In 2005, Carl Pretorius, a self-confessed coffee junkie, knew he needed to cut down on his six-a-day espresso habit in order to reduce his caffeine intake and the negative impact it was having on his health. Not finding a suitable caffeine-free alternative (tea was too boring and decaf a poor substitute) and wanting something to fulfill his need for espresso style – something short and intense that packed a punch and was fun to make – he set about the challenge of inventing something himself. He looked to rooibos tea, a South African herbal tea which generations of South Africans have relied on for its infinite health benefits – immune-boosting, detoxing, age-defying and more – and wondered if all the goodness of this tea could be concentrated into a short, tasty, caffeine-free shot.
Like coffee, the higher the altitude of the tea, the better the taste owing to slower growth. Being a serious coffee connoisseur, Carl understood the nuances of espresso – and the crop – and how it could alter the taste and ultimate in-cup delivery and he knew it was imperative to find the best quality, single estate, mountain rooibos. He finally found it – on a family-run farm – and spent the next few months silently refining the grind of the tea until, one day, he succeeded in expressing a striking red espresso that delivered on crema, tasted surprisingly delicious and, loaded with antioxidants, was unbelievably healthy too.
Carl knew he had a product that met a global consumer need but he needed an astute, experienced businessman and a solid marketing strategist to brand it and take it to market. Pete and Monique Ethelston were on honeymoon and sitting in an Internet café in Kathmandu when they first received an email from Carl (Pete’s long-time business partner and friend), inviting them to try a rooibos cappuccino on their return. Both Pete and Monique had left the corporate world behind after many years of working with multinationals, and were looking for a business venture to sink their teeth (and experience) into.
United in their belief in the product and their vision of creating a new beverage category and a world-class business and brand, they set about launching the world’s first rooibos tea espresso. They called it red espresso. Today, what started out as the world’s first tea espresso has expanded into many product formats of rooibos tea – and healthy drink innovations – making red espresso a leader in the rooibos tea, specialty beverage and health and wellness industry.
Who we are
red espresso is a privately-owned, proudly South African company; driven by the hearts and minds of a small group of people – and fuelled by belief and passion.
At red espresso, we believe anything is possible. We’re a small group of strong-minded individuals – a mix of ex-corporates and entrepreneurs, friends and family – who believe in doing things differently. We break the rules. We work by ‘why not?’ We do business ‘unusual’. With a balance of professionalism, passion, flexibility and a willingness to attempt the seemingly impossible, we believe it is this business culture that has helped win red espresso numerous international awards over the years.
What we do
Pioneers of the world’s first Rooibos tea espresso, we are responsible for everything from farm to shipment of finished goods, adding value, in our country, throughout the value chain.
We believe in long-term partnerships. We work with companies – in foodservice and in retail – who share a similar ethos to us: who work by the same code of ethics and passion as we do. As red espresso is not a commodity but a premium product, we believe in slow-growth and in fostering transparent, long-term relationships with all our partners.
We only source the best quality Rooibos tea. Our Rooibos is grown wild on the Cedarberg Mountains at highest altitude, where the plant grows slowly and hence tastes stronger; in a place where intensive farming is not feasible and growth is dictated by nature. Dealing directly with our farmers, with full traceability, we pay a premium price for our single estate tea to ensure that there is sufficient payment for all those that participate in growing and harvesting our Rooibos.
We add value to our country so as to create change. We are helping to build a future for South Africa and are committed to ensuring that the full value chain of red espresso is enjoyed in South Africa, working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry in this regard.
We promote Rooibos as a uniquely South African product. We have been active members of the South African Rooibos Council since red espresso was launched in 2005. Our single biggest contribution to the council is sharing our marketing knowledge and expertise.
We are environmentally conscious. We all share in the desire to look after Earth and are doing this in a number of ways:
- Our farm has the highest biodiversity rating amongst all Rooibos farmers in industry
- We have partnered with Cape Nature Conservation in our Red Cedar Project to replant the indigenous, highly-endangered Clanwilliam Cedar trees into the Cedarberg.
- red espresso’s first carbon footprint will be completed by June 2013 and it is our intention to be carbon-neutral and fully off-set our emissions.
- Our new headquarters being built this year will be a green building that features energy-efficient building designs and materials, solar energy, rain water harvesting and other green initiatives.
We strive to be able to do more in the future.
Why we do it
red espresso is everything we’ve ever wanted from a business. It’s good. It’s honest. It’s real. It represents everything we believe in and the world we want to live in; a world where value is based on a different kind of currency, where life is respected and anything is possible.
It is our dream to have a homegrown, globally-known product and to remain a small, privately-owned company; one that cares for its people and the environment and interacts with its consumers with heart, passion and integrity.