A family company

Caskai was founded by a husband and wife team, Joel Jelderks and Uschi Zimmermann in 2017 with the support from friends, family, former colleagues and business associates. Their backgrounds in beverages and interest in specialty coffee, healthy living, and upcycling came together to form Caskai.

Roots in Specialty Coffee

Uschi, a native of Salzburg, Austria, is the founder of Panama Varietals Coffee a green coffee importer of Panamanian specialty coffee and Goldkind Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster, both based in Austria. It was Uschi's interest in coffee that led to their involvement with cascara. Her clients in Europe began requesting cascara back in 2013. Joel joined the business in 2015. He immediately began working with cascara as he had been a fan since Uschi first started importing it. He loved the flavor and found it was the uplift he needed during the long, dark, cold, and foggy Austrian winters that settled around their home. Never willing to give up his morning coffee, cascara tea, however, became his afternoon winter favorite and eventually a pre-workout drink.

Lifetime of Upcycling

The theme of upcycling has been part of Joel's life from the beginning. Joel grew up in Portland and the Colombia Gorge area of Oregon. From a young age, his Mom had their home's basement full of antique furniture that she painstakingly stripped, renovated, and sold. She eventually turned her antique business into buying and restoring old homes.

The bug ran in the family. Joel's grandfather used to buy and sell used canning equipment. He would find it and sell it in old factories and sell it overseas. It eventually led him to invest in warehouses in Monterey's Cannery Row, back when no one wanted them. His grandfather wanted the equipment. Still, the owners at the time would only sell the building and equipment as a package, so he invested in the premises long before Cannery Row became what it is today.

Joel didn't realize he had the bug until he began working at Second Base, a used sporting goods store in Seattle, back in the '90s. His penchant for finding, buying and selling quality used and antique sporting goods surfaced, and he realized he had the family bug.

But the interest didn't stop with Joel, Uschi also had the bug. While living in Panama and working for Red Bull, the two formed a company that renovated old buildings in Panama's Casco Viejo district, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The neighborhood became their home long before it was the hot tourist and nightlife destination that it is today.

Caskai more than just a new product

"Caskai, due to its cascara roots, represents a new way of looking things, people, the way we consume, and our impact on the planet," says Uschi. Turning something unwanted, or perceived as having little value and often overshadowed, into something highly desired is an age-old and powerful concept.