Rip van Wafels unveiled a brand-new website this month (featuring awesome infographics) detailing the unique, ritual consumption of its product. Beyond creating a deliciously authentic Dutch-inspired stroopwafel (two thin layers of wafel surrounding a caramel filling), is determined to redefine the American coffee break. Founder Abhishek “Rip” Pruisken describes how placing their wafel over your coffee can enrich your entire day:
“We believe that a short break goes a long way. It’s important to unplug and relax from time to time to put things into perspective. A Rip van Wafels with coffee allows you to do just that. So we are not just selling a product, we aim to improve people’s lifestyles as a whole via their coffee breaks.
Americans are willing to wait in line for 20min get a quality cup of coffee. We believe they are also willing to wait 2 min for their coffee to cool down. While it cools, the steam will heat the filling and infuse the aroma of the coffee in the wafel. The ritual makes coffee a more engaging experience.
Our product is also healthier than the baked goods in coffee shops, with only 150 calories and 8g of sugar you can indulge responsibly.”
I’m pretty sure this ritual needs a name (Strooping? Wafeling? Or, probably my favorite Dutch word ever, swaffelen? Yes, there is a word for that…) but I’ll leave that question to the experts…
I love the website’s timeline of the founding of the company. It’s a pretty cool story (go Brown! I’m feeling lots of alma mater pride) and encapsulates the playful brand voice. It also does much of my job for me in summarizing how Rip (and co-founder Marco) built this company from the ground-up:
- 2006: Where are the wafels? Amsterdam native Rip Pruisken arrives at Brown University. Rip heads to the dining hall for koffietijd—a mid morning coffee break enjoyed with a warm wafel. Finding decent coffee but no wafels, Rip is horrified to learn that most America is without his favorite snack.
- 2009: Starting out of a dorm room? Three years and 1,625 wafel-less koffietijds later, Rip’s had enough. He buys a waffle iron and begins pressing the first batch of homemade stroopwafels in his dorm. His cookies are inedible. Undeterred, he tries again…and again.
- 2009: Visiting Wafel Factories in Holland? Rip visits Holland to learn from the wafel masters.
- 2010: First Sale on the Main Green. Rip sets up shop on the campus Main Green and slings handmade wafels to kids on their way to class. One strange day in late April, hundreds of confused-looking students pour onto the quad clamoring for a bite. He can’t keep up with demand.
From there, Rip raised preliminary funds from a kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2010, recruited a co-founder (Marco De Leon), joined and won the Brown Entrepreneurship Program startup competition, traveled around the country promoting the product, and relocated to San Francisco. They’ve proven so popular here that Rip van Wafels has just recently moved into a brand new office!
Rip’s not the only one to have identified and attempted to remedy our country’s lack of stroopwafels (and our ever-busy, Starbucks to-go excuse of a coffee break…). However he’s the only one approaching the market via the coffee shop scene (e.g., Honey Stinger makes a stroopwafel aimed at the cyclist market, though I’m not sure I really see the product-market-fit there…). Although Rip van Wafels has a strong presence in Bay Area coffee shops, there’s a ton of opportunity for growth: both geographic as well as product line. On what’s next for the company, Rip shares,
“Specialty coffee and tea varieties differ in flavor profiles. We will be developing new Wafel flavor varieties to compliment the flavor profiles of these hot beverages.”
Rip is leading the company in its fundraising efforts (which, as of last Monday is officially legal to share publicly via the JOBS act) and, although they’ve gotten a majority of their commitments for funding in place, they’re happy to meet with investors who are passionate about coffee, consumer products, and/or food. You can reach out to Rip directly via email.
If you’re in the Bay Area, here’s a list of coffee shops where Rip van Wafels are sold. If you’re not in the area, you can order the product online. Or, even better, let your local cafe know that they’re missing out on providing the ultimate coffee break experience.
- Atlas Café (SF)
- Beacon Coffee (SF)
- Coffee Bar (SF)
- Epicenter Café (SF)
- Haus (SF)
- Martha & Bros (SF)
- Mojo Bicycle Café (SF)
- Ritual Coffee Roasters (SF)
- The Station (SF)
- Sugar Café (SF)
- Coupa Café (Palo Alto)
- Zombie Runner – Café Zombie (Palo Alto)
- Red Rock Coffee (Mountain View)
- Chromatic Coffee (San Jose)