A new venture capital fund created at the urging of Gov. John Hickenlooper has made its first investment — $3 million to Boulder-based Bhakti Chai.
Boulder, Colorado-based Bhakti Chai, which has grown sales by 48 percent in the past two years, is not only Fair Trade Certified and organic, but Non-GMO Project Verified and one of the first beverage businesses to become a Certified B Corporation four years ago. Companies with this designation voluntarily undergo a yearly audit assessing their measurable impact as well as social and environmental performance standards.
In much the same way that Mo Siegel put Boulder on the tea drinking map when he launched Celestial Seasonings 45 years ago, Brook Eddy is on course to take her wildly popular Bhakti Chai brand on an equally expansive, if not greater, business trajectory.
“I wish I could say I learned to take risks on a summer night with mushrooms as my guide, or traveling on the night train in India with a risk guru. But, really, it was business that forced me to drop the drug of risky behavior. Business was my risk boot camp. Without a playbook in hand I ventured towards the edge of the high dive as the kids in my head yelled, “Jump. Jump. Jump.”
This week, Taster’s Choice is spicing things up – in the form of liquid chai concentrates, which can be served either hot or cold. With a wide variety available on the market – green tea, red rooibos and more – we kept things simple by sticking with the classic blends that use black tea and spices. In first place is Bhakti Chai. Several of our panelists enjoyed the “complex spices,” noting that the tea offered a “very soothing quality” and had a “nice kick from the ginger.”
In USA TODAY’s newest small-business series — Smart Small Business — Bhakti Chai is one of four expanding firms in the food and beverage industry openly sharing their entrepreneurial triumphs and challenges, and discussing the specific actions that have led to customer retention, increased distribution and positive product reviews. Each firm was honored with a “sofi” award from the Specialty Food Association, which is considered an Oscar in the artisanal food world.
Eighteen companies in the Boulder Valley have gone through the certification process created by the B Lab, a nonprofit group based in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Companies who want to become certified go through a free analysis that includes filling out paperwork and answering questions from B Lab employees.
They’re part of a growing cadre of more than 700 companies around the globe — including Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings Inc. in Vermont — that want to go through the independent verification process of being socially and environmentally conscious.
In the April 2013 issue of EveryDay with Rachel Ray, Rachel included Bhakti Chai in her 5 “brand-new buys to shake up your grocery list”!
After a great yoga class, we tend to crave the spicy sweetness of a good chai tea. We discovered two brands that make enjoying chai at home or on the go easier than ever.
Video shot at Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco highlights how Bhakti Chai’s ready-to-drink iced bottles offer a taste of India for on-the-go consumers.
From a beverage perspective, the Fancy Food Show has been gaining a reputation as a brief glimpse into the future for the next wave of all things functional and/or natural from across the globe. Here’s a snapshot of the liquid creations on display at the winter edition of the show in late January in San Francisco, which was presented by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT).
They’ve spent years developing the perfect balance of spice and sweet for a tantalizingly warm chai concentrate….These are America’s Chai sellers.
The Chocolate Invitational Festival, held at Great Spirits Ranch in Malibu, couples fine entertainment with tasty treats (like Bhakti Chai!) for the afternoon of delicious indulgence. Check it out!
If you measured out the beverage industry by gender, gents would tip the scale in ownership. Two Colorado women are filling this gap with exceptional products that don’t compromise sustainability, authenticity and charitable giving. Though Karen Hoskin, founder of Montanya Distillers in Crested butte, and Brook Eddy, founder of Bhakti Chai in Boulder, are mountains apart in location, the two women share too many similarities to ignore, so we paired them up for this profile and winter cocktail recipe.
What happens when you combine fresh ginger juice, Fair Trade tea, and sincere devotion to social change? Bhakti Chai. Here’s why this Boulder, Colorado-based B-corporation is on fire.
Brook Eddy, founder of Bhakti Chai, in Boulder, Colo., offers an inside look at how she grew her business from her home kitchen to a respected retail and food service brand. Eddy is currently working to secure national distribution. See how Bhakti and brands like it contribute to the U.S. economy and stack up to small businesses in other countries.
Sorry, Regular Tea, I’m just not that into you. You can tempt me with your gorgeous packaging and your delicate scent, but you just don’t bring the right texture and mouthfeel to the table…Bhakti Chai…Now this was Tea with a capital B! Not only is Bhakti Chai worthy of an invitation home for the holidays, it inspires soft purrs and heart-warming joy. On certain days you may even recall the line “I’ll have what she’s having” from When Harry Met Sally. And I’m not alone in my devotion-bordering-on-obsession. For thousands of loyal fans, Bhakti Chai has become part of who we are. And this, my friends, is the key to brilliant and successful brands. Read more…
The desert heat beams down upon your shoulders in a blaze of loving fury, you have danced and laughed and done yoga, spent an afternoon singing devotional hymns of kirtan, on your lips in your mouth the evidence… suddenly there it beams zeeee – an aura of gold, blue and red flashes calling you in…mouthwatering you follow the bliss to the goddess in the tent, and there in her hand.. The evidence… that you are not in fact dreaming this up…there in her hands is a spicy euphoric wonderland. Without another thought you reach for it, and hand her the few dollars which you question…could something this amazing be this available? But before anyone can change their mind or the mirage disappears, you have indulged. You have taken the sweet and savory sips of the Chai of the Bhakti Chai and your thirst has been quenched, you now understand devotion.
