Caroline MacDougall was working as Minister of Herbs, sourcing herbs from around the world for the Republic of Tea, when she had a dream. In the dream, she was harvesting herbs in a Costa Rican rainforest. She turned to the founder of the Republic of Tea and said, “The next product that I’m going to create is a caffeine-free cappuccino and the name of the product is Teeccino.” When she woke up, MacDougall decided her mission would be to market non-timber rainforest resources, which include plants and seeds, in order to preserve wild spaces while creating a health-conscious coffee alternative.
MacDougall is caffeine sensitive but loves the taste of coffee. In the 90s, when coffee houses caught on, she didn’t want to miss out. She had been an herbal products innovator since the 1970s, designing herbal beverages for companies like Yogi Tea Company, Organic India, Uncle Lee’s Tea, and the Republic of Tea. So when MacDougall founded Teeccino in 1994, she applied years of knowledge in herbal harvesting to her recipes.
MacDougall has always been passionate about preserving wild spaces, particularly rainforests. One of the primary ingredients in Teeccino blends is the ramon seed, a traditional Mayan food that comes from the rainforest’s upper canopy. “The way we preserve wild spaces is to enable the people who live with them or near them to earn income from them,” says MacDougall. “Otherwise they are vulnerable to deforestation.” Communities in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, where Teeccino sources ramon seeds, receive land-management concessions from the Guatemalan government. If they are making use of the rainforest resources, that land will not be deforested for timber. According to MacDougall, about 75% of Teeccino’s ingredients are harvested from wild spaces.
When Caroline MacDougall crafts a new blend for Teeccino, she seeks the sanctuary of her home kitchen. There she enters a “listening mode,” as she calls it, focusing on the flavor harmonies. Teeccino sells herbal coffee and herbal tea, made from organic roasted herbs blended with fruits, nuts, and spices. Each blend has its own unique taste and health benefits. Vanilla Nut was the first flavor and remains one of the most popular.
Beyond its core environmental strategy of supporting the ecosystems from which it harvests, Teeccino also supports a number of environmental non-profits. Through Teeccino’s Lid Program, which features a non-profit partner on each lid of the product, MacDougall wants to educate customers about how their cup of coffee is supporting environmental causes. Additionally, Teeccino’s You Save, We Give program invites customers to contribute a portion of the amount saved on their purchase to one of the featured nonprofits. Teeccino then matches the donations.
“Humans have an extraordinary capacity to be partners with nature,” MacDougall says.