Author Archive

Written on October 26, 2023.

As beverage experts, we’re dedicated to crafting a complete sensory experience in our development process. But if we had to pick one sense to boast about, it would undoubtedly be taste. Everyone encounters flavor in various forms, whether it’s that refreshing soda straight from the fridge or an aged spirit you save for those special moments. But how often in life do we intentionally engage in a structured tasting to assess a beverage’s essence? For our clients, it’s a regular occurrence, as they work with our experts for months to perfect their formula and capture its essence. Yet, for others, it might happen during a wine-tasting escapade, a mixologist’s quest for the next cocktail sensation, or simply someone experimenting in their own kitchen.

While we don’t anticipate you becoming a super taster overnight, adhering to best practices during a tasting session is pivotal to either creating or identifying that one-of-a-kind refreshment. It’s a nuanced endeavor, far beyond a mere thumbs-up or thumbs-down judgment of a drink. Rest assured, the art of tasting is our bread and butter, and part of our mission to Change What the World is Drinking is to share our insights with you!

Tasting – Why Do We Do It?

Believe it or not, it’s not enough for a drink to merely taste good; ideally you want it to have its own unique character. This is crucial in our process, as our clients ask us to craft nearly an entire personality for their product. For example, is this drink more for daytime sipping or the life of the nighttime party? Does it cozy up to a specific season, or does it play nice year-round?

Katie Clark, Director of Research and Development, thinks that the sip of a drink is much like a story, saying, “The flavor that starts in your mouth isn’t the same one that leaves it”. She continues, “I think of a cocktail that greets with aromatic citrus and herbals, introducing its mild sweetness, then is followed by the warmth of the base spirit. When a drink successfully delivers on all these fronts and concludes with an intriguing finish, I find myself ordering a second round every time,”.

It’s normal to never have thought so deeply about a cocktail from your local bar or a refreshment to wash down your meal. But, during formal tasting sessions, these attributes act as your roadmap that will ultimately lead to your final analyses and critiques.

Preparing Your Tasting Session

Understanding the significance of mindful tasting is just the beginning. If you’re curating your own tasting expedition, here’s some groundwork to cover and thoughts to sip on:

  • Stay Healthy: Avoid tasting while you’re under the weather. When sinuses tend to clog up, it impairs our ability to taste and smell. So, while we always wish you the best of health, you’ll achieve the finest results when you’re feeling your best.
  • Odor-Free Environment: It’s not ideal to sample your lemon-flavored sparkling water in a room where someone is busy cooking up burgers. Your nose and taste buds are like two peas in a pod, so strive to maintain a neutral tasting space.
  • Morning Alertness: Your senses are at their peak in the morning. We recommend conducting your full-fledged taste tests within the hours of breakfast and lunch.
  • Mind Breakfast Choices: During breakfast, it’s a good idea to steer clear of strong flavors like coffee, garlic, and spicy foods. These flavors tend to linger, even after a round of mouthwash, and can greatly alter your palate.
  • Don’t go at it alone: Not only is it more fun to have group tasting sessions, but it’ll provide more insight – we recommend a group of no more than 3-4 tasters.

These guidelines might seem nit-picky, but they are tried-and-true techniques employed by beverage experts and professional tasters that will end up yielding incredible results!

Tasting Evaluation

Now that you’ve grasped what’s involved in the mindful tasting journey, prepared your tasting rounds, and cleansed your palate, it’s time to get to the part you’ve been parched for! Although the skill of picking up subtle flavor notes in any beverage or dish is a skill that takes years to refine, we’re here to provide you with the building blocks of a seasoned expert’s strategy!

We suggest taking a methodical, but simple, approach, focusing on your senses:

  • Seeing: It goes without saying to make sure to use a clear cup with your pours for this evaluation to be effective. Observe the color hues and opacity. Is it clear, cloudy, transparent, or completely opaque?
  • Smelling: Dive into the aroma. How potent or subtle is the scent? Does it carry a sweet or savory fragrance? The aroma can often provide valuable insights into the drink’s character.
  • Tasting: This is where the canvas opens. Explore a range of flavors, including sweetness, tartness, saltiness, bitterness, and earthiness. Your taste buds are your guides here, so let them lead you through the intricate world of flavors. Depending on your drink, your palate should pick up on intensity of alcohol content or amount of carbonation. To top it off, evaluate that aftertaste, because sometimes it can make or break your drink.
  • Feeling: Does it have a watery texture, or is it thick and viscous? Does it leave a lingering coating in your mouth? Is it smooth or oily, or does it present any challenges when swallowing?

