Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Waka Coffee Combats Water Waste with Its Add Water Give Water Campaign

Image used with permission by copyright holder

When David Kovalevski, the founder of Waka Coffee, started learning about the coffee industry, he opened his eyes to a startling fact about the java industry. According to Unesco, it takes about 37 gallons of water to produce a single cup of coffee. It’s a thirsty trade, with water used to wash the coffee cherries and submerge the crop to separate the ripe yield from the unripe stuff. The beans are then hit with more fresh water to induce fermentation. And this is to say nothing of irrigation needs or the water usage associated with creating packaging and shipping the product. Learning about this wasteful process set him out to establish a process to combat the waste.

Related Readings

Meet the Founder, David Kovalevski

Waka Coffee Founder David KovalevskiBefore Waka Coffee launched in late 2019, Kovalevski collected menus from area coffee shops to spark ideas for his future business. “I wanted to be an entrepreneur from a very young age,” he recalls. “My dream was to open a coffee shop.”

After studying digital marketing at college in New York and researching the coffee realm in between courses, Kovalevski refined his dream some. He would stick with coffee but go the instant route. The time and cash consumed from coffee runs while a student with a full-time job was significant, especially given Big Apple prices. He envisioned a lighting-fast cup of joe made with just the addition of water  — one that tasted like it came from the deft hands of a seasoned barista.

” When I was thinking about Waka Coffee I knew we had to give back somehow or change our own behavior to compensate for that waste,” Kovalevski says. “As a new and small player in the coffee industry, we unfortunately can’t control the entire process at this point. However, we still wanted to give back in a meaningful way that is directly correlated to that somewhat wasteful process.”

The Add Water, Give Water Campaign

Image used with permission by copyright holder

From day one, Waka has partnered with the non-profit charity:water as part of its Add Water, Give Water campaign. In other words, the brand has donated 4% of its profits to support clean water projects all over the planet, including coffee-centric places like Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. In turn, the non-profit uses the entirety of its proceeds for its important work.

Kovalevski notes that the issue is twofold. For starters, water is a precious resource and needs to be conserved. This is all the more important amid a warming planet subject to increasingly frequent droughts. Secondly, in far too many places, there’s no clean water for drinking. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you operate in an industry like coffee, which has a history of leaving the spigot on.

Waka hopes to donate even more to charity:water in the future, financially and physically. Kovalevski says the outfit is incredibly transparent, showing where each dollar is spent via photos and GPS coordinates. The non-profit’s partners on the ground coordinate sanitation and hygiene training as well as local water committees to keep the clean water flowing and the practices in place.

It doesn’t stop there. Waka has actively supported the medical world during the pandemic, donating coffee to hospitals all over the country. Kovalevski is looking forward to doing more in and around Waka’s headquarters in Los Angeles as well.

“There are many things we could make a difference with in our own backyard like the homeless crisis, social inequality, assisting immigrants and refugees, and much more,” he says. “My dream is to have the means and the team to support these causes as well.”

How You Can Support

As the company grows, it will aim to grow its philanthropic efforts as well. It’s not only part of being a mindful company in 2021 but part of a growing and inspiring trend among businesses to be transparent and active. It’s no longer enough to make a tasty IPA or balanced cup of coffee. You need to engage with the world and try to make it better by taking on any number of vital social, environmental, and racial justice issues.

“We know that we are a small brand and unfortunately can’t change the world right now, or even be as good as we would have wanted to be,” Kovalevski admits. “But, we definitely make an effort in places we can make a difference, taking into consideration other causes beyond immediate profitability, like taking care of our environment.”

Whether you like an easy-to-make cup of instant coffee or a hot pour of decaf, Waka’s got you covered. Better, the brand is giving back and constantly looking to lead by example.

Shop at Waka Coffee

This feature is part of our Brands Giving Back Series, where we’ll bring you all the latest news on brands that are giving back to the community, and how you can support by shopping online.

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
This Beloved Oregonian Brewery Wants To Preserve America’s Essential Watersheds
brands giving back ten barrel brewing 2  brewery

One of Oregon's most recognizable breweries is helping preserve its rugged landscapes. With the release of Reel Good Summer Ale, 10 Barrel has partnered with Trout Unlimited and its Home Rivers Initiative to look after and protect important watersheds.

The beer is a refreshing kolsch, ideal for a warm afternoon. It was made with fishing and hiking in mind, using traditional methods and a Champagne-esque fermentation that yields an incredibly clean and crisp beer. It's the kind of thing you want in your cooler, right next to your fishing rod and lucky angling hat.

Read more
Goodpluck: Helping Small Farms in Detroit Achieve Big Things
brands giving back goodpluck detroit basket farmers

When you sit down to eat that fresh salad you made, how often do you think about how the ingredients got to your plate? If the answer is "not very," it's OK because most people would have the same response.

The fact is, the food distribution system is very centralized — especially for produce. That's why there isn't a ton of variation in produce from supermarket to supermarket, whether you're shopping in Detroit or Dallas. It's also why small farmers are relegated to farmers' markets, large institutions like schools, or local bodegas to sell their goods. Shouldn't there be an easier way for people to have access to fresh local produce?

Read more
Tall Grass Food Box: How a Fresh Produce Subscription Supports Black Farmers
brands giving back tall grass food box derrick gabrielle gerald

One of the most valuable lessons the past year taught us was the importance of community. Together but alone, the world learned the true meaning of the word essential and the significance of supporting those who keep us safe, healthy, and fed in our everyday lives.

For Tall Grass Food Box founders, Gabrielle Carter, Derrick Beasley, and Gerald Harris this message had always been the cornerstone of their personal and professional lives. In Black culture, taking care of your neighbors is second nature and necessary for community survival. So amid these unprecedented times, they looked to their ancestors for the tools to help regrow and rebuild.
Meet the Founders of the Black-Owned Farm Produce Subscription

Read more