The beverage that built a community.
A Seed Is Planted
It all began when Guayakí co-founder Alex Pryor left his native Argentina to study food science at Cal Poly University. In 1996, Alex introduced yerba mate to his soon to be best friend David Karr, a native Californian, and the two instantly bonded over the beverage’s energizing properties and its revered cultural heritage. They knew something special was brewing and dreamed of building a business that would be a force for positive change in the world.
Alex & David focused on building the business in San Luis Obispo, where the California coastline provided a sublime backdrop for many long gourd sessions. Always committed to yerba mate culture, they abided by holistic living and business practices that aligned with their love for nature and adventure.
The Circle Grows
They began selling the drink to students and small businesses, and before long, Alex & David added three more partners: Don Miguel, Steven Karr, and Chris Mann – all of whom we fondly refer to as the “Semillas” (seeds) these days. All together, they channeled their activist mentality to pioneer a revolutionary Market Driven Regeneration™ business model that would empower customers to drive tangible change through their love of yerba mate.
A Movement Brews
Blending a West Coast pioneer spirit and Argentine hospitality, the Semillas hit the road. Caravanning in VW vans and RVs, they criss-crossed the US with the wheel in one hand and a gourd in the other. Loose leaf yerba mate was leading the charge as the Semillas introduced people to yerba mate by brewing it in percolators or french presses to make mate lattes. Eventually, they packaged loose leaf yerba mate into convenient mate sachets, which are still available today along with loose leaf.
Partnering with the Aché Kue Tuvy Community
The alliance between Guayakí Yerba Mate and the Aché Kue Tuvy arose naturally from a shared dream: to preserve the Atlantic Rainforest and to produce yerba mate in a way that regenerated the land and enabled local Indigenous communities to preserve their cultural heritage while also pursuing economic empowerment through yerba mate. To this day, we continue to have a strong partnership with the Aché as well as many other communities across Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.
Inspired by the national drink of Paraguay called “tereré” (iced yerba mate blended with herbs and juices), Guayakí's first ready-to-drink yerba mate was born in the form of our glass tereré bottles. A few years later, our Lemon Elation was unveiled as our first can, followed by Enlighten Mint and Revel Berry. The cans & bottles were so well received, we now have nearly 20 flavors with a variety of flavor profiles and formats, as well as our OG loose leaf offerings.
B Corp Certified
This was a proud milestone for us as we became one of the first 82 companies to become a B Corp during the first year of the certification’s launch. Certified B Corporations are considered leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. Guayakí was recognized by B Lab as a ‘Best for the Environment’ company in B Lab’s 2012 ‘Best for the World’ lists that recognized companies creating the most positive overall social and environmental impact. To this day, we continually raise the bar on how we can transform the world by using business as a force for good, as seen in our many certifications and our Social Purpose Corporation charter.
Fair for Life Certified
In 2009, our company became a pioneer in the yerba mate industry by being the first in the world to offer fair trade certified yerba mate according to the Fair for Life standard, a reflection of our dedication to the yerba mate producers and their communities in South America with whom we work in close partnership.
Yerba Mate Co. Distribution Launches
With a passion for making a difference, we launched our own self-distribution company, Yerba Mate Co. Doing so helped launch our products into retail accounts outside of the natural category with a route to market that would make a difference in the traditional three-tier DSD industry. Yerba Mate Co. was founded with socially conscious values and the well-being of employees as top priorities. Led by passion and ingenuity, we train with the intention to elevate team members to reach their fullest potential in their careers.
Inspired by cebadores in South America, Guayakí launched Ambacebador as a place for yerba mate fans around the world to connect and share mate (both virtually and in person!). This community program connects fans with the brand as well as other Guayakí enthusiasts who have similar interests and values. It’s a place to share, connect, be seen, and be valued. There are now over 6,000 Ambacebadores today and the movement isn’t slowing down anytime soon!
Now, over 25 years later, we are sharing yerba mate loose leaf, cans, and bottles in North and South America with the same regenerative vision that the Semillas initially started with!
Guayakí Yerba Mate is about much more than yerba mate. We believe in the power of sharing and connecting through this plant and spreading yerba mate culture as an invitation to personal, social, ecological, and cultural regeneration.