Rachel Sklar, founder of Pit Vidura (Batch XI), was recently invited to talk at the UN International Trade Centre for their Accelerate 2030 event. Rachel was 1 of 5 social entrepreneurs worldwide selected by UNDP and Impact Hub invited to present their work to various UN agencies and Swiss investors.
COBA is a coffee startup that is trying to solve many of the inefficiencies in coffee consumption. Their current product is a coffee bar which resembles a chocolate bar in terms of taste and texture. Each bar contains the caffeine equivalent of 1 cup of coffee.
Their mission is to be ethical and mindful about where coffee comes from and let people feel good about what they’re consuming.
Q: How did you come up with the idea to create a bar?
Josh: “Coffee takes 5–6 years to grow in South America. Farmers in Ecuador check the crop every day to make sure the product is perfect and the process is very labor intensive. After the beans arrive in the US, they get roasted and ground up into a drink. Most people don’t know that the coffee grounds thrown out after this process have almost 80% of the caffeine content from the bean. After noticing how inefficient coffee consumption is right now, we wanted to come up with a product that would utilize the full bean.”
Q: “How did you source the ingredients for the bar?
Josh: “Peter had some connections in South America. Recently, he went down to Ecuador and met with direct trade coffee farmers. These farmers aren’t big enough to afford certifications, memberships, and fees that bigger entities can pay for. We wanted to develop personal relationships with these farmers because it gives us a more human element to the process. We aren’t just helping our customers who buy the bar, we’re also helping the smaller farmers.”
Q: Why is this the best way to consume coffee?
Josh: “The key distinction is that the bar is solid versus drinking a cup of coffee, which is how coffee is usually consumed. Having a bar solves many problems. It’s easier to carry, takes up less space, and utilizes the whole coffee bean.”
Q: What is your progress in Berkeley, so far?
Josh: “We had a public crowdfunding campaign when we joined FreeV in September. We were 100% funded in 24 hours. We wanted to focus on Berkeley first because we’re leveraging our personal connections and the Berkeley community to establish a foothold here as our ‘home base’. Since then, we were able to create a second product (COBA Dark) and build relationships with other food startups to set up a supply chain.”