Our Story

We Were Tired...

The founders of JavaZen bonded over college drinking... But not the way you think! Our beverage of choice in college was mostly coffee or tea. (Chamomile-pong anyone? Coffee shots?) As students at University of Maryland, we knew we needed tons of energy to keep up with classes, work, and fun. But what made us different is that we wanted to get our energy in a healthy way.

The Problem

At first, COFFEE was a natural choice. But it came with side-effects: Jitters if we drank too much. The ill-timed crashes that left us more sluggish than before. And the acidic, bitter taste – especially after three mugs – was hard to swallow. And while coffee has a massive amount of antioxidants, it's not exactly packed with nutrition. If gulping down four cups makes you too full to enjoy a superfood smoothie or actual food, that's a problem! Sure, we loved the incredible buzz and complex, robust flavor in moderation and still do. But for energy purposes, coffee wasn't much more than a quick fix. It failed to provide a healthy, balanced lift. For that, we needed tea. TEA didn't have the rocket-fuel effect of coffee. But its rejuvenating qualities and nutritional benefits were impressive. Tea made us feel better in mind, body, and spirit. The only problem with tea is that it can't get you out of bed at 6 am. It can't perk you up for a party or three. It can't help you cram for a final exam. Coffee has crazy energy, but tea is healthier and comes in a variety of flavors. So which should we drink, and when? Therein lies the infamous "coffee/tea dilemma." The three of us would discuss and debate this topic endlessly. It was an ongoing theme in our friendship.

The Solution

Eric brought to the conversation his fanatic love for coffee. Aaron brought a holistic-health-guru perspective. Ryan brought an infectious personality that energized us more than caffeine. It carried a vibe that made us feel like anything was possible. (And it was!) Eric, the coffee fanatic, drank too much coffee. We’re talking obscene amounts coffee. His kitchen overflowed with coffee gadgets and accessories. He even roasted his own beans. Yep, he's that guy.  But after too many jitters and crashes, Eric wondered if maybe there was a better way to get energy that wouldn’t take such a toll on him, proving that even coffee fanatics have their limits. Aaron, the de facto health coach, told Eric, "Stop over-caffeinating!” He pointed out that too much caffeine was causing Eric to have slow mornings and fluctuating energy levels.  Upon Aaron's insistence, Eric used tea as an occasional substitute. He'd never completely give up coffee, but he followed Aaron's advice and felt better. Maybe you're thinking, "Hm, I'm just like Eric." A coffee aficionado who will never give up the robust flavor and sublime buzz. And maybe you've accepted the drawbacks, the jitters, the crashes, the acidity, as a fair trade. (No pun intended.) And yet, you also appreciate the benefits of tea on occasion.  If that’s you, you're why we created JavaZen! JavaZen is a one-of-a-kind hybrid that combines the energy of coffee with the health and flavor benefits of tea, in one amazing beverage that's the best of both worlds.

The Growth Curve

And since you’re thinking it, we’ll just come out and say it: getting the taste right was NOT as simple as dropping a tea bag into a cup of coffee. (We tried. Yuck.)  It took a tremendous amount of professional-grade blending of coffees, teas, and superfoods to get it right.  Plus, it also took a professional-grade Ryan.  See, to make sure our blend appealed to everyone, Ryan, our third musketeer/roommate, would be the key.  Ryan never liked coffee or tea and was outspoken about it. All three of us knew that if our blend passed the Ryan test, we'd be onto something huge, monumental, world-changing! After tons of trial and error, we finally cracked the code. JavaZen was born. It supplied the mega-buzz Eric wanted, from impeccable coffee beans roasted to perfection. (Java!) The health aspects and pure, gourmet tea energies that Aaron required. (Zen!) And a complex but approachable Ryan-approved taste that would appeal to everyone. (JavaZen!) Before celebrating, we knew we needed to test drive JavaZen in a big way. We figured that doling it out for free at a 36-hour coding hackathon on campus would do the trick. So that’s what we did. We loaded up a large beverage dispenser and JavaZen'd overworked hackers for 36 hours.  We received tons of compliments. JavaZen kept everyone sharp and balanced. No jitters, no crash. All thanks to Aaron's idea to add L-Theanine, an amino acid that augments yet subdues the effects of caffeine. Many described the unique feeling as "calm power."  We were off to the races. The next morning, College Park Farmers Market invited us to sell JavaZen that weekend.  Yay! But also...yikes!  We didn’t have labels or anything. Of course, Ryan said, "No worries, we got this." That night we used Microsoft Publisher to make some funky looking bags. Ryan stayed up all night (powered by JavaZen) applying the stickers to stock pouches.  We finished in time, and at the Farmers Market, JavaZen absolutely crushed it.  Coming off that victory, we entered a business plan competition at UMD. There, we secured initial seed funding to launch JavaZen as a business. We were finally on our way to solving the coffee/tea dilemma for the entire world. Pretty soon, JavaZen found its way to shelves of local stores. Meanwhile, we continued to improve the product and packaging and added two new flavors. Store owners and customers agreed, JavaZen stood alone as a whole new product category, one that can impact over a billion people in a healthy way, every single day. 

Since then, JavaZen has been featured in The Washington Post, Eat this, Not That!, MarketWatch, ABC, CNBC. JavaZen won the 2015 D.C. Startup of the Year Award, and the $80,000 Grand Prize at the 2016 Cupid's Cup Entrepreneurship Competition hosted by Kevin Plank, Founder and CEO of Under Armour. Plus, JavaZen was voted one of the "Top Ten Healthiest Beverages In Grocery Stores" for 2016 by Clean Eating Magazine. We'll drink to that!  But not how you think.  (JavaZen pong anyone?)

Direct Trade

When it comes to the quality of our coffee, we like to take the direct route at Javazen. The beans for our revitalizing coffee come directly from farmers, no shortcuts, no middle-men. This is called "Direct Trade". This form of the coffee trade brings farmers and roasters at a table. Of which both benefit - and of course, you!

Eric Golman
Eric Golman
Chief Energy Officer (CEO)
Aaron Wallach
Aaron Wallach
Chief Wellness Officer
Ryan Schyeler
Ryan Schueler
Chief Relationship Officer