Our very own Key Projects Manager, Cory Pierce, suggests, “One should taste their samples in three distinct ways: chilled, over ice, and at room temperature”, and for reference, “Ice can dilute the flavors, rendering the drink more subdued, while a chilled beverage tends to present a somewhat less pronounced sweetness,”. This thoughtful approach allows aspiring drink developers to fine-tune their creations, ensuring they shine under various serving conditions, ultimately delivering a delightful experience to customers.

Also, palate cleansers are essential! Taking a sip of room temperature water in between sips ensures your senses remain neutral as you transition between drinks. The aim is to prevent any confusion between one sample and another, especially if variations are subtle. Speaking of convoluting flavors, refrain from sharing your opinion in group settings until after the session concludes. While a fellow taster may perceive nutmeg when you detect cinnamon, sharing this might influence your real-time perception.

Finally, depending on your end goal for the tasting, it might be necessary for you to record your thoughts. We always advise our clients to jot down as many notes as possible during their sampling, even if observations don’t make perfect sense. Your tastebuds are unique to you, much like a fingerprint, so take your time and trust your instinct. There are no wrong answers! This experience can be relaxing and enjoyable, just as much as it is informational and productive.

Cheers – You’ve Got This!

In sensory practices, there’s no velvet rope that’s exclusive to experts in the beverage or culinary industry. It’s open to all, regardless of your background. As it is Flavorman’s mission to Change What the World Is Drinking, we are committed to nurturing the palates of both newcomers and novices alike. If you’re just starting on this flavorful path, we hope our words have ignited your curiosity and, perhaps, kindled a desire to explore your tasting abilities. For our seasoned pros, our aspiration is to have breathed new life into your creative spirit, offering a fresh lens through which to view future tastings.

Whether you’re taking your first sip or thousandth, remember to trust the process and savor every moment (and flavor), because that’s when the real magic unfolds!

Have an idea for a new beverage? Flavorman can help you bring it to life! Call us at (502)273-5214 or contact our team through this webform.

Written on April 17, 2023.

Expertise, experience, and excellence mixed with character, kindness, and a commitment to quality makes for one hell of a company culture cocktail. While always focused on our mission to change what the world is drinking, we believe establishing a professional environment that values our people as much as our profits and prioritizes true work-life balance ultimately leads to the type of serious and significant engagement that results in lasting, sustainable success. Operating with positive intent, communicating with respect and honesty, demanding quality throughout the process, embracing change as we celebrate unprecedented growth, and remaining ethical, principled, and accountable, this is The Flavorman Way.

Far too often professional environments and corporate cultures center around fear and politics, selfishness and greed. Hey, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, right? Survival of the fittest where the only thing that matters is the bottom line. Profits over people, numbers over names, policies over common sense, legal liability over ethical responsibility, exorbitant executive bonuses over reasonable working wages. The relentless pressure to outperform year-over-year and meet arbitrary and unreasonable goals and expectations can and will warp your mind, challenge your character, suffocate your creativity, and exhaust your spirit. Every day is a battle to keep perspective, manage your boss, and prioritize yourself. It’s no way to work and certainly no way to live. Nonetheless, it’s an undeniable reality for far too much of the American workforce. At one time or another, we’ve all gotten a taste of that dangerous toxicity, which is why when you find a supportive, encouraging, rewarding, and empowering culture like the one here at Flavorman, you can’t help but celebrate and appreciate it.

And at our core is The Flavorman Way, a roadmap of guiding principles that define and shape how we communicate, behave, and interact internally so that we can be at our best externally. The foundation of Flavorman is rooted in our expertise, character, and commitment to quality and with the company’s explosive growth over the last three years, it became clear that we needed to formally identify our core values and fundamentals if we wanted to protect the sacred culture that’s inspired the genius and ingenuity of our people and process for the past 31 years.

Including when COVID hit in 2020. While most of the world was shutting their doors and struggling to stay in business, we quickly transitioned to producing hand sanitizer for the state and actually ended up hiring people when the panic of the pandemic was at its height. And we haven’t stopped. Over the past three years, we’ve more than doubled our workforce (from 38 employees to 66) while continuing to set new revenue records seemingly every month. Add in the completion of our transformative new $8.5M, 27K-square-foot Scott Reed Building and our move later this year to an additional 13K-square-foot building that will more than triple the working space for our world-class lab and flavor teams, and it doesn’t take a beverage scientist to figure out business is booming. Make no mistake about it, the future of Flavorman is now. And as we continue to navigate our way through this period of rapid growth and significant change, we’ll make sure we don’t go astray by staying true to The Flavorman Way.

