves that are harvested in the off-season. They are typically thrown away. Instead, we can process them like a traditional black tea. So, basically we are employing people year-round, and they are also learning how to make a new skill trade, a whole new product that they can design themselves and get creative with.
How exactly did you come up with the idea to use coffee leaf?
It all started in France when we were doing our Master`s thesis. We came across a health study, showing all the benefits of coffee leaf and how people consumed it for hundreds of years. Essentially, when we realize that it has this huge history of use but never really crafted into a premium tea. Besides, we looked at the industry and saw how seasonal it was to grow coffee beans and farmers are struggling to have a job for all year round.
So, we said, hey, wait a second! There is a great product here with great health benefits. Why don`t we go to Nicaragua and introduce it to them and see what they think? After enough time, enough trying, we came up with this incredible premium tea. We won multiple awards especially for the taste and quality of it. We won multiple sustainability awards, as well.
Could you tell us a bit about different coffee leaf teas in your products line?
We have our original unflavored tee, which is actually our best-seller. We also have an earl grey, mango party, which is very popular during summertime, we have jasmine, mint, And, our new ones are strawberry hibiscus, ginger, and lemon. They are also very popular, especially as ice teas. What`s fantastic about coffee leaf tea is that it`s not bitter like a regular tea. It`s very smooth.
Three Men From Three Different Countries For One Mission
The multiple award-winning company has a very interesting background. They have three young founders, whose interests fit into each other so well. In November 2014, Canadian Max Rivest, French Arnaud Petitvallet, and Nicaraguan Enrique Ferrufino founded a successful business with a special mission. And, when you look at their background and interests, it does not come as a surprise.
Back in 2013, both Max and Arnaud were doing their Master`s in International Business in Bordeaux, France. Max had his interests in international sustainable development and Arnaud cared deeply about sustainability in coffee communities. A class project inspired to create their own sustainable business.
They traveled to Nicaragua to visit farms and build their project. They met third-generation coffee farmer Enrique, who also studied agronomy at Purdue University, and Finance at the University of Toronto.
Coffee Leaf Brings Sustainability
Coffee farms in South America only go from December to March. When their seasonal work is done, coffee farmers face real economic problems. Harvesting coffee leaves, on the other hand, is sustainable and can solve the problem of instability for South American coffee farmers.
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