IRWINDALE, CALIF. – Waka Coffee, a direct-to-consumer instant coffee brand, has added a former Starbucks executive as an advisor and is considering expanding into grocery retailing.
Founded in 2018, Waka Coffee sources premium Arabica beans that are freeze-dried to preserve the aroma and depth of flavor of the coffee, said Founder and CEO David Kovalevski. He developed the concept while juggling college classes and a full-time job in New York City. Regularly visiting cafes was getting expensive, and making a cup at home took time and materials in an already cramped kitchen. Traditional instant coffee, he discovered, is often produced from roasted Robusta beans in large quantities that are spray-dried, compromising the taste, he said.
Waka Coffee offers an assortment of instant coffees, including light and medium roasts, Colombian and Indian origins, and caffeinated and decaffeinated options. Additionally, the company has added instant Kenyan black tea and Japanese matcha to its range. Future product development could include flavored instant coffee, with offerings such as light mocha, dark chocolate, lavender vanilla, salted caramel and buttery pecans, Kovalevski said.
Products are packaged in recyclable packages, bags and boxes, and the startup donates a portion of the proceeds from sales to support clean and safe drinking water initiatives. Waka Coffee is also working towards obtaining fair trade and organic certifications for its products.
Sales of instant coffee in the United States rose 30% last year to $ 940 million, according to Nielsen data, and Gen Z consumers are more likely to use this format.
Earlier this year, Waka Coffee was one of seven startups selected to participate in the SKU Acceleration Program for Emerging Consumer Products Companies.
Joe Canterbury, who has held various management positions at Starbucks Coffee International, joins the Waka Coffee team as an advisor. Mr. Canterbury has extensive experience in business development, operations and global expansion, start-up investments, fundraising and scale-up.
Additionally, Waka Coffee is launching its Colombian Medium Roast Instant Coffee, Indian Light Roast, and Colombian Decaffeinated Instant Coffee in all Central Market stores in the Texas area.