Behind the Brand
Taika was created by co-founders Michael Sharon and Kal Freese. Michael was the first mobile product hire at Facebook, and during his time at the company, he stopped adding sugar to his coffee for the sake of his health. Once he eliminated the sugar, Michael experienced the true taste of coffee for the first time and quickly became a self-proclaimed “coffee snob”, seeking out the highest-quality versions and notes he could find. As time went on, however, Michael became so obsessed with coffee that he began to experience negative side effects like overstimulation and jitters. Unwilling to give up coffee, Michael started doing some research and came across L-theanine, a heavily-researched amino acid that is naturally found in tea leaves. He found that if he took an L-theanine supplement with his coffee, he could drink five coffees daily and still feel fantastic. Michael made this his daily ritual for years.
When he eventually quit his job and started traveling, Michael ran into his now co-founder Kal, a Finland native and the former 9th best barista in the world. At the time, Kal was developing his own cold brew but the two immediately hit it off, deciding to combine Kal’s cold brew with the adaptogens and supplements that Michael had been taking for years. To begin with, they made 30 cans of black coffee infused with adaptogens and shared them with friends, all of whom loved the product and kept asking for more. Michael and Kal then made 500 cans, put a label with their phone number on each can, and sold them to a startup in San Francisco. The startup went through the batch of 500 cans within two weeks. Encouraged by the positive response, the co-founders experimented with an oat milk latte and took them back to the same startup, which went through the lattes even faster. This was the moment that Michael and Kal realized the phenomenon that they had created — fitting for a company named after the Finnish word for “magic”.