A couple of years ago Natalia traveled to her family’s homeland, Colombia. It was their first trip home in over 15 years and their entire visit was full of excitement, wonder and discovery. The glaring juxtaposition of Miami’s hustling, flat tropical environment to Colombia’s untouched stretches of green farm land and jagged mountains was truly astonishing.
While exploring a tiny neighborhood food store next to the city’s largest building, it’s church, Natalia found a couple of small cardboard boxes jammed on the bottom shelf. The boxes had no windows to peek through but said: “Panela en Cubos” and “Cafe en Cubos.”
Natalia’s infatuation with coffee started at the age of four, where a Montessori school teacher would sneak a tiny cup of Cuban coffee through the gate during recess. Her teacher was on her lunch break, sitting on the sidewalk opposite of the playground with tiny cups of Cuban coffee and a Media Noche sandwich. Natalia was supposed to be out playing, which she did, but only after she passed by the fence…
“Coffee in Cubes- Instant Colombian Coffee sweetened with Panela brown sugar”
It wasn’t until she came back home to her hectic university life that using the cubes really got her thinking. Her daily latte was a ritual that she cherished. What she didn’t like was the crazy line that formed anytime class switched and the subsequent tardiness. It was an exam in class that made her doubt the long line and bring her cubes along to school. She slipped into the philosophy department and filled a cup with hot water from the water dispenser, dropped two cubes in and stirred. It was then that she noticed that she LOVED these cubes.
The ability to market a healthier, easier alternative to enjoying coffee drove her towards creating Jiva. She quickly researched food providers and researched their backgrounds; both in their use of quality ingredients and the use of the highest grade free trade coffee beans available. Before long Jiva was able to form great friendships with families across Colombia that cultivate sugar cane and high quality Colombian coffee.
Years later Jiva’s success has brought blessings and difficulties, pushing manufacturing to higher rates revealed problems in Jiva’s Colombian production abilities, and after a couple of years of trying to make it work it became clear Jiva had to move on in order to survive. After a year of searching Jiva found its perfect partner; a team that was enthusiastic about learning our process, delighted by Colombian culture but most importantly, just as in love with our cubes as we are.
During all of 2016 both teams traveled to Colombia, imported machinery, and established the required paperwork and rights to import our ingredients. The endeavor required re-establishing a manufacturing plan for a product that had never left Colombia and making sure that all of the cultural expertise came along with it.
The plan called for a lot of stress, lots of learning and many, many rounds of testing. It was a hard task but we were all up for it.
It wasn’t until late February 2017 that the first batch of USA MADE Jiva Cubes arrived to Miami. The new formula changes boasted stronger coffee, less calories and double the servings per box. Jiva’s move improved the cubes, manufacturing and pricing all at once and we are very thankful to our new family in Newnan, Georgia and all of our patient Cubistas for being there for us the entire time.
Thanks for checking us out! We hope our cubes make it into your cups soon.
Natalia Rodriguez & Allen Gomberg