In 2005 we created the world’s first Rooibos tea espresso
as a naturally caffeine-free alternative to coffee for people who were unable to drink caffeine or looking to reduce their caffeine intake. We created a range of café-style Rooibos drinks and became famous for our much-loved Rooibos red cappuccino® and red latte®. In the process, we won eight international awards for pioneering healthy café-culture and inadvertently attracted many consumers who had no health concerns but who couldn’t get enough of red espresso®s delicious flavour.
Since then we have created healthier versions of many of the world’s favourite drinks – from chai and matcha to hot chocolate and iced tea – through our passion for simple ingredients and honest flavours.
A family business from the very beginning
In 2005 Pete and Monique Ethelston left their successful corporate careers behind and went backpacking through the Himalayas on honeymoon. While sitting in an internet café in Kathmandu they received an email from Pete’s long-time business partner and friend, Carl Pretorius, inviting them to try a Rooibos espresso upon their return. Monique, a tea drinker and health guru, and Pete, an entrepreneur and avid sportsman, were both intrigued by Carl’s idea of a healthy alternative to coffee made from herbal Rooibos tea that grows only in their native South Africa.
Pete and Monique had already decided to combine their passions for health, wellness and economic upliftment to start a business together. A product that was both uber-healthy and able to create significant employment in South Africa seemed a perfect fit.
After just one sip Pete and Monique knew this was a business venture they wanted to sink their teeth and experience into. They understood how an espresso made from naturally caffeine-free Rooibos could open up the world of coffee-style drinks to people who – like themselves – were avoiding caffeine for health reasons, sports training and pregnancy. And they were confident that such a product would meet a global need.
They teamed up with Monique's brother, Nic Reid, and Pete’s long-time business partner and friend, Oliver Ryder to launch red espresso®. Nic helped make and pack red espresso®, and establish the first 1000 café customers in South Africa by selling it from the boot of his car! And Oliver, our CFO from the very beginning, helped Pete establish the business commercially.
United in their faith that the product could provide a genuinely healthy alternative to coffee, they set about developing unique coffee-style drinks – including the red cappuccino® and red latte® that have made red espresso® so famous. Prepared in exactly the same way as a coffee cappuccino or latte, and on the very same coffee appliances, these two beverages pioneered healthy café-culture and created a brand new beverage category in the process.
These efforts earned red espresso® eight international awards, including Best New Specialty Product 2008 at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s flagship show. There, red espresso® made history as not only the first tea but also the first South African company ever to win an SCAA award. That same year the World Tea Expo recognized them as one of the top ten new products, globally.
Curious about whether their red espresso® truly was a concentrated shot of Rooibos goodness, they took it to the Antioxidant Research Unit at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology to have its antioxidant levels tested. The numbers bore out their suspicions…and then some. Not only did their Rooibos red espresso® contain ten times more antioxidants than a cup of regular Rooibos tea, but it also had five times more antioxidants than green tea!
Kirsty Reid, Monique’s sister, joined them in 2008 and is a familiar face to many café customers around South Africa and globally. Jo Reid, Nic’s wife, joined them in 2021 after many years of sharing the family passion around the dinner table!
Today red espresso® remains a leader in the Rooibos and Specialty Beverage industries for pioneering healthy café culture. We add value in our country to create change and are committed to ensuring that the full value chain of red espresso® is enjoyed in South Africa, working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry in this regard.
I have admiration for your product and for the heart with which you do things and the ultimate value you place on people and enriching their lives. You’ve ploughed up new ground and opened a gap for a product people hadn’t imagined. That product is now a household name that brings everyday happiness to everyone from farmers and factory workers to baristas and customers.
Rooibos has never been cool…but now it’s flippin’ cool.
Athletes, nutritionists, yogis, pregnant women, and children are a few of the caffeine-adverse folks who can now participate in café culture, thanks to caffeine-free red espresso®.
Home-grown, globally-known, healthy innovation.
Rooibos tea could be the new world coffee.
There’s a quiet revolution happening in coffee – red espresso®. It’s got ten times the antioxidants of Rooibos and is caffeine-kick free. Enjoy red cappuccino® – it’s on its way to world domination.