These three tea brands walk the talk by making giving back part of their core missions. For these businesses, it’s not just about selling tea but also about positively touching people’s lives and building a better future.
Brook Eddy, the founder of Boulder’s Bhakti Chai, has had her eye on Expo West for a while, but waited until this year to pull the trigger.
“I think we could’ve gone out (in past years), but it just felt a little premature,” she said. “We didn’t have something that was widely distributed … I just wanted to be able to have more things in line.”
Now that Bhakti Chai has launched its ready-to-drink concentrated chai and grown its distribution, Eddy knew that this year would be the time to go. Expo West, she said, could be the launching pad her brand needs.
Brook Eddy went to India looking for inspiration. She got it, just in a different way than she expected. In India, Eddy fell in love with chai – spicy, sweetened tea served with milk – and today her Colorado-based Bhakti Chai is approaching $2 million in sales and Bon Appetit magazine namechecked Bhakti in naming Boulder America’s Foodiest Town in 2010. The path to tea mogul was challenging and unexpected.
From being made on a stove at her home in Nederland, to making 500,000 gallons a year, it’s all happened in just 5 years. Bhakti Chai has seen revenues double annually, and now they are projecting 6-million dollars in revenue this year. They order ingredients from all over the world – ginger from Peru, tea from India, spices from everywhere – and then brew & bottle their Chai products in Longmont.
In only her second year of business, Eddy began donating money to nonprofit organizations that empower and educate women. In 2010, Bhakti, which uses sustainable packaging as well as organic and fair- trade ingredients, contributed $23,000 to nonprofits. This year, Eddy plans to give back 15% of income to charitable organizations.
Tax breaks for angel investors have cropped up in recent years in about two dozen states as a means of stimulating job growth. But the effectiveness of the incentives-which range from breaks on 15% of funding in Colorado to 100% in Hawaii-are coming under greater scrutiny, particularly as states face budget pressure.
In our second episode of HomeGrown: Exhibitor Profiles, we meet Brook Eddy, founder of Bhakti Chai, based out of Boulder, CO. Heather Smith asks about the story of Bhakti Chai and how preparations are going for their first year at Expo West.
Must be something in the Eldorado Natural Spring Water: Just look at the list of household-name, innovative, healthy-gourmet companies started or based here: Celestial Seasonings, Bhakti Chai, Silk, Horizon, Seth Ellis Chocolatier, Justin’s, and more. And we’re among the towns chosen by Ann Cooper—America’s Jamie Oliver—to pilot salad bars and other healthy foods in public-school cafeterias, drawing in Boulder chefs like Bradford Heap of Salt bistro to cook for kids.
As a fast-growing company, Bhakti Chai will continue to expand in the coming year with more hiring and greater distribution, said owner Brook Eddy, adding that the new location is central to the company’s focus.
Here’s the magic secret about trends and branding: If you have the foresight or good fortune to tap into a strong trend and establish your brand early, you’re likely to strike pay dirt. This is especially true when the name of your company is the name of the trend, as with Bhakti Chai, the “Starbucks®” drink of the Yoga community.
To get shop owners to put the product on the menu board, Bhakti needed a way to differentiate, so it offered inexpensive purchase materials for the register and counter areas. These were vital in educating consumers about the product. These little counter signs changed the way people ordered chai in Colorado by getting them to ask for the product by name.
During a tough financial period, entrepreneur Brook Eddy recalls having her mailman on speed dial, because she was desperate to get her hands on any outstanding checks from clients. This year her business is set to reach nearly $2 million in sales and is pushing toward national distribution for its spicy tea drinks.
The recipe for Bhakti Chai was created almost entirely out of necessity. Company founder and CEO Brook Eddy had returned home to Boulder after a months-long spiritual trip to India (where the tea is the caffeinated drink of choice), and she couldn’t find anyone who knew how to make a proper, Indian-style chai.
When Brook Eddy first came to Mumbai in 2002 to study the spiritual movement Swadhayay, which promotes devotion through social action, “chai” was something she happily sipped along her travels across India. But one day, says Eddy, she was served something called masala chai or “special” chai. “It really awoke my mind and taste buds. I love spices and this spice elixir spoke to my constitution, and seemed to nudge and inspire me,” says this post-graduate in social policy and non-profit management from the University of Michigan.
It turns out that, along with having fit, smart, and eco-conscious citizens, Boulder is home to a number of innovative food companies (Celestial Seasonings, Izze Beverage Company, and Bhakti Chai), several top-tier restaurants, and one of the best farmers’ markets in the country.
BOULDER, CO (June 21, 2010) — From crushed red hots and habanero peppers, to chipotle chocolate and sweet barbecue – ice cream parlors across the country are playing around with spice in ice cream. While spicy foods are believed to cool the body during hot weather, Bhakti Chai wanted to sweeten the burn with a cool and spicy treat.
Bhakti Chai, a micro-brewed, fresh-pressed ginger masala chai tea company, has released a limited edition version of its chai: BARACKTI Chai, in honor of a certain someone who was just inaugurated. Brook Eddy, founder and owner of the Boulder-based company, simply added a shot of AA+ Kenyan coffee to the chai concentrate to honor Obama’s roots from Kenya.