In our article series “Facts” we’ll be talking with members of the coffee shop ecosystem that inspire us, from bakeries to manufacturers, consumer products, and everyone else in between. We want to get to know these folks, and we want you to, too. We’ll be asking everyone the same three questions—the answers, though, will be wildly different.

Amy Rothstein, founder of DONA
Amy Rothstein, founder of DONA

Today, we’ve got Amy Rothstein, founder of chai/spiced drink maker DONA, (pronounced like the name Donna in case you were wondering).. Though she had gone straight from college to work on a farm in Colorado, Rothstein decided to work on a food studies degree in New York. While working on that degree, Rothstein was spending a lot of time in coffee shops. But she wasn’t a coffee drinker—and she noticed there was a distinct lack of good chai available. So, after much research (and help from a family friend), Rothstein created her first chai recipe, and DONA was off to the races.

DONA has grown fast since 2014, but its commitment to inclusion and sustainability remains the same. Their drinks are vegan, gluten-free, and sustainably produced, with all the resulting waste going to compost.

What is DONA best known for?

Two things! First: Our quality and sourcing standards. Everything we make starts with the highest quality spices and is rounded out by real herbs and citrus. No extracts or artificial flavoring needed. We thoughtfully source our single directly from farmers. It’s a win-win: increasing wages and transparency along the supply chain. Thoughtful sourcing equals higher quality spices that don’t need to be masked by excess sugar.

Second: Our vibrant and innovative flavors. DONA drinks are made with conventional ground spices—single-origin, direct trade—brewed in Brooklyn by our small team (not mass-produced).

What was the first drink you made?

Masala chai concentrate, back in 2014 when NYC had a million coffee shops but no good option for a high quality chai. (There was a gap in the market.)

It was a pretty quick success, so from there we started to innovate and create more spice-inspired beverages for coffee shops.

What are you working on that no one knows about yet?

Shhhh... we’re working on a super secret (not really) re-brand. Our new look will reflect the vibrancy, creativity and quality of our brand. The first completed component of this re-brand will be a new Tisane look and will launch in about two months.

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