By Rebecca Foster-Goodman Finding a connection between Argentinian cowboys and a Lake Forest High School graduate might sound like quite a stretch, but a new invention for drinking coffee proves it is possible.
Nick Yehle grew up in Lake Forest, attended Lake Forest High School and moved back to Lake Forest after graduating from Denison University. He has always been an avid outdoorsman, attending his first wilderness camp at the age of seven. As he got older, he became a camp counselor in Minnesota.
“You can bring it anywhere to enjoy a quick, robust cup of coffee,” says Nick Yehle about the JoGo Straw. It was at this camp that he met Joey Jones -- also an outdoorsman seeking out new adventures. This spirit led Joey on a two-year motorcycle journey from St Paul, Minn. to Patagonia in 2018. It was on this journey that he was given a bombilla, a straw-like tool used by Argentinian cowboys to drink loose-leaf tea. The straw had a filter at the base, which kept the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup as the tea was consumed through the straw.
In 2020, Nick and Joey were leading a canoe trip through northern Minnesota, when Nick suggested they make coffee. They were losing daylight and didn’t have time to make a traditional outside cup of coffee that involved separating the grounds from the coffee. That’s when Joey pulled out his bombilla. “If we had something like this, we could drink coffee right now,” he said. They attempted to drink the coffee through the bombilla, but the holes in the filter were designed for tea leaves. Their mouths filled with coffee grounds. And with that, the idea for the JoGo Straw was born.
Joey and Nick got to work creating prototypes and finally settled on a design that was functional, convenient and portable. The holes in the filter were much smaller, preventing coffee grounds from entering the straw. They launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2021, setting a goal of $10,000 for manufacturing.
Nick couldn’t believe the response they received. “Kickstarter exceeded all expectations,” he said. “We raised over $350,000 in 30 days from people in 80 countries around the world.”
The JoGo Straw allows you to brew and drink coffee out of the same cup. The long, stainless steel straw has a mesh filter at the end, which separates the grounds from the liquid. This allows you to drink the coffee without filling your mouth with coffee grounds. The filter is removable, allowing for easy cleaning and reuse. Nick believes their invention – which is in the final stages of testing -- is a gamechanger for outdoors lovers. “The JoGo Straw is super portable, flavorful and 100% sustainable,” he said. “You can bring it anywhere to enjoy a quick, robust cup of coffee.”
Nick and Joey are determined to give back to indigenous people around the globe. Five percent of all JoGo Straw proceeds will go to Survival International, an organization which protects land rights of tribal people.
“We wouldn’t be here without the bombilla, which was created by tribes in Argentina,” Nick said. “We want to show our respect for the culture that brought the JoGo Straw to us.”
The JoGo Straw is available online at www.jogostraw.com.