homepage logo

Bones Coffee ready to brew the world

Tasty products, innovative marketing, lead to nationwide distribution

By CJ HADDAD - | May 14, 2024

Travis Rule, CEO; Tyler Nelke, creative director, along with co-owners Eric Rule, Susie Nelke and Emily Nelke are the driving force behind Bones Coffee, a Cape-based brand that is enticing coffee-drinkers worldwide. Photo provided

A Cape Coral based family-owned business is supplying great tasting and high quality coffee all over the world, while bringing some of the most popular properties to life in java form.

Bones Coffee recently announced the launch of its newest inspiration that hails from a galaxy far away. Appropriately released on May 4, Bones premiered its three newest flavors as an ode to the timeless franchise, Star Wars.

Coffee lovers can embrace their inner Sith by sipping “Dark Side Chocolate Truffle,” take a trip to Tatooine via their “Twin Sun Tiramisu,” or let out their best Chewbacca roar after a cup of “Wookie Cookie.”

A self-admitted lover of the Lucasfilm franchise, co-owner and creative director of Bones Coffee, Tyler Nelke, said being able to team up with Disney on this project was nearly as exciting as making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs aboard the Millennium Falcon.

“This has been a bit of a passion project for us,” Nelke said, adding that it was Disney who started the partnership with the brand years back for a “Nightmare Before Christmas” brew. “Being in a relationship with Disney, that was kind of always our goal. Our mouth was watering at the prospect of getting Star Wars eventually.

Headquartered in Cape Coral, Bones coffee prides itself on premier quality — and fun. On May 4, Bones premiered its three newest flavors as an ode to the timeless franchise, Star Wars, via a partnership with Disney. Photo provided

“As time went on we did our best to sell the licensed product for Disney, and we became one of the top licensees for them in the United States, which is pretty cool.”

Feeling the need to prove themselves to Disney, Nelke and the Bones crew, made up of brother and co-owner/CEO Travis Rule, along with family members and co-owners Susie Nelke, Emily Nelke, and Eric Rule, they performed exceptionally well with the license which has led to more opportunities such as the line just released. Bones has also taken on well-known titles such as “Indiana Jones,” “Spiderman,” and Marvel’s “Loki.”

“We really wanted to create an experience that the fans are going to love,” Tyler said. “There are multiple people in our office that are Star Wars fans, so we really wanted to do the property justice and give the fans something that we felt they would appreciate.”

Dark Side Chocolate Truffle combines the deep richness of milk chocolate ganache and dark roasted coffee. Twin Sun Tiramisu combines notes of mascarpone, cocoa, and bold coffee. And Wookiee Cookie is a chocolate chip flavored coffee.

The collection includes three all new flavors, thematic mugs, and a Star Wars Collector’s Box.

Headquartered in Cape Coral, Bones coffee prides itself on premier quality — and fun. On May 4, Bones premiered its three newest flavors as an ode to the timeless franchise, Star Wars, via a partnership with Disney. Photo provided

Being able to bring these titles, characters and properties to live through coffee is something Bones takes to heart.

“It’s felt like an honor and a privilege, honestly,” Tyler said. “These are mostly properties that I grew up with… and I think as a whole for the business, if you had asked me if I thought I’d be sitting in this position alongside Travis and the company doing these sorts of things — working with Disney and having the opportunities that we have, I never would have guessed.”

It was, in fact, Disney that reached out to Bones wanting to team up, which caused the family-owned business to do a double take, and naturally so. After a conversation and some planning, the slipper seemed to fit.

“Given the aesthetic of our brand, and the tone and voice we have here as a company, I think both parties agreed that it was a match made in heaven,” Tyler said. “We decided to go ahead with it, and it was a huge success.”

Travis said the partnership with Disney has opened doors for Bones, especially in regard to getting the product into retail stores across the country. Most recently with the Star Wars launch, Bones is now in thousands of Safeway and Albertsons stores on the west coast.

Headquartered in Cape Coral, Bones coffee prides itself on premier quality — and fun. On May 4, Bones premiered its three newest flavors as an ode to the timeless franchise, Star Wars, via a partnership with Disney. Photo provided

If you’ve ever seen the packaging of Bones Coffee, it’s one that stands out, which is a major player on grocery store shelves filled with competition. Beyond its eye-catching packaging, quality is at the forefront for Bones. Much of the coffee is sourced from Brazil, as well as Ethiopia, Columbia, and Guatemala.

“Tons of people make coffee, not a lot of people care a lot about the blank canvas so to speak,” Tyler said. “I’m very proud of the fact that our quality — we start with an awesome canvas in terms of the coffee that we use for the flavor and single origins. We really believe that you have to start with a good product to end up with something that tastes good to the consumer. We don’t buy cheap coffee. We don’t buy coffee that’s past-crop. We make sure that it’s fresh. We make sure that it’s high-grade. And we want to put out first and foremost that best tasting product out that we can for the customer. We don’t really compromise on our costs to do that.”

Bones Coffee products are also keto-friendly with no sugar or artificial sweeteners. The team samples a variety of flavors to ensure the brew fits the creative vision.

Bones Coffee was founded in September of 2016, with the family originating from the northwest U.S. Eventually, the family relocated to Cape Coral where they now have the company’s headquarters.

“We really wanted to bring something fun to the coffee industry,” Travis said. “We spent a lot of time working on the branding, and really pairing the artwork with fun flavors and wanted to do something unique to stand out from other companies. Over the years we really have developed a cult following with how creative our products are.”

When Bones first launched, distribution was mostly direct to consumers. The company has now branched out and can be found both online, in shelves across the region and country, and even at their storefront on Mid Cape Terrace. From packing orders out of a spare bedroom, to a 4,000-square-foot space, to now a 50,000-square-foot space, it’s been “surreal” for the family to see the brand take off.

“We love it here,” Travis said. “And we really wanted to build the brand as a family and have something sustainable for years to come.”

Tyler added that the Cape Coral community has also played a role in their success.

“We love the community here, we love the area, and wanted to create something ultimately that would bring jobs to the area, and where we could give back to the community that’s been so great to us for the over 15 years we all lived here.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bones brought on various local bartenders or servers that found themselves out of a job. The company has also sponsored various music venues and events around the Cape, and has given back to entities such as the Lewis P. Tabarrini Children’s Music Outreach Foundation.

All flavors in Bones Coffee’s Star Wars-inspired collection will be available in 12 oz. bags of Whole Beans and Ground Coffee ($17.99) and Bones Cups (single-serve coffee pods) ($17.99).

The Star Wars Collector’s Box ($59.99) includes all three flavors in 12 oz. bags, available in all Ground or all Whole Bean. Star Wars-inspired Handthrown Mugs for each flavor are sold separately ($42).

Bones ships to consumers worldwide and has expanded into retail. Southwest Florida residents can find Bones at Publix and Farmer Joe’s in Cape Coral.

“As we continue to grow, our focus has really been making our product accessible all over the country,” Tyler said. “We have some large opportunities with some of the largest retailers, so we’re really excited about that and are preparing to handle the growth we’re expecting.”

For more information, visit www.bonescoffee.com or follow @bonescoffeecompany on Instagram and Facebook, and @bonescoffeeco on Pinterest and X.

Bones Coffee is at 79 Mid Cape Terrace.