Simply Maple Water Straight From the Tree

Alumni5 MIN READ

Kate Weiler ’04 marks a decade of Drink Simple, the beverage company she cofounded

Jeff Rose and Kate Weiler '04, who cofounded Drink Simple a decade ago. (Photo by Georgie Morely)
By Abigail Curtis Photography by Georgie Morely and Drink Simple
May 2, 2024

In the beverage industry, about 90 percent of companies go out of business within the first three years. It’s an unspoken rule that just making a good product is not enough. 

But Kate Weiler ’04, who cofounded organic maple water company Drink Simple a decade ago, has beaten the odds despite challenges that include a global pandemic that turned the retail industry upside down. 

Maple water is what it sounds like—sap tapped directly from maple trees. Weiler, a psychology major, first sampled it in Québec in 2013 while competing in an Ironman triathlon there with her training partner, Jeff Rose. They loved it, started the business together, and married several years after that. 

Ten years into her entrepreneurship journey, Weiler remains ebullient about maple water and spoke about why that is the case. This interview has been edited. 

What first surprised you about maple water? 

We really had no idea that the water that comes directly from maple trees is this ultra-hydrating, delicious, sustainable beverage. And we were just really surprised, given how much we love the product and how much better it made us feel, that nobody was bottling this. And yet there was coconut water that was being shipped from across the world that people were going crazy about as a natural hydration. We had a resource that was literally in our backyards that people were just utilizing to boil down to syrup. We thought, ‘Why isn’t anyone bottling this? This is amazing.’

Tap lines in maple trees for Drink Simple. (Photo by Drink Simple)

You also found the sustainability piece to be exciting. 

People love this idea that maple water as a business is preserving North American forests and providing an economic incentive for farmers to keep the trees standing rather than chop them down for real estate. And then through the process of carbon sequestration, it is mitigating climate change. With the preservation of the forest, you’re preserving thousands of wildlife species of plants and animals because if the forests are chopped down, all those habitats go away. 

(Photo by Drink Simple)

And you proved the naysayers, the people who thought this kind of business couldn’t be done, wrong. 

A lot of people said it couldn’t be done. I think this is where entrepreneurship really comes into play. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to be told ‘no’ a lot, and you need to figure out a way to either listen to people and stop, or to keep going. 

Nowadays, Drink Simple’s waters are available for sale in Whole Foods Markets and other stores throughout New England, as well as online via The company now sells hundreds of thousands of gallons of maple water every year. What sets your product apart from the others, the ones that maybe don’t make it? 

I do think our product is good. I think it also truly has benefits. People really feel the benefits. There’s been interesting word of mouth, when sometimes we’ll hear doctors recommending it, or nutritionists, or chiropractors. I’ve gotten messages from mothers who are saying their child has a rare disease, and this is the only product that makes them feel better. Or people saying they suffer from X, Y, or Z disease, and they cannot live without our product. They don’t feel good if they’re not drinking it. I would think very few other beverage brands are truly getting emails like that. I’m sure that some beverage brands bring joy to people’s lives, but when I read those emails, it reminds me why we’re doing what we’re doing. That this truly has such a positive impact on people’s lives. 

(Photo by Drink Simple)

How did the pandemic, with all of its supply chain and retail challenges, affect Drink Simple? 

Over a decade, we’ve definitely seen different challenges and had to pivot and adapt and modify based on those. We were considered essential because we’re a food company, so we didn’t ever have to shut down. But with the supply chain, there were things you just wouldn’t think would happen. We used to pay $800 for a run of raspberry juice [Drink Simple makes raspberry lemon sparkling maple water], and then the price went up to $27,000. We’re not paying $27,000 for raspberry juice. That is crazy. It was also during this time we changed from plastic bottles to more eco-friendly cartons, and there were definitely some challenges there. We were changing suppliers and not being able to actually visit them. Silver lining-wise, I think we were able to learn a lot. And when you’re faced with those challenges, you grow as a person and grow as a business and understand how to adapt and be nimble. I’m thrilled to say that we’re here today thriving with a product line that’s working really well for us and looking to just continue to innovate in the future. 

‘I think that’s the most important thing as an entrepreneur. You need to learn to have a curious mind, and I learned that at Colby.’

Kate Weiler ’04

How has your Colby experience helped you on your entrepreneurship journey? 

I’m a huge, diehard Mule and fan, and I get super excited whenever I meet anyone from Colby. I cannot speak enough about the Colby network. I think that the wonderful thing about Colby is that you learn to learn. You learn to be curious. I feel like people in this day and age don’t have curious minds anymore, which always blows me away. I think that’s the most important thing as an entrepreneur. You need to learn to have a curious mind, and I learned that at Colby.