We couldn’t be more excited to launch our newest One for One® product – TOMS Roasting Co. Below is a piece written by Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Founder & Chief Shoe Giver, sharing his thoughts on entering the coffee business.
Many of you know TOMS as a global Giving company, famous for the One for One® model. We started with shoes and then, five years later moved into to eyewear. But for a long time I’ve wondered, could we become a global Giving company in something other than the fashion and lifestyle business? Now, I can give you a definitive answer: it’s “Yes.”
Last week, TOMS expanded into the coffee business with the launch of TOMS Roasting Co.
You may be wondering, “Why coffee? And how can TOMS apply the One for One concept to it?”
Let me step back. Despite the success of TOMS, we’ve had some pretty big criticisms. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard was that we were too focused on aid and not on economic development. The more I listened, I agreed that the One for One model could do more. We were giving shoes to children who needed them, but our model wasn’t helping create jobs in their communities. So I started to learn as much as I could about economic development. This spurred new programs like our local manufacturing and the Haiti Artist Collective. It also shifted my thinking about the next One for One.
While studying up on economic progress in the developing world, there was one business that continually came up: coffee and coffee farms. Many of the world’s most impoverished countries produce some of the greatest coffee. And many of these countries happen to be where TOMS Giving Partners are giving shoes to children and helping restore sight to patients in need. In addition, over the last five years, there’s been more and more emphasis on trading directly with coffee farmers — ensuring they receive the best price for their beans and exposure to new agricultural development techniques, thereby getting a higher yield from their crops.
We knew we wanted to have a greater impact on the places where TOMS gives, and working in coffee seemed like a natural fit to continue our mission of using business to improve lives.
But there was the question of how to apply the One for One approach to this new business. As we did more research, we realized the answer was in water. It takes a tremendous amount of H20 to wash and preserve high-quality coffee beans. At the same time, many of the people in coffee-growing countries don’t have access to safe water.
That was our ah-ha moment. TOMS works directly with farmers and, in return, invests in long-term water systems to help provide safe water to communities without it. This led us to our next TOMS Roasting Co. With every bag of coffee purchased, TOMS will provide one week of clean water to a person in need. One for One®.
The key to TOMS Roasting Co. is our Giving Partner — Water For People — an innovative organization helping communities implement and maintain long-term water systems and services. It is amazing to see these systems in place. Pipes, gravity-filled tanks, downhill filtration systems — it is an engineer’s puzzle. And the impact on a community is amazing.
We are excited to bring TOMS Roasting Co. to the TOMS community across the United States, first through cafes. With the launch of TOMS Roasting Co., we also opened our first TOMS Roasting Co. Café in Austin, with plans to launch in New York, Portland and more. TOMS Coffee will be carried at Whole Foods and is also available online. We’ve even launched a coffee club for coffee lovers! The TOMS Roasting Club allows you to sign up for monthly shipments of different coffee from the parts of the world where we’re working.
Ultimately, it’s a form of One for One® giving that can become part of the fabric of our customers’ daily lives. And by providing safe water to countries from where we source our beans, we have the opportunity to have a greater impact on communities in need.