The son of legendary late musician Bob Marley started a coffee company in 2009 with only 52 acres of farmland in Jamaica and a stern warning to his farmers against using pesticides.
“I said to them, ‘If you use any chemicals on this property, I will come and cut every tree down and you won’t have a farm,'” Rohan Marley, the founder and chairman of Marley Coffee, told Business Insider in an interview.
Today, Marley Coffee is sold in thousands of stores worldwide. In North America, its biggest market, more than 8,800 stores will sell Marley Coffee this year, up from 300 stores a year ago, according to CEO Brent Toevs.
The company is still small, however, with revenue of just $US4.6 million in the nine months ending Oct. 31, 2013. That’s up from $US1.4 million during the same period a year earlier.
Marley attributes the company’s recent growth to its sustainable farming practices, which he says were inspired by his father and his Rastafarian beliefs.
“I was truly inspired by a vision that came into my mind as the son of Bob Marley,” he said. “I thought about how I could really encompass his message of peace, love and sustainability.”
He says that he didn’t inherit his father’s musical talents, so he wanted to find another way to honour him. His father grew up on a farm and often talked about wanting to retire on one, Marley said. Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36.
Today, the company continues to grow pesticide-free coffee under the “Jamaica Blue Mountain” label. It also sources sustainably grown coffee from sister farms in the Jamaican Blue Mountain region and from farms in Ethiopia and South America.
In the Jamaican city of Kingston, Marley Coffee is the largest employer.
“We’re more than just this brand that is trying to market some coffee,” Toevs said. “We are creating good lives for people who are helping to produce that product through sustainable farming. We’re really passionate about it.”
Many of the roasts use the names of Bob Marley songs, including “Get Up, Stand Up,” “Buffalo Soldier,” and “Simmer Down.”
The company also sells four kinds of single-serve coffee pods compatible with Keurig machines, and has plans to add another five flavours in the coming months, Toevs said. A line of Nespresso-friendly pods is also in the works, he said.
The coffee is sold in Whole Foods, Safeway, Kroger, Giant, Dean & Deluca, Vons, and other stores.
Here are some of the roasts:
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