Columns Magazine: Coffee with a twist of tech


Meg Cressey | Columns Magazine

Paul Tupper, ’14, started Onda Origins, a Seattle-based coffee company with a technological spin, to further his environmental agenda. A graduate of the UW’s master’s program in museology who lived for a time in Costa Rica, Tupper is strengthening links between coffee growers and coffee drinkers.

Plenty of coffee companies tout their sustainability efforts, “but we didn’t feel like it was as accurate nor as [environmentally] beneficial as it was tabbed to be,” says Tupper, who co-founded Onda with his brother, Scott. “So we thought about how we could create a business model that reflects and rewards best practices in sustainable coffee.”

They are using virtual reality and other technologies to tell the story of their coffee. They are also sharing more revenue with coffee growers and making use of blockchain technology to make the supply chain more transparent. Blockchain—best known for keeping cryptocurrency exchanges secure—is a list of digital records, or blocks, that turn a supply chain into a “glass pipeline,” Tupper explains. Customers will be able to see exactly how the coffee makes its way from the grower’s farm to their cup.

Because the company is headquartered in UW’s Startup Hall it can collaborate with other startups including a virtual reality company to help them bring a 3D experience of life on a coffee farm to Seattle customers.

In addition to ordering Onda’s coffee online, you can also find the coffee at the downtown Seattle Nordstrom and cafés like Mr. West and Urban Coffee House.