Exploring the Potential of Coffee Leaf Tea Seltzer 

Josh Tarlo and Carlos Pola bring the refreshing taste of coffee leaf tea seltzer to market and unlock a new source of income for producers. 

BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT

Photos courtesy of Carlos Pola & Josh Tarlo 

Coffee leaf tea seltzer is becoming increasingly popular among coffee enthusiasts, and it’s no surprise why. Combining carbonation with the health benefits of coffee leaves, this new drink promises an exciting light bubble effect. The goal is to give consumers a delightful and unique taste experience.  

Today we’ll explore how Josh Tarlo and Carlos Pola are using their expertise to bring this unique product to market. Read on for more information about the process and the potential benefits for producers around the world! 

A can of yuzu and ginger coffee leaf seltzer from headstand. It's yellow with a stylized drawing of a person holding a film camera, with a bob haircut and orange sunglasses. A can of the seltzer is also being poured into a rocks glass and is light orange in color.
The debut drink is low on calories, has no added sugar, and is enriched with ingredients like chamomile for calm, ginseng to boost the immune system, and L-theanine for focus. 

The Rise of Coffee Leaf Tea Seltzer 

Coffee leaf tea has been used for centuries in Ethiopia, Jamaica, and India, steeped in boiling water for around 30 minutes. It’s sweeter than green tea but contains less caffeine and is rich in antioxidants. In recent times, the coffee world has also embraced cascara, a tea made from the dried husks of coffee cherries. However, the idea of combining carbonation and coffee leaves is quite novel. The carbonation provides a light, refreshing bubble effect while providing the health benefits associated with drinking coffee leaf tea. 

Coffee leaf tea seltzer is gaining popularity thanks to Josh Tarlo, former U.K. Barista Champion and founder of seltzer company Headstand. He used coffee leaf tea as part of his signature drink at the 2018 World Barista Championship. “In 2016, I was speaking to Carlos Pola, whose coffee I was buying, and asked him about turning some leaves into tea so I could use it as part of a signature drink at the World Barista Championship. When I tasted the brew, I knew I needed to share it. It was delicious,” he says. 

It wasn’t until the pandemic forced people to stay home that Josh developed an interest in healthier drinks, and began making his own sodas. “I realized if we can make it delicious and easy to drink, we can develop a market for coffee leaf and in turn double the revenue a producer can make from every tree,” he says. 

Wooden platforms stand a few feet above the ground, covered in black plastic tarps. Underneath the tarps are coffee leaves. Hills and trees are visible in the distance.
The process of creating Headstand’s coffee leaf seltzer begins with vacuum-packing the leaves and cold-brewing them for 24 hours. 

Health Benefits and Product Diversification 

Headstand’s first coffee leaf seltzer contains natural ingredients such as yuzu, ginger, chamomile, and ginseng to create a low-calorie and sugar-free refreshment that is full of antioxidants. With more flavors in the works, Headstand aims to become a healthy alternative to energy drinks, sodas, and juices. The challenge for Josh lies in educating customers about the health benefits of the coffee leaf and showing them why it’s a good choice. 

”Because coffee leaf is so new, it means we need to educate the consumer on what it is, what it tastes like, why it’s good for you and the world. Everything is about how to make it easier to understand and enjoy,” he points out. 

A blue plastic basket full of dry coffee leaves. they look similar to yard leaves and are blue-green.
Coffee trees typically produce 2-4 kg of cherries, but when the leaves are also harvested, a producer can double their earnings per tree.  

Producer Carlos Pola believes the product has great potential. “This coffee leaf seltzer idea is a new and different challenge. It is a refreshing and healthy drink (and) it’s an alternative to coffee producers to diversify their revenues,” he says. 

Coffee leaf tea seltzer also has the potential to significantly increase the income of coffee producers around the world. According to Josh and Carlos, the process is simpler than trying to produce specialty-grade beans. Customers are enjoying the delicate flavor and subtle sweetness of coffee leaf tea seltzer.  

With support from the coffee industry, Headstand has been successfully launched in almost 100 shops across the U.K. and Ireland. This could be an important step toward improving the standard of living for coffee producers. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine, and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.

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