When we sip our delicious Starbuck’s latte, or hot mug of tea from Peet’s, we usually don’t contemplate what went into making our tasty drink, or consider the people who worked hard to make it the best it can be. One of the people we have to thank for our high quality drinks from these fine establishments is Mr. David Beeman, one of our world’s experts in the water treatment industry.
David has worked with companies such as Starbucks and Peet’s to help them ensure their water-based coffee products are top-notch. When SOMA reached out to David for his expertise in helping to create the world’s first eco friendly water filter, he was up to the formidable challenge — and the result has been nothing short of revolutionary in the world of sustainable design.
He generously shares with us some inside scoop on his personal journey in the water treatment industry, his connection with SOMA, and their combined determination to offer the world better water.
Travel, invention, and real-world experience
K: You’re known as the water filter expert. What led you to this field?
DB: I think my training has more to do with my personality than anything else. Catholic school educated, I left high school early, graduated, and had no money — but I still managed to travel the world for a few years.
My experiences included living with Indians in central Mexico; living on a boat, and sailing around the world; and finally coming back to graduate from UCSB with a sociology degree. I was definitely a hippie back in those days! I had the idea (and still do) that one person could change the world. I began to study acupuncture and homeopathy. From there, I picked up chemistry, which then led me to a chance encounter with someone in the water treatment field.
At that time, reverse osmosis was a newly discovered process, and through it I saw the opportunity to provide good and healthy water to the world. I self-educated at the UCLA research library, reading everything I could on reverse osmosis and carbon filtration. The next 10 years were spent gaining practical, ‘real-world’ experience, learning how to apply science to practical applications.
Changing the way we drink coffee
K: Can you tell us about your connection with Starbucks?
DB: My love of food, coffee, and water lead me to invent a type of water that enhanced the flavor of coffee. This invention put me in contact with Starbucks, a little company out of Seattle that was having water problems, and needed to standardize their flavor profile.
I developed a series of water treatment devices that provided a tight water quality range to Starbucks, which enabled them to standardize their flavor profile and reduce maintenance costs dramatically. From there, my desire to perfect coffee flavor led me to write the manual on water quality chemistry for coffee. This was published by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, and has subsequently turned into the standard for coffee cupping labs worldwide.
The SOMA revolution begins…
K: How did you come to be involved with the SOMA team?
DB: I met an associate of Mike del Ponte’s at a coffee trade show. We had a lengthy discussion on water chemistry, and a few weeks later Mike called me up. He asked me to develop a carbon filter that would be compostable, and exceed the demands of any existing carbon filter on the market — without the aid of plastic resins.
K: What is that most important thing that everyone needs to know about water filtration?
DB: As odd as it may seem in this modern world, I really think that trust is the most important factor in water treatment. People need to trust that whomever they’re dealing with has their best interests at heart. It’s easy to produce a filter that reduces chlorine — I could have done that at a fraction of the cost, and the filter would have passed certification for chlorine.
But, I wanted — and SOMA demanded! — to give their customer the highest quality product possible. They wanted me to make something that I would use for myself, and for my grandchildren.
What the SOMA filter is designed to do, it does better than anything on the market — in an environmental way.
The most important thing in life is that you find and follow your calling. If you do that, you’ll find fulfillment, happiness, and a positive impact on the world. Everyone, including entrepreneurs, can benefit from following their heart.
– Mike del Ponte