Tonx Brews Up a New Approach to the Coffee Industry

Tonx, the L.A. based coffee purveyor, is using Braintree to power the payments behind a business that is introducing new great coffee to the world. We connected with Co-founder Nik Bauman and CTO Scott Rocher to learn more about the importance of payments for their company and how they’re using design to spread the joy of a great cup of Joe.

How did Tonx get started?

My previous venture, Foodzie, was an ecommerce marketplace for artisanal foods. It was a place for foodies to discover myriad options of almost everything. Except for one, coffee. It was impossible for me to get the best coffee producers to participate. I learned that in coffee, the businesses were only interested in retail or wholesale. There was no web-based coffee industry and independent roasters didn’t want to participate in one. The coffee industry was vastly underserving its customers. I saw an opening and knew that if we were able to pull people out of the coffee industry and put them online, we’d be able to build a really cool, one-of-a-kind company.

I partnered with Tony Konecny -- a former roaster at Seattle’s Victoria Coffee who also started Intelligentsia Coffee’s LA project. He had the coffee knowledge, I had the engineering know-how. Together, we created the coffee company of the future.

How are you changing the way people think about coffee?  

With coffee, people often find a brand they don’t hate and stick with it. There are so many low quality beans out there that once people find something passable they are afraid to switch. We want to change that. We want to expose people to high quality, fresh coffee. It’s incredible how often someone says they don’t like a certain origin or variety of coffee until they drink ours, and then they say how amazing it is. We only sell top quality beans that are roasted and delivered quickly, providing the freshest coffee. When you source, roast and ship high quality coffee, there’s a real opportunity to completely shatter people’s previous perceptions.  

Tonx does everything in house - source, ship, and roast - how do you do it all?

Software. Being an engineer first and foremost, I’ve always had the mindset that the software drives the business. Scott and I decided we were going to build custom tools. If you know what you need, just build it. But, we’re also very smart about when we can’t build our own. That’s why we partnered with Braintree. We knew that we needed a strong processor like Braintree to make the hardest part of the transaction, the payment process, feel non-existent.

What was the biggest payment challenge you faced when getting started?

There wasn’t a capable subscription management layer that focused on physical goods. Systems weren’t customizable. Edge-cases were everywhere. We ship every 28 days – but the management systems only had monthly or bi-monthly systems. We also have various layers of subscriptions and people can change between them when they like. It was too difficult to have someone upgrade or transfer information with the subscription. To provide seamless payments, we needed something different.

Why did you decide to work with Braintree?

Braintree lets us build on-top of the system with customizable code so we’re able to create what we need. Plus, the customer service is unrivaled. We did a customer migration with Braintree in June and it was amazing. Braintree’s customer support team was available on the phone whenever we needed them, ensuring that everything went smoothly. I can’t think of a lot of companies that are like that.

Braintree’s internal momentum and innovation also made the choice easy. As someone innovating an industry, you want your partners to have the drive you do. With Venmo and Venmo Touch, Braintree is innovating and progressing the payments industry in the same fashion we are with coffee – it was a no brainer.

How is Braintree integrated into the Tonx website and how are you using the platform?

We want the payment portion to happen and then get out of the way. And that’s exactly how Braintree is integrated; in a way that you don’t know it’s there.

We have three pillars at Tonx -- coffee, design and software. If people get stuck on the design and software portions, the coffee doesn’t matter. Invisible design is the entire experience for Tonx and Braintree makes that possible. There’s not much of a substitute in ecommerce for having an easy payment experience. If you have a brutal one, you’re not going to make much money.

How do you expect Braintree to help your business grow?

The full arsenal of products Braintree has is awesome. With Venmo Touch, Braintree is setting us up for success and making it easier on us and the customer. Being able to have one-click check out where the user has to do almost nothing because they’ve already used a Venmo Touch powered platform before, is a sale we may not have had otherwise. We’re going to do incredible things in the future; we can focus on those things and execute fast, because Braintree is powering the backend.

Jay Parekh Jay is Director of BD, focusing on product partnerships such as PayPal One Touch, Apple Pay, and Android Pay, and driving merchant adoption of key strategic initiatives. More posts by this author

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