Ymateina started as a dream, a longing for those mornings as a child in Paraguay when I would wake up to the aroma of yerba mate. Finally, I decided that enough was enough. I was working long hours in corporate America and drinking way too much coffee to fuel my days. I realized that it was not good for me – the jitters, the crash, the lack of focus. So I decided to call my grandma and ask her to mail some yerba mate, along with her recipe for creating Cosido Quemado (“Kojoi” in the Guarani language), a Paraguayan traditional roasted yerba mate.
When I first arrived in the States, I was intrigued by the fact that yerba mate was not consumed in the U.S. as it is in South America. Even finding a place to buy it was nearly impossible. As the years passed, I started to see some for sale, first in a small tea shop, then later online, but it wasn’t the same as I remembered. The available product was too bitter for my taste, especially to make “Terere” (a cold infusion of yerba mate) and “Kojoi” (brewed and served hot), the two traditional drinks that I craved.
Not knowing exactly why the yerba mate in the U.S. was not the same, I began bringing Paraguayan yerba mate in my suitcase every time I would return from a visit home and would roast it to make Kojoi from my grandma’s secret recipe. Soon, my wife willingly replaced her daily coffee with this bolder and smoother yerba mate brew. Then some of our friends were curious and tried it. And just like that, a kind of “movement” took off. Word spread organically that Kojoi was a viable and flavorful alternative to coffee, providing energy without the jitters, consistency without that sudden crash, and many stated that they started feeling better too, due no doubt to its abundance of vitamins and antioxidants. More and more of my friends and neighbors, and then their friends and neighbors, started drinking it and before long I was overwhelmed by the demand for more product. I found myself spending most of my evenings and weekends making Kojoi, and I started dreaming of how I could make this lifestyle available to even more people! As I contemplated producing yerba mate in the larger quantities needed to realize this dream, I became somewhat obsessed with the need to learn everything I could about it … the difference in the taste of the plant depending upon its country and region of origin; the optimum amount of aging required to produce the smoother flavor favored by my wife and friends; and traditional roasting techniques and how those could be enhanced with newer technologies.
I then got together with my childhood friend, Arturo, an avid yerba mate drinker who plays competitive soccer and uses the drink as a natural source of energy. Together we designed YMateina. The project took over a year to develop. We set up headquarters in my garage and worked tirelessly on figuring out all the details of launching a new business, such as production, costs, finances, marketing, distribution and most importantly sourcing . . . how to get the best yerba mate from Paraguay in the quantities needed to support anticipated demand. We were later joined by Elba, Ruben and Jessica, Paraguayan friends who had the individual skills that would help us operationally into the future.
There is an old Guarani legend that imparts how yerba mate was a gift from the gods to the native Guaranis in gratitude for their hospitality, and that the yerba mate plant would never die as long as it was shared. We have taken to heart this message of sharing and have made it our mission to help create, through YMateina and our products, an emotional connection among people that will in turn awaken a lifestyle leading to greater happiness. Today, what started as a nostalgic dream has become a beautiful reality … a gift to share with the world, as the legend dictates, so that yerba mate can live forever.