One of my personal highlights at the New York and Los Angeles Coffee Festivals were getting to spend a little time away from coffee with the folks at Brooklyn's Dona Chai. We featured the company's spice-infused marshmallows that were on offer, paired with their warm turmeric and chai sippers. Hiding in the back of the booth, however, were sneak peeks at the company's newest offering: spice sodas.
I know, I know, this is technically a series on coffee design, but surely we could all use a break every once and a while and put the spotlight on coffee adjacent canned beverages, right? The colors really shine in this collection of drinks: colors of lemons, limes, and pink peppercorns pop on store shelves. We spoke with the founder of Dona Chai, Amy Rothstein, to find out more.
Tell us a bit about your company.
At Dona, we craft spice based tea concentrates and spice sodas. Our quality begins with our ingredients. We source spices from collectives across the world, paying attention to the place of origin, growing conditions, and end quality. Each spice is cupped to test for flavor profile, natural sweetness, and body. Our brewing process begins with whole spices that are ground fresh per batch. Then, our spices are slow steeped to build complexity. The result is a full-bodied and balanced drink.
We value sustainability. After our brewing process, all of our ingredients are composted locally.
When did Dona Spice Sodas debut?
Officially three weeks ago! Approximately the beginning of December (kinda weird timing for sodas—I know—but it will give us a chance to really get things in place for spring).
How long has this product been in development?
A year and a half! I first had the idea when we launched our turmeric concentrate. We brew our turmeric with pink peppercorn, and holy cow, this spice is crazy. #1 is beautiful in color, but #2 the flavor is nuts. It smells like skittles and has a bright, fruity, peppery, and smoky flavor. It’s so unique and no one is featuring this spice as a star player—I realized then that I wanted to showcase it and show everyone how amazing spices are.
Who designed the package?
Our designer for everything Zach Ruden.
Describe the look in your own words!
I love our cans because they are bright, poppy, and fun, but tie back into our concentrate line because of their simplicity and classy typography. Zach played with oversized text to create something really eye catching. Most brands use imagery/icons/shapes, and I love that we only have text. I think it’s so special that we were able to create such a unique look with typography alone.
How is the product made?
Our process shadows our concentrate line. We begin with whole spices, from all over the world. We grind them fresh, then slow steep them to develop flavor. Then, we strain, sweeten, carbonate, and can.
Where is the product made?
We brew in-house in Gowanus, Brooklyn. We’re working with a friend who has a canning line to help us package our product.
Where is it currently available?
Nationally via our website. Locally in NYC through cafes and grocery stores. We just began the sales process but already have a bunch of amazing partners. The feedback has been really exciting.
What's next for Dona Chai?
Take a breath on creating (although I could do this part of my job forever) and figure out the logistics of having a retail/grocery product.
Thank you, Amy!
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Country: United States
Release Date: November 2018
Designer: Zach Ruden
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge.