The original vision of Kuju Coffee Company was to create a brand that pointed to something greater than ourselves.
Not a healthy lifestyle
Not a wonderful friends and family
Not caring for the environment
Not achieving our greatest potential.
But something greater than all of that.
I personally believe the greatest thing that is out there beyond ourselves is simply the ability to learn that we simply are not the center of the universe.
I also personally don’t believe that hawking products, selling more stuff and creating more market value makes any sense in a world that is the way it is.
The reality is we in America are living in the greatest city of abundance mankind has ever seen, while the surrounding thousands of cities struggle to eat, walk with freedom, and feel a sense of daily safety. Anyone who can mentally accept that reality should ultimately have a huge problem with the idea of millions of productivity hours going to building “brands”. Is our society so devoid of meaning that we need it to be manufactured?
So the idea of monetizing the next great wave of innovation - hard seltzer, non-alcoholic beer, plant-based meat, and yes, even specialty coffee - is frankly somewhat generally ludicrous to me and unintentionally self-absorbed. The only reason I was able to sell fair trade greeting cards with absolute passion in my job before founding Kuju was because each card was handcrafted by a woman who had escaped sex trafficking and I knew about every 6,000 cards sold was literally someone who didn’t have to give up her body to eat.
I’ve strived to find that kind of meaning in Kuju. And it’s been hard. Not because it has not been there, but because the meaning I hoped to create was on the front end of the business, not the back. But that meaning is there. I simply didn’t know it would take 7 years, near 2,000 doors in the most coveted retailers - REI, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and more - production capacity management, financial ingenuity, hiring and phase out skills, legal and captable acumen, competitive grit and determination, vision in the face of macro and personal adversity, and not to mention disciplined unit economics, boldness in our go to market strategy (one of our greatest strengths I believe), and fresh innovation to make all that relevant to the trade.
The toll has been great. But I believe with all my heart and soul that the journey not taken would have exacted a larger toll - one that would place me and the company in a position to hawk products, endlessly, for the sake of increasing wealth for those who already had it while the rest of the world starved and hoped we in the greatest country in the world would give a damn.
So how do we do better? Is it even possible? I’m not going to try to answer that here.
But behind our answer is a core reason I have chosen to grow Kuju via the Evergreen path as articulated by the Tugboat Institute. It is also why I have chosen to pursue building Kuju as a Redemptive venture as pioneered by Praxis Labs.
The search for that answer has brought me to discovering Kuju’s core purpose:
"To create a self-sustaining culture that lasts over 100 years, where people and stakeholders can flourish and people are clearly treated as more important than the sheer maximization of profit."
The next 7 years will be exciting. We finally have the opportunity to build on top of a hard fought foundation most rarely get the chance to build on with such a pure outlook. Our vision is to be the #1 outdoor lifestyle coffee brand for people who love the outdoors and we mean that literally, because when you take yourself out of the picture and let yourself run on a 100 year vision, Year 7 is just the start.
We chose coffee because it is a phenomenal commodity and vehicle to communicate a set of shared values. We chose the outdoors because it is the greatest public utility the world has ever known, and we believe the more we meet, commune and rejuvenate in the outdoors, the more we can become less self-obsessed, and awaken to the things in life that matter.
So if you love the outdoors, or love the underdog, we invite you to join us by signing up for our email list or following us on Instagram, but most of all by waking up! Getting your Kuju, lighting that fire or stove and get out there. The sun is rising and we're here to Inspire Your Awakening. Are you ready?
CEO / Founder, Kuju Coffee Company
--> Find Kuju nationwide in ~2,000 stores across the US, including REI, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Sportsman's Warehouse, and more!