BONDI CHAI – Behind the scenes

Here is a short interview with Martin Buggy the creator of Bondi Chai – You see the products everywhere here is one half of the person bringing them to you…

1. How do you get started in your business?
We found ‘chai latte’ while on hols in the US (to watch the ball drop on the new millennium in Times Square). Bought some to bring home because it wasn’t heard of in Australia. Called the US brand owners when our packs ran out and they told us that they didn’t sell the product in Australia… unless we wanted to sell it for them! We didn’t (we had a successful PR/Marketing consultancy at the time and zip knowledge about the food industry) but I undertook to chat with some food distributors about bringing it into the country. I found one (and only one!) willing to ‘take a punt’. A couple of years later, with sales starting to get exciting, the US brand owners cashed out and the new owners didn’t want to be bothered with Australia. By now we were convinced that the chai latte phenomenon was going to take root in this country so we decided to create our product and brand. It took around 8 months to create recipes, a brand and packaging that we loved. We financed our new venture with a $150k ‘line-of-credit’ against our home. Bondi Chai Latte’s ‘official birthday’ is July, 2005. We sold just 17kg of our first 1 tonne batch in the first month of business. Today we sell a Bondi Chai Latte somewhere in the world every 2 seconds.

2. What’s your favourite product?
We don’t actually sell this variety of our product, but I actually think that a teaspoon of each of our two varieties – Club Cinnamon and Vanilla Honey – makes the BEST chai latte. (check out the range below) 


3. What is the best part of being your own boss?
Being able to live life on our terms. The completely ‘outsourced’ business model we built (more than 2 years before Tim Ferris’s 4-Hour Work Week) was mapped out carefully to create a business that supported a great lifestyle, not the other way around. We have always been able to run our business from where ever in the world we can get a phone or internet signal. We deliberately chose a place to live that is uplifting and energising while giving us easy access to everywhere in the world (Port Stephens – aka Paradise), we travel extensively for work and pleasure (for up to 8 weeks at a time), Melissa and I spend 24 hours a day together, we’re blessed with good health and we don’t ever take it for granted. Every 12 weeks, we completely remove ourselves from our business and ‘go away and hide’ for about a week – our product genuinely enhances people’s enjoyment of their lives and they take time to tell us how much they appreciate it. That feedback enriches us –
All that in a nutshell:
Something really nice either happens, and/or we make happen, every single day.

4. What do you do for yourself in the name of self care?
Eat well, don’t drink alcohol/smoke, exercise (gym at least 4 times a week), read (lots), meditate, spend time in nice places, be purposely grateful, laugh (lots), work with intent, develop new/stronger relationships, watch movies (lots), strive to be happy.  


5. How does your business care for the environment?
Our product is a concentrated formulation – the dosage rate is only half that of other similar products – so packaging, handling/delivery (truck movements) are all at least halved. Our ingredients are sourced from companies who demonstrate genuine environmental stewardship and share our own values. The packaging materials we use are all recyclable.


6. What is your life motto?
Hard to pick a single one. Here’s a few I’ve picked up along my 61-year journey so far…
Enjoy yourself: You only go round once!
Life’s short… hurry!
Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.
This too shall pass.

7. Are your products Australian made?

8. How does your business give back to the community?
We support numerous smaller charities/community groups either with product for fund-raising or by direct contribution. Our product has always been packaged by companies who employ people with a disability/acquired brain injury. Our company makes a significant donation each month. We have a team of 6 direct employees (including Melissa and I) each of whom has two chances each year to personally make the monthly donation to their favourite cause, telling us all in an email why they chose that cause. We support a budding entrepreneur that we met on a trip to Africa (he was our guide). We ‘loaned’ him the money to buy a new motorcycle with which to start up his own taxi service (at last report it was doing very well). We have several Kiva funds running – I’ve lost count of how many loans/re-loans our funds have made.
9. How do your products help regular people with self care/relaxation?
The booming coffee-centric café industry in this country left a lot of non-coffee drinkers ‘out in the cold’. Chai latte helps them (often at a subconscious level) to re-establish their own ‘social cred’ and Bondi Chai’s creaminess and fantastic taste helps them to really enjoy their café experience. When all around you are drinking warm, sweet, frothy milk drinks (aka cappuccino or café latte) it’s kinda not fun to sit with a flat, uninteresting looking tea or ‘kiddies drink’ hot chocolate. When you, too, can order a frothy milk ‘latte’ that looks like a café latte, has a wonderful aroma (that even attracts coffee drinkers) and tastes like ambrosia, now you can feel better about yourself as you mentally go from being the ‘feather duster’ to the ‘rooster’ in your social circle.

The spices in chai latte are known collectively as ‘comfort’ spices, that is they are warm, sweet and ‘comforting’. The creaminess of the frothed milk (whether dairy, soy or nut) also adds a sense comfort and finally the aroma of the spices in warm milk creates a sense of well-being and comfort. There are books written and ancient folklore (but less science) around the beneficial effects on health/wellbeing of the volatile elements in spices such as cinnamon, clove, anise and ginger. While the anti-oxidants in tea are widely believed to aid in neutralising the effect of the potentially lethal ‘free radicals’ to which we are increasingly exposed in modern society.
Bondi Chai is made with only natural ingredients, is gluten free, low fat, low caffeine (about the same as green tea, half that of regular tea and up a quarter that of espresso coffee) and has no ‘industrial nasties’ or trans-fatty acids.

It has been recommended by nutritionists for school children of all ages, in aged-care facilities and hospitals.

Even coffee and tea drinkers, concerned about their caffeine intake, turn to Bondi Chai in the afternoons.

10. What is your best selling product/why?
Our Club Cinnamon variety – the ‘chai drinkers’ chai’ is our most popular hot drink. But our Vanilla Honey lends itself more easily to iced drinks, frappes etc or in desserts such as ice-cream, cheesecake, brulee, custards etc.






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