WHO WE ARE
David Rio is an award-winning, premium chai and tea company based in San Francisco, California, offering customers only the finest products domestically and around the world. Established by co-founders David Scott Lowe and Rio Miura in 1996, we first started as a line of specialty tea, coffee, and accessories through an all Japanese catalog, and transformed into America’s premier chai company. Today, David Rio is available in cafés, restaurants, and specialty food stores across the U.S. and in over 50 other countries.
We also opened our first retail location based in San Francisco, Chai Bar by David Rio, where David Rio products are served.
At David Rio, we strive to be the global premium chai brand, exceeding customers' expectations, offering exceptional taste and quality, and delivering meaningful customer service. We also strive to earn the respect and trust of all business partners, giving back to the communities that are instrumental in our success.
Our objective is to be the premier brand in the industry and deliver a rich, indulgent chai experience that will keep even the most discerning chai drinker coming back for more!
David Rio was founded by Rio Miura and David Scott Lowe in 1996. They first began selling specialty teas, coffees, and accessories through an all-Japanese language catalog for export to Japan, Rio's native country. David Rio’s first chai,
Elephant Vanilla Chai®, was intended to be sold in Japan only, but immediate domestic demand from both individuals and wholesalers led David Rio to offer its chai in the US market. David Rio’s success with Elephant Vanilla Chai® inspired Scott and Rio to create a new chai with stronger spice notes and developed its second blend, Tiger Spice Chai®, which quickly became the company’s signature chai. Since then, David Rio has continued to create innovative flavors under its "Endangered Species Line" of premium chai products, to demonstrate its commitment to animal welfare. Each product is named after endangered, at-risk, or vulnerable animals.
With this deep commitment to animal welfare, David Rio donates annually to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)’s elephant and tiger programs. These donations contribute to IFAW's global initiatives, such as protecting endangered tigers and elephants around the world. David Rio has also supported the San Francisco Bay Area’s Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA since 2002, as well as partnered with Cat Tales Zoological Park in Mead, Washington since 1999, where the company adopted a Bengal Tiger, Atlas.
Today, David Rio's premium chai and tea products are available in cafés, restaurants, and specialty retail stores in over 50 countries around the globe. With its strong domestic and global presence, the next step in the Company’s vision was to create a retail café. In Spring 2015, David Rio opened the doors to Chai Bar by David Rio, a chai-centric café in San Francisco’s Mid-Market, so that locals and consumers from around the world could enjoy signature David Rio Chai products, as well as have the opportunity and excitement to share in David Rio’s newest offerings and products under
Click on a name below to learn more about our team!
Ai Okubo | Chief Executive OfficerAi was born in Japan, and spent her childhood between two worlds, in Tokyo, Japan and Portland, Oregon. Through this bi-cultural experience, Ai gained the appreciation of traditional food and beverage culture from Asia (including tea), and how the inspiration can transform when introduced into a western culture. After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in international business, Ai moved to the bay area, and joined David Rio in 2002 as the Customer Service and Operations Coordinator. Ai soon found passion in offering the best chai in the market to customers, and she became National Sales Manager in 2004. In 2005, Ai transitioned to Soma Beverage Company, a sister company of David Rio, as the International Sales & Operations Manager, where she gained expertise in production and quality assurance, as well as global sales and marketing initiatives. Ai returned to her roots at David Rio in 2008, and was later appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2015, overseeing the operations of the Company and its global markets in over 55 countries around the world. What Ai enjoys the most about David Rio is working with the people who believe in the brand and equally passionate about the animal welfare that has an impact to the environment today, as well as the future for the next generations to come. Today, Ai is a member of the Professional Business Woman of California (PBWC) and lives with her husband, Eric, and daughter, Emily (who came to work every day until she turned 1), in San Francisco. Ai enjoys growing organic vegetables and fruits in her garden, and playing bocce ball with family & friends in the backyard. Favorite Chai: Orca Spice Chai with almond milk, shot of espresso and boba prepared hot at David Rio Chai Bar.
