Toms Expands One-For-One Business Model To Include Coffee, Clean Water

coffeeIf you’re familiar with Toms Shoes, you know that for every pair of shoes purchased from the company, it provides a pair for needy children. So what about the company’s newest venture into coffee? For every bag of coffee purchased the company will donate a bag of grounds to the caffeine-deprived? Not quite.

Toms founder Blake Mycoskie recently announced at South By Southwest that the company has ventured into the coffee business. Sales from the product will be used to provide clean water for cooking, drinking and other sanitation uses to the estimated 2 billion people who don’t have access to such essentials, the New York Times reports.

Every blue and white bag of Toms Roasting Company coffee sold will provide financing for a week’s worth of clean water for one person. For every cup of coffee purchased at a Toms Cafe, which opened its first location in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, a person will receive clean water for one day.

“The No. 1 ingredient in making coffee is water, and coffee is often grown in places where clean water is scarce,” Mycoskie says.

Toms coffee, which will come in a variety of roasts, will be grown by small farms in Guatemala, Malawi, Peru, Rwanda and Honduras.

The idea to expand the one-on-one model, which already includes Toms eyewear, came after the company was criticized for doing little to address the actual issues of poverty.

“There are two things you need to alleviate poverty: education and jobs,” Mycoskie tells the Times.

In the new venture, Toms will work with Water for People, a nonprofit that works to develop sustainable water systems around the world, to provide sanitation and hygiene education. Additional projects with the nonprofit could include building tanks to collect rainwater and developing piping systems to get water to hard-to-reach places.

Founded in 2006, Toms has provided more than 10 million pairs of shoes to poor children. Since expanding into eyewear, the company has donated nearly 200,000 pairs of glasses for those in need.

Toms coffee can be purchased by the cup at Toms Cafe in Austin and the Venice, CA, Toms retail store. Bags of coffee can be found at Whole Foods and Toms.com.

Turning Coffee Into Water To Expand Business Model [New York Times]