CH25: Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a whole new way of doing business started with coconut water

When Douglas Riboud and Justin Guilbert founded Harmless Harvest in 2009, the idea was simple enough: Make great coconut water that tastes as much like the real deal as possible. “At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is stay true to the ingredients,” explains Riboud, recently returned from Thailand, the site of Harmless Harvest’s groves. But keeping the 100% raw, organic juice preserved on the trip back home to the States took some innovation. Enter High Pressure Processing, or HPP, which uses thousands of pounds of pressure to extend the shelf life. It’s not easy, but as Riboud notes, it’s “one of the best ways to preserve that taste and authenticity” without chemicals or heating.

That same sense of mindfulness and determination plays out in Harmless Harvest’s approach to business in general. The company is certified Fair for Life—think Fair Trade on steroids—and devoted to providing a living wage and decent conditions to all its employees and partners. “We wanted every bottle we sell to have a positive impact on the supply chain,” says Riboud. The strategy is working. Riboud and Guilbert’s coconut water has proven quite popular, even without traditional marketing. “We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can,” Riboud explains, “and let people decide for themselves.”

Read more about Douglas Riboud and Justin Guilbert, and Harmless Harvest in their full CH25 profile.