Shane Whittle: one half of Marley Coffee
Marley Coffee is a new coffee company coming out on the market in recent years. Co-founders Rohan Marley; son of international Reggae star Bob Marley, and Shane Whittle; Canadian stock tycoon started the company with the intention of giving back to the community in Jamaica, and wow have they achieved something great. I was lucky enough to talk with Shane and here is what he had to say.
Where did you meet Rohan and how did you decide on coffee? We met in Los Angeles and became friends, we both shared a love of soccer and would play weekly. One day we were talking about the other did for a living. I stated I was a entrepreneur and was looking for the next opportunity. Rohan mentioned that he was in the middle of launching his family’s clothing business called Tuff Gong and that he has a 52 acre farm in Jamaica that he was not doing much with at the time. It had some fruit trees, coffee plants, ample vegetation and a beautiful river. I was quite intrigued about the farm as my grandfather was a apple farmer and I have a personal love for gardens and the outdoors being from beautiful British Columbia. I did some research and discovered that Rohan’s farm was in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, a region that is world renowned for its coffee. I had been a coffee enthusiast for quite some time and I knew that this could be a great opportunity to bring a rare product to more markets. Rohan was thrilled by the idea, especially given the fact that we would be supporting the Jamaican locals and farming community. I immediately jumped on a plane to Jamaica, my first trip there, to see the farm with my own eyes. I met with the farmers, toured the the property and my heart went out to the community, I envisioned what a difference Rohan and I could make to these people. We initially were going to use the name Tuff Gong Coffee, but after a lot of consideration I felt that it was important to carry on the Marly Family legacy, as Rohan’s father has made such a positive impact in Jamaica and all over the world, thus the name Marley Coffee came to be.
Where did your passion for healthy living come from? I have learned about the benefits of healthy living and proper nutrition from my mom, Helen, who is a Naturopathic practitioner. I was brought up eating healthy natural foods and have always enjoyed being active and outdoors. My father having a heart attack at the age of 42, also dove home the fact that I needed to take care of my health.
Can we expect to see Marley coffee on the shelves at Vons or Costco eventually? Or is this a reserve crop with only a limited quantity for production? Yes, we are currently expanding our distribution and expect to be on many more shelves in the coming months. Our production quantity is not limited, in order to develop the specific taste, flavour profiles and also create variety and affordability, Marley Coffee has sourced beans from our farming parters from around the world to create other delicious blends in addition to our Blue Mountain coffee, which is grown exclusively in a certain region of Jamaica.
Is there a chance of a Marley Cafe being built? Yes, we are currently working on developing a Marley Coffee House. We are excited about being able to share the full experience of the Marley Coffee brand with our customers. These will not be your basic coffee houses, customers will not only be able to experience some of the best coffee the world has to offer, but also an environment full of music, the lively energy of Jamaica and the legacy and tradition of the Marley Family.
What is your vision for the future of Marley Coffee? We are continuously working on expanding the brand, developing new products, entering more markets and growing our philanthropic efforts though my charity www.kicksforcause.org, the Marley family charity, www.1love.org and other organizations. We envision Marley Coffee becoming a leader in the sustainable farming movement.
How do you take your coffee? I take it black, with a little bit of organic Blueberry honey.
What is your favorite part of working with the Marley Family? Do you have a favorite selection of Marley music, Bob or any of the brothers? I have always admired Bob Marley’s integrity and the values that he stood for. It is an honour to be able to carry on the Marley family legacy and support the communities and famers through Marley Coffee. I love music and it is a rare day that you would not hear a Marley song playing in my car or on my computer.
What are your past times when you are not making coffee? Most days you will find me working on new projects, such as my new company www.mellowbars.com, a all natural relaxation snack, then enjoying some sort of outdoor sport, whether it be soccer, wake surfing, snow boarding, hiking or just walking my dogs.
What can we expect from Shane Whittle in the next 10 years? Where do you see yourself? Given my driven nature and work ethic, I hope to be a leader in the natural health movement, with a range of different product offerings. In 10 years years, I hope my hard work will have payed off and I will be sitting on a beach in Jamaica with my family, sipping on a coconut, reflecting on how a kid from Vancouver and a son of an iconic figure like Bob Marley, were able to change to coffee industry and positively impact the lives of farmers and their families around the world.
Where can people find more info on Marley Coffee and Shane Whittle? Is there anything else you’d like to add? They can find more info at MarleyCoffee.com and ShaneWhittle.com , I would also say that they should watch the documentary that I produced, One Cup of Coffee, it’s filmed on the Blue Mountain Farm in Jamaica and shows how Marley Coffee started and what is it doing within the community.
Thanks Shane! This coffee company is one to try. I have personally had the one love and simmer down blends and was very satisfied. Next week we will be talking with Rohan Marley about his part in the coffee company! ~Tom Searcy