Saturday, June 27, 2009

A neighboring Republic

I'm working my way through an interesting book about the formation of the company and brand Republic of Tea.

Nearly a blog of sorts, the book is literally comprised of the correspondence (faxes - a technology that must please go away now) between the collaborators, a finely-aged entrepreneur who built and sold Banana Republic and a young, energized business-hippie. I met the hippie in a business meeting. He's still an interesting guy, but not so much the youngest anymore.

Incidentally, I believe these kind of hippies are called Ecopreneurs now. So says the friend of mine who wrote another book Build a Green Small Business (I'm such a bookworm today - spectacular). And yes, my author friend is definitely a modern hippie, right down to the day he disappeared on the Appalachian Trail and came back as Rip Van Winkle. He did eventually buy a razor.

Part of the beauty in the eponymous Republic of Tea book is the honest passion these guys have for their product -- to their mind their calling -- to improve and spread the word about tea. I do understand. I certainly admire the passion. But the person who loves tea tends to do so with an audible slight towards those of us married to a darker lover.

As one of the authors starts off:

Fueled by coffee, life moved very rapidly for me in that other Republic, so fast that I began to sense I was missing something quite grand along the way. The sensation grew until I could bear it no longer. I was compelled to defect. Fleeing the race-to-nowhere that had been my life, I tasted the joys of existence in a new way - sip by sip rather than gulp by gulp.

I hear you. It's about pace and appreciation. And quality. Most of all quality. But is coffee so incapable of that? Sure, coffee and coffee savants are fused with a certain kineticism that makes tea drinkers uncomfortable. And I can't promise to french press oily beans every morning -- though oh so nice when I can. But to say that we cafiends don't appreciate quality is simply flawed and short-sighted in its own right. Like a ceviche fan disparaging an aged prime rib.

Frankly, it sounds like they were drinking bad coffee too. Bummer. That too can be mended.

So I take umbrage sirs. But I do enjoy your book. And it seems that you've left a market of premium beverage lovers unserved by your fanaticism for leaves alone. Perhaps it's time for me to explore development of a republic of beans.


  1. you-maka-me-laugh! It's like your coffee is yo mamma! I hear you. I won't talk about yo mamma. Just kidding. That just brought out the gansta character. I think he must be a passionate person; an all or nothing person and in that case, moderation is an impossible concept for him to grasp. I'm trying to find another way for him to reword his explaination of his own caffeine addiction experience, but I think he did okay by using a more "I" point of view instead of accusing ALL coffee drinkers of his personal misuse of the substance. I think he was just incapapble of self restraint and personally needed a less addictive substance and in that case, I salute him for his decission to "defect." I for the most part sip my coffee and avoid the buzz of caffiene while enjoying the flavors of the coffee. It's not an impossible task for everyone... just for him and his passionate self.

    Good discussion topic! Very fun and funny. Thanks. I enjoyed it.

  2. Excellent, thanks! Now I imagine this gansta-hippie-business tycoon, wearing his old school Banana Republic and longing for the days when he could get totally jazzed off a zesty pot of joe. He can't go back of course. That's the problem with an escape to moral high ground (or moral high tea)... you can't enjoy the sweet fruit of addiction again without feeling like you've soiled yourself. Or so I assume... not like I'm going to put down the mug long enough to find out.