1) Assume Positive Intent

“See the best in people and watch how they fight to prove you right.” – Skip Prichard

The road to success is often filled with potholes, wrong turns, and torrential downpours. But the companies that weather the storms and make it through do it because of their people and leadership. And when both are aligned, great things can happen. Look, we all make mistakes. Even the best of us. But when companies show grace and understanding instead of judgement and disdain, they earn the kind of meaningful trust and authentic buy-in that ultimately leads to long-term success. When smart, motivated, and well-intentioned professionals are given the benefit of the doubt and a chance to right their wrongs, a fierce loyalty and deep appreciation are developed for an environment that supports us at our worst and celebrates us at our best. Sure, there will be those who take a foot when given an inch, but the rest of us will take that inch and give it back in spades because that’s what you do when you’re a good teammate on a great team. You play inspired because you’re surrounded and supported by inspired people. Positive intent > toxic politics; trust > micro-management; grace > judgement; empowerment > fear.

2) Be Accountable & Engage In Blameless Solutions

“Wisdom stems from personal accountability. We all make mistakes; own them…learn from them. Don’t throw away the lesson by blaming others.” – Steve Maraboli

All five principles of The Flavorman Way intersect and overlap in many ways, particularly the first three, as true accountability and honest, respectful communication can really only take place when the parties involved trust everyone is operating with positive intentions. When it’s about the whole instead of the parts, the team instead of the individual, then people can truly come together, move forward as one, and address issues and solve problems effectively because of a shared trust and respect. The Blame Game is a devastating and destructive force, and yet, it’s played at the highest stakes routinely in far too many professional environments – where ego, politics, and greed create a toxicity that drains the spirit and poisons company cultures.

3) Communicate With Maturity, Respect, & Honesty

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply.” – Roy T. Bennett

When we think about interpersonal communication, we think about the importance of speaking and writing with clarity, purpose, and sincerity so we give ourselves the best chance to get our point across. However, no matter how carefully crafted the message is or how authentically it’s delivered, it doesn’t matter if nobody is listening. That’s why it’s so critically important that communication travels down a two-way road, where interactions take place with open minds, empathetic hearts, and positive intentions. That’s when you establish the kind of direct and honest communication that gets things done and moves companies forward.

4) Demand Quality & Ethics

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” – Will A. Foster

Quality is at the core of everything we do here at Flavorman and Moonshine University because of the expertise, talent, passion, and commitment of our people. No detail is too small and no project is too big. Our lab teams have created more than 80,000 original beverage formulations over the last three decades. It’s an astonishing and impressive amount of work. And with the recent growth of the company and exciting developments happening, our R&D and flavor teams are as inspired as they’ve ever been to change what the world is drinking by continuing to capture the imagination of our clients so they can deliver innovative new products to an ever-evolving marketplace. In order to accomplish that mission, we’ll continue to depend on the talent and experience of our people and the power of our collaborative and thorough process, which begins and ends with quality, a defining trait of our business since day one. It’s why Jones Soda decided to work with us way back in 1994 after a number of their flavored sodas were failing in quality and needed to be reformulated. And in a matter of weeks, we not only made sure their sodas were shelf-life dependable, we turned them into their five highest-selling flavors.

5) Embrace & Celebrate Change As Necessary For Growth

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Pollard

When our founder, Dave Dafoe, started Flavorman (legally known as Pro-Liquitech) more than 30 years ago in 1992, he was the only employee. Eighteen years later, in 2010, Flavorman still had just 12 team members. Today, as we previously mentioned, we have 66, more than half of which have been hired post-COVID. And it hasn’t been just our team that’s exploded in growth, our physical footprint has expanded as well. With the purchase of the building that will serve as the new home for our R&D and flavor teams and the completion of our game-changing production building, Flavorman’s state-of-the-art Beverage Campus in downtown Louisville, KY now populates an entire city block.

Things have been moving fast, but our team has embraced the changes and inevitable challenges just as we always have throughout our history, especially when times have been toughest. Whether it was almost losing Dave in 2004 when he was hospitalized for over a month or being knocked to our knees by an historic flood in 2009, we’ve been at our best when our best has been needed. For better or worse, in sickness and health, come hell or high water, this company will continue to rise to the challenge because of our selfless leadership, quality of our people, and commitment to each other.

In an interview with Forbes in 2015, Dave talked about his deep appreciation for the people who have shed blood, sweat, and tears right alongside him all these years. With a multimillion offer already on the table, Dave was asked why he hadn’t sold the company.

“I’m not just going to sell and whisk my way off to the Caribbean and leave people here who have helped me build this business. We have very little turnover. Many of our employees started right out of college. I’m only interested in a purchaser who wants to come in and build the business.”

