Well Made

Ep. 92 Stepping on All the Rakes with Tony Konecny

August 20, 2019 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

No matter how you brew it, coffee is hot water dripped through ground beans. But somewhere down the line, good coffee started to feel out of reach, even for the everyday coffee drinker. Some coffee historians may disagree, but Tony Koecny (aka Tonx) believes that coffee's turn toward the bourgeois came with its third wave — a post-Starbucks generation of gadget obsessed brewers looking for the best quality beans. 

Tony's roots in the coffee world run deep. His initial company, Tonx was the first coffee subscription around. Now, a couple years after selling Tonx to Blue Bottle, Tony launched Yes Plz. In many ways Yes Plz feels like the culmination of everything he's learned, not only about the nuances of the supply chain or the flavor complexity of different beans, but how coffee culture went wrong. 

Yes Plz is on an earnest mission to make really great coffee easy to buy and brew at home. With their weekly deliveries and beautifully executed zine, Tony and his team are lowering the barrier to entry for exceptional home brewing, and they may steal back some pod coffee converts along the way.

“We lost the battle to Keurig and Nespresso. They took all the consumer money while we were just trying to sell people lattes.”

 Stepping on All the Rakes
 Stepping on All the Rakes

On this episode, Stephan and Tony start by tracing back the coffee waves, all the way to the 1920s (3:00). Tony admits that Starbucks was a trailblazer for coffee culture, even if they did permeate the space consumer frenzied globalization (9:00). With third wave coffee driving up the demand for more quality and farm-to-cup transparency in the supply chain (13:03), local coffee shops started popping up creating a cottage industry (23:08).

Tony talks about the Blue Bottle acquisition and what he may have done if they decided not to sell Tonx (32:03). Yes Plz launched in 2019 with a new mission for coffee, that's more approachable. He was inspired by the craft beer model — niche doesn't have to be exclusive (55:03). Stephan and Tony share their concerns about pod coffee's excess packaging (1:00:02). Finally, they dive deep into how Tony produces the Yes Plz Weekly magazine and how he came up with the pricing and shipping structure for the brand. (1:05:13).


Also mentioned on the show: 

Header image by Stephanie Godot for the Los Angeles Times.


You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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