Wise Monkey
Courtesy of Wize Monkey

Coffee Leaf Tea Is Coming and We're Buzzed Already

Vancouver-based Wize Monkey has a different way to (slightly) caffeinate us

Coffee leaf tea — brewed like an herbal tea from coffee leaves that are hand-crafted with fermentation methods and roasted — isn't a new thing. It's been consumed for centuries in Ethiopia (considered the birthplace of coffee) and Sumatra, and The New York Times wrote about it back in 2012. The first big commercial push for the product in the U.S., however, is coming in the next few weeks from a Vancouver-based startup called Wize Monkey.

The product, currently sold in Canada and arriving soon at Sprouts Farmers Markets in 15 states and at Whole Foods Markets in Northern California, among other outlets, comes in four flavors besides a straightforward original version: Earl Grey, Jasmine, Minty Marvel, and Mango Party — all of them packaged in small foil envelopes that resemble condom wrappers.

Courtesy of Wize Monkey

According to Caffeine Informer, presumably referring to the original offering, "If black tea and coffee had a baby, it would taste like Coffee Leaf Tea." The site also reports that the brew contains 20 milligrams of caffeine per eight-ounce cup, compared with 25 milligrams for a similar serving of conventional tea and 91 milligrams for the same dose of coffee, so it's not a beverage you'd sip to get a jolt. What you would get, however, according to Wize Monkey at least, is a good dose of antioxidants "featuring a rare polyphenol named mangiferin."

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Wize Monkey was founded by Max Rivest and Arnaud Petitvallet, based on a class project they did while pursuing master’s degrees in international business at Kedge Business School in Bordeaux. The company concentrates its efforts in Nicaragua, working with local coffee farmers — including their partner, agronomist Enrique Ferrufino, himself a third-generation grower — to provide year-round employment to workers who would otherwise have full-time jobs only during the annual three-month harvest season. Wize Monkey's mission, according to its website, is "To break the poverty cycle in coffee communities by harvesting a tasty, healthy, and sustainable product."