September of last year, CEIBA made a visit to the Thame Food Festival. This wasn’t a run of the mill event for us, not by a long stretch. Thame was our first unveiling of what we had been conjuring up to the public. It was the acid test.
What many don’t know is that we had hoped to have our products ready for market by the time Thame came around. However, drinks manufacturing at scale is a whole different ball game to brewing up something in the kitchen and we were still on the path to mastering it – you brew something up in the kitchen, it tastes good, happy days. You brew something up at scale, you have to make sure the pH is right, filtration is on point, specific gravity is correct and, of course… that it tastes good.
So what happened at Thame? I can assure you that nerves ran deeply throughout Team CEIBA. Picture an artist spending time on a painting before unveiling his work to critics who may fall in love with the piece or hate it. When producing a drink like ours, it’s very different from blending a nice juice together. We are effectively constructing the base cinnamon infusion, which has to be right, and then balancing flavours on top whilst having no idea how the public would receive the drink as it hasn’t been done before.
We’ve always wanted the drink to be a health drink and to keep the sugar low. The problem is, healthy drinks are notoriously unappealing (think spinach smoothie) and sacrificing sugar perhaps limits how much flavour you can get out of any given fruit as a fruit is composed of largely sugars. But we found a way and we wanted to see what the public thought of it.
Although we were not market ready in time for Thame, we took the opportunity to test our recipes on the unsuspecting palates of the public. A good 2000 people tried the drink and we gathered invaluable feedback on our recipes of what people liked, disliked and what they thought we could do to improve them.
Thankfully the vast majority of people approved of the drink. This was the confidence booster we needed and armed with pointers on how to move forward, we returned to the labs, improved our recipes and made haste to get a full-scale production run going.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but we are now very nearly there. 😉