Waka Coffee & Tea secures US$725,000 investment from industry investors
Waka Coffee & Tea, an emerging instant coffee and tea company, closed a US$725,000 pre-seed round from industry veterans and strategic investors to accelerate its growth and innovation in the multibillion-dollar categories. With strong sales and customer response to date, the brand is launching three new products as well as refreshing its design and packaging. This first round of outside investment will allow Waka to introduce more new products, build its team, and expand into new sales channels.
Founded in late 2018 by entrepreneur David Kovalevski, Waka is on a mission to place its mark on the instant coffee and tea categories through better quality products, more eco-friendly packaging, and improved flavours. The company has become one of the most recognised newcomers in the instant coffee and instant tea categories and one of the categories’ best sellers on Amazon, according to the company. In addition, the brand recently expanded into physical retail with Central Market in Texas and launched internationally with iHerb.
“While instant coffee remains very popular around the world, most consumers in the U.S. have only interacted with legacy brands in the space that often pale in comparison to large specialty and premium coffee retailers. This presents an incredible opportunity for Waka to create a strong connection with consumers who are looking for a viable option in the instant coffee and tea categories, and we are already seeing massive spikes in interest and adoption for home, office, and on-the-go,” said founder David Kovalevski. “Preferences are shifting as new and younger demographics try instant coffee and tea products for the first time due to viral social media trends like whipped coffee and loaded teas, both of which use either instant coffee or instant tea. We are inspired by the potential application of our products and are encouraged by our consumer survey findings showing a willingness to try Waka instant products vs. more traditional brands.”
Several CPG veterans and marketing leaders participated in the pre-seed round, including former Starbucks and PepsiCo executives, Joe Canterbury and Craig Musgrove, who both joined Waka as board advisors, as well as Bee Cave Capital, Chaucer Global, Scott Jensen (founder and CEO at Rhythm Superfoods), Mark Turner (CEO at HeatGen), Steven Kalifowitz (chief marketing officer at Crypto.com), and Sunil Desai (head of global brand marketing at Shopify).
“Coming from one of the biggest coffee companies in the world, I believe Waka has all the right ingredients and momentum to become one of the leaders in the instant space. I couldn’t be more excited to support them on their journey,” added Canterbury.
In addition to its fundraise, Waka is releasing three new instant coffee roasts and origins: Ethiopian Dark Roast, Ethiopian Light Roast and Papua New Guinean Medium Roast. All products will have single-serve and bulk bag options and will become available to order across all of Waka’s online sales channels by the end of March.
Waka is also unveiling new brand identity and packaging. “Our new design is playful, simple and approachable – just like the brand we are building,” concluded Kovalevski.