Grean Matcha co-founder Andrew Kim pours matcha into a Grean Matcha latte. Photo by Curran Nielsen.

Matcha fanatics lined the street outside of OHSUN Banchan Deli and Café in Pioneer Square on Saturday, May 25, to get a taste of Grean Matcha, a new Seattle-based matcha company started by Andrew Kim and Steven Kim.

The event marked the third public pop-up for Grean Matcha since its inception a year ago, attracting over 180 people who came to sample the various matcha flavors offered.

The two founders are both graduates of the University of Washington.

Andrew Kim, from Tacoma, and Steven Kim, from Federal Way, were aware of each other’s reputations before becoming business partners.

“Before I met Andrew, he had a reputation for being a career driven dude,” Steven Kim said. “I really liked his passion, his energy for [starting a cafe]. I heard when he was in college he won all the [business] awards and competitions.”

Andrew Kim echoed these sentiments, acknowledging Steven’s skills.

“From my end, I heard Steven was a marketing guru,” Andrew Kim said. “Most creative guy with his photography, someone who just makes stuff happen.”

At a friends going away party, Andrew overheard Steven talking about opening a cafe, sparking a conversa-tion about launching a matcha business and ultimately leading to the creation of Grean Matcha.

The pair said that they found that they both had valuable skills that would be able to make creating and running a matcha business successful.

“Andrew had skills that I didn’t have,” Steven Kim said. “In college I honed my photography, graphic design and more creative brand building skills. Andrew honed more finance, accounting, supply chain and all that. When we talked, we said it seems our skills are fit and we can make it happen.”

The name Grean Matcha combines “green,’’ the iconic color of matcha, and “tea”. Their vision extends beyond matcha to include a tea house element as they work to eventually open a cafe in Seattle.

The pair draws inspiration from Asian cafe culture, which they describe as more elevated with a strong emphasis on presentation.

“All of our matcha is hand whisked in front of the customer,” Andrew Kim said. “We wanted to make it more of an experience rather than just going through a line and grabbing a drink. It’s kind of a ceremony in a way.” Andrew Kim’s parents immigrated from Korea and Steven Kim’s from Vietnam, influences that significantly inspire Grean Matcha.

“We incorporated a lot from our heritage,” Andrew Kim said. “Just a lot of what we used to drink growing up and applying them to the drinks we sell.”

Both emphasized the hard work their parents have done for them, seeing Gre-
an Matcha as a way to give back.

“I wanted to create something that could help my parents and support them but also just a place where I can draw friends and family and community closer,” Andrew Kim said.

Andrew Kim also shared how cafes have played a significant role in building his relationships.

“I would say most special moments in my life are like conversations I’ve had with people over coffee and matcha at a cafe somewhere,” Andrew Kim said.

The sense of community at their pop-ups is obvious. Friends with cafe experience often join them in making the matcha.

“We have a good community who have been willing to volunteer and support us,” Andrew Kim said.

A lavender Oreo matcha is prepared at the Grean Matcha pop-up. Photo by Curran Nielsen.

Grean Matcha currently offers matcha with a variety of cheese foam flavors, including lavender, coconut pandan, ube Oreo, hojicha and black sesame. They also have their take on matcha lemonades, called “Matchade”.

Matchade is a combination with sparkling water and matcha tonic with lemon puree to make matcha lemonade, which they thought of from inspiration of Korean ‘ade’ drinks including grapeade, strawberryade and watermelonade.

“We’re taking a matcha latte and just making it a bit more creative and elevat-
ed in ways that we’ve seen take place,” Steven Kim said.

The pair’s goal is to open a cafe in the U District, with its thriving university population, and they love the full circle idea of being able to return to their alma mater and open the business there.

As Grean is still in its early stages, the pair is learning from mistakes and changing their mindset along the way. They shared an anecdote about their journey with creating their cheese foam recipe, which they said took about three months.

”We were so stuck on making things perfect it stopped us from progressing further when I think we could have been [further] in that moment,” Andrew Kim said.

Looking forward, both Andrew and Steven Kim aim at keeping Grean a fun project and look positively at the future as they continue planning pop-ups and work towards their goal of opening a cafe in Seattle.

“We want to one day be able to say that we serve the best matcha in Seattle,”
Andrew Kim said.

Grean Matcha is still working on the finalized date for the next pop-up next month. Keep up with their journey on their Instagram @drinkgrean.

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