IT CAME FROM AFRICA: HOW KARMA COLA WAS BORN
Cola, the name ingredient for the world’s most popular brand of drink, like most things, originally came from Africa. And since ‘It came from Africa’ sounds more impressive than ‘It all began on a beach in New Zealand’ and pretty much everything began in Africa – let’s stick with Africa.
The three friends, Chris Morrison, Matt Morrison and Simon Coley were sitting on Piha beach looking at the surf when they had the idea for Karma Cola.
Years ago Chris began making ginger beer in a bathtub which led to him building New Zealand’s pioneering organic drinks company Phoenix Organics. He had lots of experience finding quality, ethical and organic ingredients and turning them into great tasting drinks.
Simon had been persuading people to do good working with organisations like Greenpeace and The Economist. He’d returned to New Zealand after a long stint in the design and advertising world in London and had been applying himself to champion local companies “that give a sh*t”, caring about the quality of the design of their products and the impact they have.
Matt Morrison, Chris’ brother, learned all about order as an officer in the New Zealand army and after demob he studied for an MBA and worked for New Zealand’s Treasury keeping the country solvent. Matt would take care of the money and get stuff done.
The trio sat and thought and talked about the word karma. And the concept of cause and effect.
“We wanted to create something that would connect buyers with farmers in a way that respected everyone and everything involved — what goes around comes around”
Matt, Chris and Simon wanted to create a company that found ingredients that were good for the land, good for the people who grow them and good for the people who eat and drink them.
After some head scratching they landed on a blindingly obvious name. Karma Cola sounded like a drink made with fairly traded, organic ingredients so they dug around to find out more about cola. This led them to imagining a product that might balance the inherent inequality of a fantastically weird statistic they tripped over in their research.
They wondered where all that cola came from. What was in it and who grew all those ingredients. They also asked themselves ‘what is cola?’
Finding answers to these questions took them all the way to a small village in West Africa and introduced them to a load of wonderful people.
They couldn’t squeeze the answers onto the back of the bottle so follow their story and they’ll show you what real cola is, where it comes from, the people who grow it, why it’s important in their lives and how a crazy idea about a fizzy drink might be able to do some good.