Mboone Umbima | EVP, Brand StrategyMboone Umbima enthusiastically heads the Brand Marketing Department at David Rio San Francisco and is also responsible for the David Rio’s vast Corporate Social Responsibility efforts. She has given her life’s blood for over 12 years, working with large corporations such as Compass Group, Bank of America, and Wachovia, as well as renowned nonprofit organizations such as Save the Children, where she helped to establish operations in Columbia, South Carolina. Mboone relocated to the fresh and airy San Francisco Bay Area in 2017 after a short stint in her native Kenya, where she headed the communications for Kenya’s largest foundation, The Equity Group Foundation. While with the Foundation, she found her heartbeat again as she worked on socioeconomic transformational programs aimed at servicing the poor through education and financial inclusion. Prior to that, she worked with Compass Group building communications programs and strategies for several clients including Bank of America, BMW, Sprint and many more. During her time in Compass Group, she was so fancy that she chaired the Diversity and Inclusion Action Council where she helped establish a mentorship program aimed at creating mid management opportunities for minority employees with leadership aspirations. Mboone is so hospitable and inclusive that she received the Thompson Hospitality Leadership Award in 2014 for her work on Diversity and Inclusion. Mboone has served on several boards including The Women’s Intercultural Exchange, Planned Parenthood of the Carolinas, Emkay East Africa, Mbaya & Associates(CPA), but she can’t stop herself there, so she also volunteered with the SF-based Tiba Foundation, the National Kidney Foundation, The World YWCA, the YWCA of the Carolina’s, United Nations, the Quaker Voluntary Service and many more. And what did you do today? Mboone is passionate about the impact of effective leadership. She cares deeply about Africa’s Wildlife and man-oh-man does she love chai. She is also a mother of two 2 year old boys – and no they are not twins: Trevor is her human son and Ambo is an Elephant who was rescued from the Amboseli National Park in Kenya. Trevor lives with his parents in Castro Valley and Ambo lives in Nairobi, Kenya, at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. She holds a Master of Science in Organizational Development and Communication and Bachelor of Science in Communications and Marketing. Favorite Chai: Power Chai
David Ababseh | Director of Bay Area OperationsGrowing up in a Jordanian household instilled in me strong family values, a strong work ethic, and the belief that there are no limits to what one can achieve. My father ran a small deli/corner store, where I honed my interpersonal skills, work ethic, and the importance of effective time management. I strive to apply these values daily, especially in my role managing people and leveraging their strengths. My journey with David Rio began during a transitional phase in my life when I sought part-time employment. I initially joined as a delivery person to contribute to the growth of Bay Area sales. Over time, my commitment and dedication led to a transition to full-time employment. Subsequently, I earned a promotion to Warehouse Supervisor, where I established a highly efficient warehouse and streamlined order fulfillment operations in San Francisco. My journey continued as I was entrusted with the role of General Manager of the David Rio Chai Bar. Within a brief span of two years, I steered the brick-and-mortar location to profitability. During this period, we successfully integrated the Chai Cart into our operations, merging the brands seamlessly. Additionally, we expanded our catering and events services, evolving them into a new division within our retail operations. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we opened our second location in 2020, just three weeks before the onset of the crisis. In 2021, we made the strategic decision to close that location, and from that experience, we transitioned to our third location within corporate Foodservice. Here, we offer the unique David Rio Chai Bar experience as well as daily catering experiences. Presently, I oversee operations at two Chai Bar locations, manage events, handle Bay Area sales and delivery operations, and actively contribute to business development initiatives in the Corporate Foodservice (CF) sector. My personal passions include family, food, and the pursuit of creative solutions. I believe in bringing these elements into every facet of my professional life, fostering a culture of growth and innovation. Favorite Chai: Iced Masala Pro and Dirty Tortoise Green Tea™ Chai
Kiyoe Nakazawa | VP of Business ExcellenceKiyoe was born in the small village of Nagano, Japan, home to the world famous Snow Monkeys. Because her parents owned two Japanese restaurants, she was always interested in cooking and food culture, and enjoyed talking with customers. She was curious and creative and studied fashion and textile in college which came in very useful when she first started at David Rio. At the time, the fledgling company made everything in-house and Kiyoe put together banners and POS materials. Kiyoe always wanted to experience new cultures and life styles, so she began to study English at UC Extension in San Francisco where she met Rio, the co-founder of David Rio. She returned to Japan after living 1 -1/2 years in San Francisco to attend Culinary School to seriously study different cuisines and cooking. She received a chef's license in 1998 and volunteered as a chef at the Olympic Village during the 1998 Nagano Olympics. She enjoyed different environments and being able to speak English was very helpful. Kiyoe returned to San Francisco over 15 years ago and began working with Rio and Scott because she was enthusiastic about the passion for their business and products. Kiyoe has always enjoyed developing new products as well as improving existing products. Her standards are very high and she has continued to make operations more efficient by coordinating and meeting the deadlines for marketing and sales. David Rio has always promoted working mothers and their baby sitting needs. Kiyoe was able to bring her newborn son, Hiroki, to work after she returned from maternity leave. Hiroki "worked" and played at David Rio until he was one year old. He still enjoys visiting the office and Chai Bar, sampling the flavors and raw materials around his mother's desk. And he is very proud of the work his mother does for David Rio. Favorite Chai: Cub Chai Super Concentrate with 2% milk. She also liked Flamingo Vanilla Decaf Chai while she was pregnant.
JOIN OUR TEAM
We are a growing company with a lean team of passionate individuals delivering the best in the beverage industry. Our team is made up of experienced professionals with diverse backgrounds across a wide range of functions. We bring our authentic selves to work every day and value each other’s contributions. We are a family-friendly company and pride ourselves on creating a fun and collaborative environment where we solve problems together. Our offices are based in San Francisco, In Mid-Market - half a block away from the David Rio Chai Bar.
David Rio has a strong entrepreneurial culture in which new ideas, innovation, and initiative are all highly valued. Our team is constantly learning, both individually and as an organization, and values unique perspectives, insights, and opinions. We share a commitment to David Rio as an organization and under our Kaizen philosophy, we seek opportunities to make David Rio a great place to work. We are dedicated to customers and delivering high-quality products with minimal environmental impact. We value and encourage a positive work-life balance and celebrate each other’s contributions to the workplace.
THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
We are always searching for people who have a passion for their work and the desire to make an impact—in their careers, in the community, and in the world. We are looking for smart, kind and goal-oriented people to join our team!