Recently we had the privilege of collaborating with Melbourne-based company Chai Addict on a new product for their range of chai concentrates. We’re thrilled with the resulting Dirty Chai, which brings coffee and chai together in the best way that we’ve ever tasted. We spoke to Chloe Janson, founder of Chai Addict, about the collaboration and discovered why she’s so passionate about chai.
The most successful businesses tend to occur where they meet a genuine need in the market. Combine this with a good dose of passion and tenacity and you’re bound to have a winning formula. These are qualities that Chloe Janson has in spades, and why Chai Addict is successful and still growing four years after she decided to take the leap from the corporate world into small business in 2016.
Chloe happened upon chai whilst living in the UK some years ago. She found it difficult to find coffee of the quality that she was accustomed to, and being quite a caffeine fiend at the time, she needed a beverage to fill its place.
Later, she had a formative chai experience at a tiny tea shop called Teakha in Hong Kong, when she was living there and working as a food writer.
Recounting the experience, Chloe lights up; you can see it was a eureka moment for her. “I had heard from all the expats that that’s where you’d go for good chai,” Chloe says.
As soon as you walked into the space “you could smell the individual spices. It was very cardamom heavy…but once you added in all the other spices, it mixed together so nicely.”
When she found herself back in Australia and working for a recruitment agency, Chloe was frustrated trying to order a chai on her corporate-length breaks.
“Once you walk to the café and order, it takes at least five minutes to make a chai, as you have to steep [the spices]. If it was quicker, I would be suspicious that it was a sugary syrup or a powder”.
Chloe identified that the existing chai products on the market seemed to fall into one of those two camps: either quick to make and full of sugar, or traditional whole spice formulas that were more suited to ritual than to busy cafes.
She had found that genuine unmet need: a readymade chai concentrate that was delicious, simple, sugar-free and quick to make into a beverage. And so the seed for Chai Addict was planted.
I ask Chloe if she always thought she would become an entrepreneur, if a small business was a long time in the planning. “No not at all!” she exclaims. The driver was a welcome redundancy from that corporate job, and the means and time that came with it to dedicate herself to the chai idea.
After about six months of research and development, and around 11 different recipe trials, it was “go time” as Chloe calls it. Chai Addict launched in December 2016.
Over the last few years, Chloe has been busy building the brand, brewing the chai and jet setting all over the country attending various specialty markets.
The range grew to include the “Chai Harder” blend, which is spicier than the original, with a heavy cayenne kick to it. The list of national stockists has also grown and now includes many boutique groceries, gift stores and cafes Australia-wide.
However, as for all of us, 2020 threw Chloe an unexpected curveball. With all the planned markets cancelled for the year, Chloe found she had a lot of time on her hands to tackle some longer-term projects.
Thankfully for us, one of those projects was a Dirty Chai concentrate. Dirty chai is a common name given to a beverage consisting of a chai latte poured over a shot of espresso.
Chloe had met our friends at ShortHive Honey and Sinkonah on the market circuit, so she knew we had been keen to collaborate and support small business in the past. Of course, we were over the moon when she reached out to us with the idea to collaborate.
Andrew, our sales manager and resident food scientist, “jumped straight on it,” as he says. It didn’t take long to establish that our values aligned perfectly.
We knew from the get-go that the best option would be to use cold brewed coffee, as this would not only accentuate the strength and sweetness of the coffee, but also help to create a product that was shelf stable.
After a few trials, it was evident that our Lucky Boy blend was the perfect coffee for the project; the hazelnut and milk chocolate notes really complemented the warmth and body of the tea and spices.
The resulting concentrate is so special and tasty. “I think it’s amazing!” exclaims Andrew. “To achieve a consistent coffee flavour in a dirty chai is really really hard.”
Often the ratio of coffee to chai can be hard to perfect, and the result is either weak and dull, or overpowering on the espresso.
“With the cold brew, you’re controlling the flavour and amount of acidity,” Andrew explains, “and then you control the ratio of coffee to spices, so you get a consistent product, every time you brew it. The spices are really balanced, the coffee comes through nicely, it’s not over powering, it’s not too weak.”
Not only is the product incredible, but Chloe was such a delight to work with. She’s so hardworking and driven, but also so personable and warm.
This strikes a perfect balance for a one-woman operation. Andrew says her personality is “infectious. You can’t help but have a good fun time when she comes in the door”.
Chloe herself admits that more and more people are concerned with who’s behind their favourite brands, and they purchase accordingly. “If there’s anything I’ve learnt,” Chloe says, “it’s that people want to see your face, want to know who you are, what your vibe is and what you have to say for yourself.”
Chloe credits Padre’s commitment to sustainability and our focus on community that really helped draw her to us. Likewise, Chloe is focussed on creating a business driven by sustainable growth.
She still brews each concentrate in exclusive, handmade batches herself and then composts the leftover tea and spices at community gardens.
This year she initiated a “Support Small Business Series”, where she partners with local small businesses and spotlights them through her platforms.
She’s even including free samples of their products with every order on her website. “The little things can make a difference!” Chloe says “It’s about helping each other out. The small business community is bonding at the moment”. It’s an initiative she hopes to continue into the future.
It’s been an honour to partner with Chai Addict. Chloe is such an energetic and passionate person and it shows in the quality and presentation of the Chai Addict range.
We’re so excited to share this Dirty Chai concentrate with you and we hope that you enjoy it as much as we do.
Chai Addict Dirty Chai concentrate (300ml and 500ml) now available in store and online.chaiaddict.com.au