As many great stories start, RISE Brewing Co. began with a road trip. In 2014, Grant Gyesky and some friends, including Jarrett McGovern and Justin Weinstein, stopped at a gas station on a hunt for a pick-me-up to get them through a night of driving.
“The options were limited: we could choose from processed coffee with a ton of fat and sugar or energy drinks that were full of all kinds of chemicals that were entirely unknown to us,” explains Gyesky, who now serves as the CEO of the company. “We spent the next three hours keeping ourselves awake by brainstorming ideas to solve this very common occurrence. In the end, we decided that we would make a better tasting, better-for-you organic coffee beverage that could replace the existing options.”
And so the idea for RISE Brewing Co., whose first brewery was housed in Gyesky’s Cos Cob, CT, garage, took shape. But it was a serendipitous accident that created their signature style: A friend recommended that the founders—Gyesky, McGovern and Weinstein as well as a fourth partner, Hudson Gaines-Ross—preserve their coffee by keeping it in a keg and adding nitrogen to it. “One day we accidently put the nitrogen in the wrong valve, and the result was a beautifully cascading, creamy and sweet coffee similar to a Guinness,” says Gyesky. “That was the lightbulb moment when we realized that we had something special.”
Today, the line features seven beverages, like Classic Latte and Mocha Latte—as well as their newly launched Organic Oat Milk, the company’s first foray into a non-coffee beverage. There’s a brewery on Fairfield Avenue in Stamford, CT, and two cafes in NYC—plus the drinks can be bought online and in stores. And in the future, they’re planning to make them available to even more people.
Gyesky, who first became a coffee lover after spending time in Costa Rica, calls their launch more of a snowball effect over time. “The greatest driver for us to keep turning that snowball over was people’s genuine reaction to the product,” he explains. “This truly has been a product-led company where the coffee itself has opened doors and created opportunities we never would have been able to predict.”
Three of the original founders—Gyesky, McGovern and Weinstein—are still at the company and Gyesky calls working with friends “99 percent amazing.” He says: “To have close to 30 years [of] experience of helping each other out of jams builds a foundation that is tough to replicate through interviews and resumes.”
As for advice for others looking to start their own venture, for Gyesky it’s about truly loving it—both what you’re building and the product you’re making. “You’ll need to live, breathe and sleep what you are doing, and those closest to you have to be willing to support your obsession,” he says. “Surround yourself with supportive people, and don’t underestimate the power of a network of fellow entrepreneurs.”