Mate isn’t just a drink; it’s a way of life. “It truly represents friendship, dialogue, and hospitality,” says Guayaki co-founder Alex Pryor.  “[To share a mate] is to share a moment with one another, with family or friends.”

Driven by this sentiment, college friends Alex Pryor from Buenos Aires and David Karr from California (seen in the image above) joined with three other friends to share mate with a part of the world to which it was unknown – North America. The founders of Guayaki were committed to providing their customers with the finest yerba mate, while still operating sustainably. Since its very first days, Guayaki has upheld its goal of protecting and restoring South American rainforests, while empowering the native forest people.

Using a market driven restoration business model, Guayaki connects customers’ purchases of mate products directly to farming communities in South America. Farmers sustainably harvest organic yerba mate in the rainforest, which generates an income for their communities. With this renewable, stable income, communities are able to restore their lands and improve their lives.

Guayaki’s sustainable model encourages the preservation of forests because mate is grown best in the shade. Therefore, farmers have an incentive to protect native trees while growing mate, and new seeds that are planted around mate for shade increase biodiversity and reduce CO2. Thus far, Guayaki has protected 27,758 acres of rainforest and plants on average 50,000 trees every year. Their Mission is to restore 200,000 acres of South American Atlantic rainforest and create over 1000 living wage jobs by 2020.

Although these practices don’t yield as many mate leaves as large-scale commercial producers do, Guayaki prioritizes quality and sustainability over quantity.

yerba mate guayaki

Guayaki’s partner farmers harvesting mate.


An industrial large-scale mate producer.

Guayaki is a certified B Corporation, and the only mate company in the world that is both certified organic and certified Fair Trade. And it isn’t just their mate that is sustainable. Even the packaging is made with recycled, biodegradable materials in a chemical free facility. “The biggest challenge out there is the internalization of the social and environmental costs of producing a product,” explains Pryor. “So Guayaki – this is what it does. That is where it has an impact.”

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Photo Credit: Sierra, Guayaki, Flickr