The voice of the late Bob Marley could be heard over loudspeakers singing, “I don’t want to wait in vain for your love” as his daughter Karen Marley called out to shoppers at the in Mar Vista: “Come on over and try some coffee!”
Marley Coffee, to be exact.
Karen and her brother Rohan Marley, were on hand to offer samples of the family-produced beverage and to tell customers the story behind it.
Rohan, who lives in Beverly Hills, said he started farming in Jamaica in 1999. When he toured the landscape of his new farm, he found coffee plants growing on the property.
It took about eight years before he was ready to launch his business, though. He partnered with entrepreneur and longtime friend Shane Whittle to develop packaging, shipping and certification of the coffee. He also visited Ethiopia to study coffee brewing methods.
Rohan finally launched Marley Coffee in 2009 and the local Whole Foods has been carrying the brand for about six months, Store Manager Soloman Constanza told Patch.
“At this point, we want to let everyone know the story behind us,” Rohan said.
With the motto “Stir. It. Up” and individual coffee names like “Buffalo Soldier” and “One Love,” the company clearly evokes the family namesake. Rohan said he also drew on his father’s dreams to one day become a farmer.
However, Rohan noted the coffee also aims to encourage sustainable living and organic, fair-trade practices. The brand prides itself on its ethical foundation, he said.
“[The coffee] is right in line with our sustainable beliefs…and giving back to the community,” Marketing Supervisor Katina Stallworth said.
Hollywood resident Eric Schwerner stopped by on his way to visit a friend, picked up a sample cup of coffee and leaned in to address Karen.
“I’m a big fan of your dad’s work,” he said.
Plenty of other admiring fans stopped by. Mar Vista resident Bob Jacobs told Karen that he named his dog Marley in the late 1970s.
However, there were also people who were interested in actually tasting the coffee.
“It’s a little over-roasted, but it’s strong,” said Mar Vista resident Jeff Penso. “It wakes you up.”
City councilman and Mar Vista resident Bill Rosendahl came by for a taste-test on his way to shop at the market. Adding that he was a regular coffee man, Rosendahl took a sip.
“Delicious,” he declared. “Rich body. Just delicious.”
Whole Foods hopes to boost sales of the coffee with its public outreach. Despite the Marley name, the sticker price of $39.95 for 12 ounces of the Jamaica Blue Mountain roast may turn off some consumers, Constanza said. The other roasts cost around $14-$16 for a 12-ounce package.
Nonetheless, the Marley family came out in force to promote their product. Rohan arrived with his son, Zion, brother Aliras and family friend Jahni Cole. All were wearing shirts emblazoned with a gold lion and the words “Marley Coffee.”
The symbol of a lion, also silhouetted in gold on the packaging of the coffee transmits the ultimate message of the Marley family, Rohan said.
“Every man, woman and child should have a lion's heart," he declared. “Be brave.”