Katie Clark

Beverage Architect

Our Day in the Lab blog series takes a closer look at our team members to see what it takes to change what the world is drinking!

What does a typical day look like for you?

No day is the same, which is part of why I really like my job but also what makes it hard. You’re required to be flexible. Typically, we plan out our weeks on Monday so we have plans of what we’re working on. That usually involves development, making samples for clients, and addressing whatever pops up with your clients. Depending what stage they’re in, anything can pop up related to production, feedback from samples, anything. It involves a lot of planning and flexibility.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I really love when a client goes into production and they send in their product. It’s cool to work on the products and I love the development part but you never have a visual of the end product. When we can finally put a face to the name and that product comes in it’s just like “Oh, so that’s what I’ve been working on this whole time!”. That’s the first time we get to see the marketing and labeling aspects.

How did you get started here?

I graduated from UK with a degree in food science. During my time at school I interned at White Castle Distributing, the company that makes the frozen food burgers you can buy at Kroger and Walmart. It was a quality control job but I was really interested in the research and development side of the food industry. I was familiar with Flavorman and what they did and it just so happened that a Lab Technician position opened up online. I’ll have been here three years in January.

What’s your favorite type of drink/flavors to work with?

I like working with all sorts of flavors. What’s hot right now are Ready To Drink cocktails and they’re fun to make but I like that we get all sorts of products to work on. Some are harder than others. It depends on what you have experience in, but I’m constantly learning and that’s just another part of the development process.

Has this job changed you as a consumer?

Definitely. I’m more picky since I get to drink all these sodas and other drinks we make here. I’m a water drinker otherwise, just because you get your fair share of fun drinks. It makes me look at the beverage aisle differently and I get excited when new things come up.

How many clients do you work with at a time?

So clients are all in different stages but at any given time we probably have fifteen active clients per project leader. That number can go up or down depending on the week but I could probably address several clients in a day through emails, phone calls, feedback, and whatever work I’m doing in the lab that day.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Sometimes it’s difficult to try and translate what a client tells you they’re tasting into a lab change. If they’re saying they want this certain thing to be different it doesn’t necessarily translate as easily over to development. Tasting is subjective so you can never experience the exact same taste they are, but we’re professionals so we usually have a pretty good idea of what they mean. There’s also a lot of pressure when it comes to working with entrepreneurs because they’re depending on my work to make a living so I take that responsibility seriously.

Written on August 28, 2018.