For many people, the coffee shop is high up on the ever-growing list of previously daily conveniences and rituals you now miss, thanks to the necessity of social distancing and shelter-at-home orders.
A perfect espresso. A soothing latte.
Even if they spelled your name wrong on the cup.
After a month of making do by making your own at home, you’d gladly take a cup with “Kevin” scrawled across it.
It is into this caffeinated void that a new kind of coffee company called Jot is launching—promising a better-tasting, perfect cup delivered like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
A direct-to-consumer company, Jot sources beans from organic, fair-trade farms, and its brew is concentrated “Ultra Coffee”—20 times more concentrated than regular coffee—and sold in 200 ml glass bottles, which makes up to 14 cups, ladled out one Just One Tablespoon at a time (Jot, get it?).
Jot did not plan to introduce itself to the world during a global pandemic, but given the disruption many are finding with their daily coffee rituals—whether that’s missing the coffee shop, sick of brewing mediocre cups at home, or tired of cleaning up the mess left behind by their countertop barista appliances—there may never be a better time to drop a completely new kind of coffee.
The new company is led by CEO Andrew Gordon and chief product officer Palo Hawken, both seasoned consumer packaged goods vets (Gordon with Square Organics and Hawken with Rebbl beverages). The idea began with Hawken, who was researching alternative ready-to-drink coffee options that struck the right balance between concentration and flavor, without the cost of shipping unreasonable volumes of liquid. Freeze-dried coffee was the right concentration and volume, but—surprise!—failed the taste test. Other, better-tasting options tipped the liquid volume scales but cost way too much to ship.
After experimenting with different brewing processes, Hawken arrived at what he calls “a reverse gravitational extraction” technique that’s intentionally slow and precise. “You don’t know what you don’t know is good and not good about your coffee until you taste coffee that removes what has been dragging it down,” says Hawken.
When he got Gordon to taste the results early last year, his cofounder was all in. “You’ve got something here that’s both efficient from a cost and a resource standpoint, but I think perhaps what’s even more interesting is that you have something in a liquid format but due to the concentration of this product, we don’t actually have to do anything to it,” says Gordon. “We don’t have to heat-treat it, we don’t have to pasteurize it in order for it to be shelf-stable. So we can actually distribute this thing at ambient temperatures, and it retains 100% of its quality and freshness. When you marry those things together, you’re not shipping with ice, you’re not shipping with dry ice, you’re not shipping a bunch of water weight. It just was this real aha moment for the two of us.”
Combine that with Jot’s claim of delivering a world-class cup of coffee in seconds, and both Gordon and Hawken see the opportunity right now to wedge Jot into your coffee routines but not take them over. If you drink three or four cups of coffee a day, they see Jot’s potential to be one of them. “We aren’t coming in on day one trying to get you to completely overhaul your coffee ritual,” says Gordon. “You might roll out of bed and Jot’s kind of the thing that you have before you commit to doing your 15- to 20-minute pour-over. Or you might have it when you’re running out the door.”
Well, maybe not running out the door at the moment.
But as the habit of online grocery shopping grows, along with any frustration with homemade options, if coffee drinkers were ever open to trying something new like Jot, it’s now.
“Until now, the correct form factor hasn’t really existed for coffee to explode online,” says Gordon. “I think that what’s happening in the world right now is certainly going to add some fuel to that fire.”