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Kuju History 101: Born in the Field with Two Eagle Scout Brothers

February 18, 2021 | By Jeff Wiguna | Stories

It's a wonderful luxury for many of us these days - coffee, that is!  And that's why when my brother and I (...yes, we really are both Eagle Scouts) experienced a cup of instant coffee while on a camping trip in 2015, we knew there was a better way. 

That's when we created the Pocket PourOver and Kickstarted it in August 2015.  Which really means that Kuju - the company and idea - was inspired "in the field" - not in a fancy kitchen, hipster coffeehouse, or some cool and eclectic metropolitan city - just outside, where it's cold and the elements are all around you, and where a nice wonderful pick me up (aka a great cup of coffee) can really bring life to your morning, or afternoon for that matter.

 The reason I mention this is because for many of us, when we think about where coffee came from, we may often think of Starbucks, or at least that's where my head goes.  But the reality is it didn't start there at all.  I should clarify however, that I'm not trying to write about where and how coffee as a beverage was born, but strictly where and how the coffee industry was born. And like Kuju - it was born, "in the field", albeit a much bloodier one, that of the Civil War. 

I just learned this from reading Coffee - A Global History by Jonathan Morris. He writes:

"When Civil War soldiers returned home, their coffee-drinking habit stimulated the emerging domestic coffee industry.  By the 1880s America was importing one-third of the world's coffee, occasioning the establishment of the New York Coffee Exchange in 1882."

There you have it. Civil war soldiers, drinking coffee in the field - in the cold, dirty, dark, damp, and probably generally horrible conditions of one of America's bloodiest wars, was the boon that kicked off the coffee industry. 

 

kuju coffee

Kuju Pocket PourOvers, circa 2017. The first iterations, ever.

Why do I share this?  Because it reminded me that the love of coffee grew most when people were in less than ideal situations - when they weren't surrounded by the most beautiful fauna or in the most luxurious, comfortable environments. And in a lot of ways, even if you're getting your cup of coffee from the hippest, hipster coffee shop in the world, there is this emotional sense that the $7 pour over you just bought (Kuju's Ethiopia Single Origin pour over is $3 btw) is your little cup of peace, of rejuvenation, as you trek through the metaphorically cold harsh world of your day to day.

Not quite the Civil War, but I'm not sure we'd love our coffee so much if we felt like every day was a breezy walk in the park. Perhaps we'd all be drinking Pina Coladas instead.

People told us when we started Kuju that the outdoor market was too small. And yea, the truth is, it is a small market - in comparison to the grocery world, or even the gift market for that matter. But there was always something so compelling about it, so human, so real. And that deep experience of inspiration - being outside, in the damn cold, with beautiful mesas and horizons all around us, pouring a simple, yet delicious pour over - and drinking it - always reminds me of what it means to be human.  That things around us are never perfect. That the human experience is never perfect. But that nature...is. And what better place to drink your coffee (preferably a pour over) than outside. In fact, as I write this blog post at 9:39pm, I definitely wish that's where I wish I was, right...now.

To your #KujuMoment,

Jeff

CEO / Cofounder, Kuju Coffee

 

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