On May 5, our friends at Rumi Spice go up against the sharks of ABC’s Shark Tank. Join us for a Shark Tank viewing party, wherein co-founders Kimberly Jung, Keith Alaniz, and Emily Miller seek funding to grow Rumi’s mission to sustainably source saffron in Afghanistan.
The Rumi Spice team and story is nothing short of amazing, so much so that The New York Times profiled their company in 2016. Kim, Keith, and Emily are all former Army officers who have lived and worked in Afghanistan. They joined forces with Carol Wang, a lawyer, who has also worked in the country, and together the team is working to sustainably source saffron, connect with local farmers, and employ more than 300 women in Herat, Afghanistan. Not only is Rumi committed to empowering Afghan women and bolstering the country’s economy, but they’re providing some of the highest-quality saffron and spices.
Carrie Nahabedian, Chef & Owner of NAHA loves Rumi saffron because it’s, “so fragrant and intoxicating, with a stunning intense floral scent. It has raised the level of quality and sophistication for saffron.”
Saffron is considered the world’s most valuable spice because it’s difficult to grow and painstaking to harvest, making it incredibly expensive. The spice is collected from the stigmas of the crocus flower—each flower producing just three stigmas—which then have to be hand-separated from the petals and dried.
It takes around 150 crocus flowers to produce a single gram of saffron. Not an easy process anywhere, but especially not in war-torn Afghanistan. For Keith, Kim, Emily, and Carol, that was part of the drive to establish Rumi.
In 2015, Rumi worked with 34 Afghan farmers and employed 75 women in their processing plant, and has seen exponential growth in the time since. In a country where 80% of the population works in agriculture, Rumi is integrating into and growing the existing economy alongside local farmers and Afghan citizens.
Forbidden Root encountered Rumi through FamilyFarmed, a food start-up accelerator, and was inspired by the team’s story—and, of course, the saffron’s quality. When it came time to source saffron for Fernetic, our collaboration beer with Fernet-Branca, using Rumi saffron was a no-brainer.
BeerAdvocate's Todd Alstrom gave Fernetic a perfect 100 rating, stating it's, "a magical elixir that combines everything that I love about dark beers and Fernet-Branca." No doubt in part to the high-quality spices and botanics used in the brewing process.
So in honor of our friends at Rumi hitting the shark tank, we’re throwing a viewing party complete with saffron-inspired dishes and a special tapping of Fernetic.
The episode airs at 8pm on Friday, May 5. Hope you can join us!