London is way ahead of the game when it comes to new business in the city. Here at Rebelhead we wanted to check out the most innovative ventures and most impactful entrepreneurs in the food and drink industry. Health freaks, get excited! We spoke to Rebecca Warner, Co-founder of Kakawa, a company that has brewed up the first chocolate flavoured herbal tea of its kind. Now’s your time to discover what her journey into the UK herbal tea market involved…

Getting to Know Rebecca

Where did your journey to becoming a Founder begin?

I discovered cocoa tea when travelling in Peru in 2014. A tiny ‘chocolate museum’ in Cusco serves cups of cocoa tea to visitors. When they handed me a cup of hot, rich, cocoa-scented tea and explained that this was virtually calorie-free, sugar free, and actively good for me, I was blown away and took the memory of it home with me. Frustration hit when I was unable to find it anywhere in the UK so the solution was quite simply to bring it to the UK myself.

A few months later, after searching high and low for the perfect supplier, Kakawa was born. The word ‘kakawa’ means cacao in Quechuan, the language of the Andean people of South America. It’s really important for us to keep this product and its spirit as close to its origins as possible.

Critical Decisions

What compelled you to set up your own business?

Kakawa is a completely herbal alternative to regular hot drinks, yet is a million miles away from the existing herbal tea variety. The ingredient isn’t something you would expect and isn’t always something associated with kickass health. The single ingredient of Kakawa Tea is cacoa bean shells, making the most perfect cocoa herbal tea. Don’t get us wrong – we love a cup of mint, nettle, ginger, dandelion, etc – but Kakawa changes the game by being a healthy infusion that tastes like pure, natural cocoa.

Which element of the business inspires you?

Our supplier is a wonderful independent bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Edinburgh, who import the beans from a family farm in Peru, and roast and shell them at their shop in Scotland. They have a huge amount of respect for the cacao bean, and we can honestly say that their cocoa bean shells are the only ones that truly taste like the real deal back in Peru. We firmly believe in celebrating the purity of this product, and will never add anything like sugar, dairy or – as is popular among some alternatives – artificial flavouring.

Critical Challenges

How did you create a product that stands out against so many others?

The tea itself is made entirely of cocoa bean shells. These are removed from cocoa beans during the chocolate manufacturing process. The beans are roasted, and the shells – or ‘husks’ – are removed, so that the cocoa nibs inside can go off to make chocolate. So cocoa shells are in fact a waste product – they are an ‘offcut’ of the cocoa bean, discarded during chocolate making. We’re super happy to be making good use of them!

Success Secrets

How do you keep both your mind and body healthy?

Cacoa is an amazing health food – it has long been heralded by the Ancient Incas as the food of the gods, which is reflected in the tree’s scientific name, Theobroma Cacao: Theo (god) broma (drink). The health benefits of pure cocoa tea fall into two main camps, the body and the mind, and do not apply to most of the chocolate that we eat, as the benefits are typically lost lost when the bean is processed.

Rebel Wrap Up

What does the future look like for your company?

We’re looking to develop a raw version of Kakawa as the raw food market is pretty hot right now. The raw version will be a slightly fruitier flavour and will have a higher density of healthy benefits.

About The Author

Megan Hanney

Megan is a valued rebel contributor. Her mission is to show that anyone with grit and determination has limitless potential to get to where they want to be, regardless of circumstance. Megan thrives in the start-up ecosystem and embraced her entrepreneurial streak after launching WeWork's first two co-working spaces in London's tech city. She broke the company into the UK market and launched their second location at 100% capacity before opening; the first time this had ever happened in WeWork's global history.

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