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Photo by Chris Kilham

“Tyler Gage and his team at Runa are doing it the right way. Organic, ethical trade, sustainable practices, and a prevailing sense of fun, make Runa Amazon Guayusa a company to watch.” - Chris Kilham

Runa Amazon Guayusa

For thousands of years communities throughout the Amazon have cultivated the guayusa (why-you-sa) leaf for a natural, delicious source of energy and nutrition. Treasured for its unique balance of caffeine, antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids guayusa continues to be the center of morning rituals throughout the Amazon. Every harvest, local farmers hand-pick guayusa leaves from the rich soil under the canopy of the Amazon rainforest. Sip slowly and enjoy as you awaken your mind and fortify your body with Runa.


Every harvest, local farmers hand-pick guayusa leaves from the rich soil under the canopy of the rainforest. In an ancient tradition, Amazonian families gather at dawn to drink guayusa from gourds around a communal fire. They come together during these early morning hours to share dreams, music and myths. Indigenous farmers say this tradition is essential to what makes them “Runa” - fully living human beings.


Runa began when three students (Tyler, Dan and Charlie) teamed up with communities of indigenous farmers to share the guayusa (why-you-suh) ritual with the world. Collectively, we are creating a business that respects cultural traditions, supports small farmers, and helps the Amazon rainforest thrive. Runa inspires people to live a stimulating life and use their energy and imagination to create a better world.

The word “Runa” means "person” or “fully living human being” in the Kichwa language. We chose this name to represent our company's commitment to realizing a dream of living responsibly, collaboratively, and intelligently as a global community.

While “Runa” is a term of immense pride, identity, and spiritual vitality for the Kichwa people themselves, in modern Ecuadorian society, “Runa” is a word that has become a disrespectful and racist slur that signifies “stupid and worthless.” Our goal is to revalorize indigenous cultural identity, traditions, and plant knowledge on an international scale, by carrying Runa as the brand name for all our products and as a symbol of our commitment to living fully as humans.


UNESCO and Conservation International both recognize the Ecuadorian Amazon as one of the top 10 most biodiverse places on the planet. Meanwhile, over 3% of the Ecuadorian Amazon is deforested each year, and the oil mining industry has left a long legacy of exploitation and destruction in the region. The latest data from the Global Climate Program indicates that deforestation accounts for 25% of global emissions of heat-trapping gases contributing to climate change, and slash and burn agriculture is the leading cause of tropical deforestation. But at the same time, cross-country comparisons show that GDP growth in agriculture is at least twice as effective at mitigating the effects of poverty as any other economic generating activity. Few organizations have been able to balance the need to create productive, sustainable livelihoods for local people and simultaneously conserve the environment. Therefore, innovative strategies are needed that jointly support income generation for smallholder producers while maintaining the ecological integrity of the Amazon rainforest.