Douglas Riboud and Justin Guilbert

Produced with  Cool Hunting

Douglas Riboud and Justin Guilber are featured in Cool Hunting 25, a showcase, presented in partnership with Cadillac, of 25 creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

The idea seems simple enough: make great coconut water. The kind that tastes like it would if you cut one down and opened it up yourself. But as Douglas Riboud and Justin Guilbert discovered when they founded Harmless Harvest in 2009, sometimes simple isn’t as simple as all that.

“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is stay true to the ingredients,” explains Riboud, recently returned from one of many trips to Thailand where the company sources the main ingredient for its popular coconut water. It’s half a world away from Harmless Harvest’s core market in the States, and the long journey presents particular issues when you’re in the business of providing thirsty fans with 100% raw, organic juice.

Enter HPP, or High Pressure Processing, which uses thousands of pounds of pressure to extend the juice’s shelf life, without sacrificing flavor. “What was important to us was bringing consumers closer to the actual plant,” says Riboud. “HPP is one of the best ways to preserve that taste and authenticity.” Beyond that, though, there’s another element at play. “We wanted to make the best product possible, which comes with a set of social values,” Riboud says. To that end, Guilbert and Riboud—who logged time in marketing and finance before striking out on their own—are doggedly committed to maintaining an ethical ecological and social footprint.

“We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves.”

Not content with Fair Trade, the company is certified Fair for Life, and devoted to providing a living wage and reasonable conditions to its partners and employees. “We wanted every bottle we sell to have a positive impact on the supply chain,” Riboud notes. The result? A high quality product, and a higher quality of life for everyone involved. It’s not the easiest—or the cheapest—way to do business, but Harmless Harvest is banking on it, and consumers are responding. As Riboud says, “We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves.”

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