Caleño…The story for far!
March 13, 2019
So, I guess my whole journey essentially began two years ago, back in January 2017. It was a culmination of things, but mainly, I was looking to cut back on my drinking after Christmas. There was one night in Bristol, I remember going out to a Latin Funk music night with some friends, and I’d offered to drive (as I wasn’t drinking). My friends ordered the usual gin and tonics, craft beers, whilst I was left drinking a diet coke and then water… Not quite as exciting, and was quite frustrating. Coming from a background in the alcohol industry, it got me thinking. There is literally so much choice in the world of spirits and alcohol, but if you’re suddenly not then drinking, what the hell do you drink? I knew I couldn’t drink soft drinks all night, and water felt incredibly boring.
A few months later I took a trip back to Colombia. I spent a lot of time with family (my mum’s side is from there) and also travelled around the country, visiting Cali, Medellin, Bogota the coffee region and the coastal towns of Cartagena and Santa Marta. Whilst I was there I experienced the warm, happy upbeat/sunny nature of the Colombian people, who are relentlessly optimistic, open-minded and are always finding an excuse to celebrate/party!! It was there that it kind of dawned on me what the non-alcoholic space was lacking. When you don’t drink, people accuse you of being boring, and that’s just not the case, it’s the drinks that are dull. It needed a massive injection of fun and excitement, and that’s when I decided that was what my drink was going to do. I guess from there my vision for the drink was pretty clear.
I bought a load of botanicals online and started experimenting and playing around with different ingredients, seeing what kind of flavours I could extract. I was determined to create something that tasted more like the adult-type drinks I was used to drinking, had complexity of flavour, interesting ingredients, and also reminded me of my favourite place in the world… Colombia (hence the Inca berry!).
Since the summer of 2017, I’ve seen the alcohol-free space go from something quite niche, to something that’s really gaining some momentum. I think it’s been a combination of 2 or 3 things. The first is that people are now much more conscious about what they consume, that includes what they drink. People are becoming much more aware of the negative effects of alcohol, in particular, the longer-term health issues. That means they are now making the positive choice to drink less. This trend has been well documented in the media and press, which has therefore shone a spotlight on the ‘mindful’ category as a whole. Consumers are now much savvier when it comes to understanding how the product is made and what it contains. The alcohol-free category caters well to this, including Caleño, which is sugar-free, gluten-free/vegan and made using natural botanicals, with a focus on our hero ingredient and garnish, the Inca Berry, which gives it some lovely tropical notes!
I also think the younger generation (18 – 35’s- remove) are just a bit fed up with the effects of alcohol. If you drink to excess, you’re left with a hangover, you can’t make the most of your day. I think we are seeing a real cultural shift in drinking less, which is then translating into an increase in NPD and attention on the category. I honestly think this is really positive step forward, and if it means that we all drink a little less alcohol, and have a slightly healthier lifestyle, that’s no bad thing. Being at the Mindful Drinking Festival just the other weekend, really just showed how much demand there is for drinks in this category. The enthusiasm and excitement I saw for our drink was incredible, and made me so happy to see.
What do I see for the industry? I think this space is going to continue growing and already you are seeing supermarkets and restaurants/bar really make a conscious effort to improve their offering and cater to the growing number of people looking for better alternatives to fizzy soft drinks. In terms of the future for Caleño. I’d love to see it in some super fun and dynamic places, whether that’s buzzing Latin restaurants/bars or even as a refreshment after an energetic dance workout. As we’re a non-alcoholic product, there are no rules/restrictions, so we can be in those kinds of place. I’d hope that the brand has really started to show people that you can drink socially with friends, without the need for a drop of the hard stuf!!