Harmless Harvest

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Founded: 2009
Number of retail locations: 5,000
Rate of growth: doubles every six months, since 2011
Lesson: If you’ve suddenly got it, you better have it.

In 2009, Justin Guilbert and Douglas Riboud left their jobs in software development and finance to bottle and distribute raw (pressurized rather than pasteurized) coconut water. Harmless Harvest quickly gained a following, thanks in part to an aggressive social-media campaign and fanatical reviews on sites like Amazon. All was going great till this summer, when demand momentarily overwhelmed supply. A sampling of Facebook comments during the drought:

All of a sudden it’s impossible to find Harvest in NYC … What is going on? The deli downstairs doesn’t carry it anymore, The Doughnut Plant doesn’t either and last time I checked Whole Food didn’t either …

Hey! Where the heck did you guys go?

My Whole Foods in kildeer has had a HH drought for months!!!!!!! What gives?

What happened?!!!! Went into Whole Foods Market on the second day of summer and NO Harmless Harvest in sight! NONE!!!

I am going through withdrawal.

Where can I get the boxes or cases of coconut water? WE THIRSTY!!!!!!!!!

Where have y’all been?!? I’m still waiting, 2 months now, @ Whole Foods Portland Oregon. That’s too long! (drinking other coconut water and not loving it)

We need more, plant more coconut groves

Just tell me——when? When will we see you again?

You guys keep posting pics of these nicely stocked shelves full of HH. I think I’m going to start taking pics and posting my local stores and their EMPTY shelves!

Harmless Harvest