On Tuesday at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie announced the launch of TOMS Roasting Company, and the grand opening of its first location, in Austin.
“We’re super excited about it. It allows us to enter a totally new industry and allows us to really work on economic development impact, as well as being able to give water to people around the world — something I’ve been passionate about for a long time,” Mycoskie told USA Today.
This is TOMS’ third “one for one” product — already making impacts with its shoes (of which TOMS expects to have donated 20 million pairs by the end of 2014) and eyewear (300,000 pairs donated), sales of TOMS Coffee will help improve access to clean water in the countries from which the company sources its beans: Every cup purchased will provide a day’s worth of clean water; for every bag, a week’s worth.
Mycoskie said using the blue and white motif from the TOMS logo for the coffee cups was more than just about brand recognition.
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“I really wanted to focus on the blue for the water. So when someone’s walking around … and they say, ‘wow, TOMS is doing coffee,’ they’ll be reminded to tell the story that, it’s not that we’re just doing coffee and creating economic development — we’re actually investing in clean water systems in the countries where the coffee comes from. So the blue cup is a really important part of the messaging for the brand.”
While all of the beans are roasted Stateside, the inaugural blends come from Rwanda, Malawi, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru, as well as a “Carpe Diem” espresso made from a blend of beans from both Rwanda and Guatemala.
TOMS plans to work with Water For People, a nonprofit group that works to develop sustainable water systems around the world, according to the New York Times. The group could use financing from TOMS coffee to build tanks to collect rainwater or develop piping systems to get water from faraway places to people in need. TOMS Roasting Company shops will initially appear in South Korea, Dubai, Amsterdam and other international locations, with the first shops in the US in Austin, New York City and Portland, Ore., the paper said.
TOMS is just the latest brand to direct its efforts and resources to increasing access to clean water for those in need around the world — last spring, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation joined forces with WaterAid to increase accessibility to safe drinking water for one of the poorest suburbs of Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou and in two rural communities in southern Ethiopia. And last month, H&M announced it will donate $9.3 million toward its own global partnership with WaterAid aimed at improving the health, education and future prospects of students by delivering safe water, sanitation and hygiene education programs in schools throughout the developing world.
In November, Mycoskie launched the TOMS Marketplace, which features a curated collection of over 200 socially conscious products from 30 different companies, each with a meaningful story and an ethos and commitment matching TOMS’ to giving to those in need, spanning a wide range of causes and geographic areas of impact.