One Stripe Chai Co. began when I took the reins at Belltower coffee at Mt. Tabor in Portland Oregon. I wasn’t super happy with the chai we were serving so I started trying other vendors. My efforts, however, proved fruitless- everything was very sweet or very weak, and sometimes both. I then spoke the most dangerous words in the english language. “How hard can it be?” After a bit of research I made my first attempt and the result was so spicy it made my boss’s eyes water. I kind of liked it the way it was… but it did have a nasty tendency to make children and the elderly cry so I kept at it.
After almost 6 months of tinkering, I had something that was much stronger, darker, and more authentic than anything I could get delivered to my cafe, so I started serving it. I thought that was the end of that, but a few months after putting it on the menu, I brought a new barista on board named Farah…
I have to start by explaining my relationship with chai. I'm Indian so drinking chai is basically in my blood. I have memories with chai that most people in the US have with coffee. That experience of being young and watching all the "adults" drinking this hot beverage religiously, anxiously waiting until I was "old enough" to have a mug of my own were some of my first. I still remember getting my first cup in a small light amber mug with a matching saucer which I used to cool the chai down and slurp up. At mosque, it was a ritual to meet by the chai in the back courtyard where white Styrofoam cups flooded the scene. We dunked our Ritz crackers in the beverage as we caught up on school, life, and who-was-dating-who. In college I abandoned my chai and Ritz ritual for a new libation- coffee. Coffee was the new partner in crime through all-night study sessions and long walks across campus in the winter.
Soon enough after college I was reacquainted with chai, but I still avoided ordering chai lattes at coffee shops because I always found them to be too sweet or incredibly bland. Fast forward about 5 years, and I found myself trying Joshua's chai brew and blurting out "wait, you made this?!" Taste testing the brew as Joshua perfected it, the idea of One Stripe Chai Co. fell into our laps randomly and serendipitously, the way most great things tend to fall into laps.