Being a coffee lover is often as frustrating as it is exhilarating.
My co-founder Sumi and I started YES PLZ to help change this, and we're asking you to join with us as we take our next step.
Introducing "The Mix"
Focusing all our experiences and our culinary ambitions into creating a single great product, we’re thrilled to introduce “The Mix”: an ever-evolving no-holds-barred, no-corners-cut blend of the best sourced beans, roasted with care, and delivered fresh to your door.
The origins of “The Mix” begin with the project we did for Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson’s revolutionary fast food start-up LocoL. The challenge was to figure out how to make great coffee work at just $1 a cup, and we found that by being clever and controlling for waste, we could bring exceptionally crafted hot and cold coffee drinks to people at scale, without skimping on the quality of beans in our blend.
That $1 cup was a big hit and caused a bigger stir than we could’ve anticipated. It challenged assumptions about what contexts great coffee could thrive in. It sparked a debate about the limitations of our third wave coffee movement's strategies (which I’ve long advocated) to move coffee drinkers toward paying higher prices to support higher quality, more sustainable coffee—against the need to reach a broader audience beyond the exclusionary, validation-seeking culinary burlesque that characterizes a lot of today’s high-end coffee bars.
One of our conceits with “The Mix” is the simultaneously heretical-sounding yet obvious-seeming idea that there’s almost no single origin coffee that couldn’t be made even better with a judicious bit of blending. We recently shared a small prototype batch with a handful of friends and beta testers which included a mini manifesto:
Great coffee, great price, your pace
We’ll roast a new iteration of “The Mix” each week, so you’ll be able to choose to get a box shipped weekly, fortnightly, every third week, monthly, or just whenever you need it. Each shipment will be 12 ounces (340g), simply packaged with our awesome newsletter and delivered fresh to your door.
Our target price is going to be just $15 a box, shipped within the US. Additional charges will apply to international shipping.
Who We Are
Tony "Tonx" Konecny. Tony fell into coffee first as a barista and then head roaster at Seattle’s seminal Victrola Coffee. In 2006 he went on to bend the coffeebar genre as part of Intelligentsia’s Los Angeles project. One of the early weirdos in what has come to be known as coffee’s Third Wave movement, he holds the dubious distinction of being among the first coffee bloggers, for which he sincerely apologizes. In 2011, frustrated with how the top roasting companies focused more on their baristas and selling beverages than in giving honest footholds for would-be coffee connoisseurs, he started Tonx Coffee. It pioneered a direct to consumer subscription service, sourcing great coffees from around the world and empowering coffee lovers to brew stuff at home that could rival the best cafes. In 2014 Tonx Coffee was acquired by Blue Bottle Coffee becoming the Blue Bottle at Home service. Tony’s itch for finding new on ramps for getting people into coffee remained, leading him deeper into a still-unfinished book project and the $1 coffee project for LocoL.
Sumi Ali. After a few years working as a barista, Sumi opened his first coffee bar, Condesa, while still a teenager in Atlanta’s nascent coffee scene. He moved to Los Angeles to work for Intelligentsia where his exceptional barista skills and strong sensibilities about hospitality led to him being poached as the first barista at the landmark SQIRL/G&B Coffee pop-up that spawned several local culinary empires. His excellent palate for coffee and his skills as an auto and motorcycle mechanic led to him get poached again, this time to join the roasting team at Tonx Coffee as it scaled up. He went on to learn the business of green coffee importing with Thrive Farmers (the company behind Chick-fil-A’s brews) and consulted for a number of roasteries. Sumi was the brains and the boots on the ground behind LocoL’s successful coffee program and he’s one of the most talented roasters we’ve ever met (but don’t tell him that or it’ll go to his head).
Ryan Brown. Tonx Coffee alumni Ryan will be joining us as our green coffee advisor. Ryan was instrumental in the success of Tonx Coffee and Blue Bottle at Home, bringing his experience working with coffee producers around the globe and as a coffee buyer for Ritual Roasters and Stumptown Coffee. He is the author of the recent book Dear Coffee Buyer.
Amy Marie Slocum. Amy will be the Editor of our we-can’t-wait-to-show-it-to-you awesome newsletter. She previously worked at Flaunt Magazine as Managing Editor and served as the Content and Social Media Editor for Need Supply Co. She spent over a decade in the food service industry before that, training as a barista under Western Barista Champ Jared Truby and managing the farm-to-glass cocktail bar Orbit Room in San Francisco.
Sean U’Ren. Sean makes movies, writes movies, and occasionally animal poetry. He helped us slap together this Kickstarter video and was the creative force for the "Just Add Water" video series for Tonx Coffee. Expect to see some fun things from Sean!
Thom Meredith and Brad Klemmer—Kley.co. Thom and Brad are bringing their digital design genius to bear on the YES PLZ web project.
Why we need your help
We want to build a company that’s for our customers and our culinary interests, not just some investment fund’s bottom line. Through this campaign we can gauge and engage interest, and right-size our inventories from the jump. No overcommitting on green coffees and having them lying around in our warehouse before we can roast them, compromising “The Mix”; and no under-committing and then scrambling for 2nd tier ingredients to fill an unexpected demand.
We want your help to make "The Mix" the best possible blend it can be!
Risks and challenges
The truth is we have a lot of unfair advantages. We’ve been in the business for a long time, have built up a lot of good will with suppliers and allies, and have stepped on most of the rakes and sussed out the cheat codes.
We’re taking some risks by offering “The Mix” at a low price while not compromising on the quality of green coffees we source. We’re going to be working with lower profit margins than other coffee companies and that means foregoing a lot of the advertising and aggressive digital marketing you see from other brands (you’re welcome). We believe—partially from idealism, partially from experience—that word-of-mouth and better product can win the day. And if not “win the day,” at least keep us viable enough to make a good living doing what we love.
We hope you'll give us a try. Great coffee should be for everyone!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)