Meet Johnny Farad and Ali Kothari, college students turned entrepreneurs and the founders of New Grounds Food. We’ve loved their passion (and the CoffeeBars) for years, so we reached out to ask them to share how their caffeine obsession lead to CoffeeBars’ creation.
Was there a pivotal moment when you fell in love with coffee?
Johnny: It’s hard to remember when I first fell in love with it since I’ve been drinking Turkish coffee since I was a toddler, but I think it really started to become a ritual in high school. Late nights studying after practice, college applications, etc. – coffee kept me going!
Ali: I think I really fell in love with coffee when I had my first pour-over from this small coffee shop in my hometown in Saratoga, California. But my clumsy self always seemed to spill it all over my clothes. When Johnny and I created our spill-free version , I decided I could "do coffee." No more stains meant I loved coffee even more.
How did it turn into a full-time job? New Grounds Food origin story!
Johnny: One thing led to another. Ali and I would joke about why we couldn’t just eat our coffee and decided to enter the CoffeeBar idea into a startup competition in hopes of winning some prize money. We ended up winning “audience favorite,” which was enough validation to continue moving forward.
Ali: For me, New Grounds Food transitioned from a fun project to a real company after our Kickstarter campaign. We presold more than 10,000 bars and complete strangers were interested in the concept.
What sets CoffeeBar apart from other energy bars?
Johnny: Not only are our CoffeeBars nutritious and tasty, but they also pack some real energy with a full cup of real coffee in every bar. A full cup of coffee! We see them as waking up the energy bar aisle.
Ali: And we don't use fake caffeine or harmful chemicals, just a real cup of fair trade coffee. Our bars also are made using only clean ingredients and are organic, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO.
What’s something most people don’t know about coffee or the process of making the CoffeeBar?
Johnny: Well, we can’t go too much into the specifics of how we make CoffeeBars, but there are actually three surprising health benefits of eating your coffee that you can learn about at the New Grounds Food blog!
Ali: For a 150-pound person to die from coffee, they would have to drink more than 60 8-ounce cups within five minutes. So eat or drink away!
Any fun stories to share?
Johnny: Oh man… where to start? Well, I’d say in the early trial-and-error days of making CoffeeBars back in our dorm room, there were a few minor mishaps. One time, we measured wrong and ended up packing the bars with about six times the amount of coffee we should have. Luckily, we were giving out sample-sized bars at the time so not too many people were bouncing off the walls!
Any advice for young entrepreneurs out there?
Ali: Being a student entrepreneur has a lot of pros: free resources on campus, lower risk (no family to support, etc.), and you are able to open doors that you wouldn't otherwise be able to. So if you have an idea, just go for it!!