That level of loyalty is why Chief Business Officer Jon Wood is still here after 27 years, Inventory Specialist Scott Reed is going 19 years strong, Special Projects Manager Cory Pierce has been here for 16 years, COO Scott Weddle is on year 13, and Chief Technical Officer Kristen Wemer has been with the company for over a decade. And that’s just to name a few.

Because the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’ve certainly come a long way since Dave bravely left the comfortable confines of corporate America at Brown-Forman and started Pro-Liquitech with nothing but his perfect palate and cash advances from a handful of credit cards, coupled with an uncanny ability to develop unique and original beverages. However, at our core, we’re the same company we’ve always been. Creative, dynamic, intelligent, passionate, driven, determined, and dedicated.

And it starts at the top with a group of steady, unselfish leaders who empower our people by cultivating a culture that shows us grace when we fall short of expectations, looks for solutions without assigning blame, communicates honestly and respectfully, demands quality in everything we do, and celebrates change and growth. The kind of culture that honors an employee’s 19 years of loyalty and hard work by naming its new $8.5M building after him; the kind of culture led by a founder and CEO who didn’t speak or take a shovel at the groundbreaking for the production building because he wanted our new COO to have that moment and become the public face of our company; the kind of culture that’s never lost its way through the years because we’ve always operated with the same commitment to quality and character that we had when we first opened up shop way back in 1992, when The Dream Team was dominating the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Nirvana’s Nevermind was at the top of the charts, and Dave had a lot more black hair.

“As Flavorman enjoyed its 30th year in business and completion of our new production building, I reminded myself that I did not build Flavorman by myself. It was natural to name this building for a long-time co-worker who contributed in many ways to our growth. Companies often talk about creating meaningful company culture, and naming the Scott Reed Building is one way we continue to put words into action.” – Dave Dafoe, Founder & CEO

This is The Flavorman Way.

Have an idea for a new beverage? Flavorman can help you bring it to life! Call us at (502)273-5214 or contact our team through this webform.


Building Company Culture

The History of Flavorman

Our Company Culture

Overcoming Adversity

Written on March 29, 2023.

Through the years, bottled and canned sparkling water has evolved and gone through many different trends. From seltzers to enhanced water, the industry continues to find ways to reinvent the refreshing experience of drinking water. One of the many new trends to jump into the beverage market is hop water. What is it? When was it first made? To quench your thirst for new knowledge, let’s first dive into what makes hop water unique.

A Look Back Before Looking Forward

Hop water is essentially carbonated water that’s flavored and crafted with hop plants. The female flowers of the hop plant are, of course, the primary ingredient used to brew beer, which give hop water’s buzzed but beloved uncle its distinctive bitterness and aroma while also serving as a preservative. However, hop water is a non-alcoholic beverage that lacks the carbs and calories of beer and often contains no grains during its brewing process. And because the process doesn’t usually use grains and doesn’t require removing alcohol, hop water is known to be much easier to brew and a healthier alternative to non-alcoholic beer. Among its many endearing qualities, the multifaceted hop plant is also known for having beneficial medicinal effects that help treat issues such as insomnia, nervous tension, and anxiety.

Hop water first entered into the beverage market nearly a decade ago thanks to experienced homebrewer Paul Tecker, who unveiled his clever innovation at a beer festival in 2014 under the brand name H2OPS. Since then, the beer industry’s version of sparkling water has morphed into many different forms and spawned a number of new brands, including Lagunitas’s Hoppy Refresher, a surprisingly fruity beverage that’s made with Citra, Equinox, and Centennial hops and a bit of yeast; Snake River Brewing’s Snake River Seltzer, which is made with just three ingredients: water, hops, and ascorbic acid; and HOP WTR, created with bold hops and mood-boosting ingredients. It’s also worth noting that the industry has created hop waters infused with cannabis and CBD and also dreamed up hoppy alternatives such as Hop Tea and Hop Soda.

The Next Big Seltzer?

According to Nielsen, hop water sales have skyrocketed 142.5% over the last two years, going from $2.3M to $5.5M this past year. Now the fifth biggest craft-style beverage in the U.S., hop water sales have increased 43.9% over the past year despite craft beer sales being down 7.2% over that same time period.

In many ways, the growing popularity of hop water mirrors the trend toward lighter, health-conscious beverages. With that in mind, beverage developers are creating products with natural ingredients and fewer sugars. The non-ABV demographic has benefited from this trend and hop water products have helped fulfill that growing need.

However, if hop water is to continue its momentum and growing relevance in the marketplace, the Beer Branding Trends newsletter believes the beverage needs to move beyond being simply just an alternative to beer.

A big challenge as the category matures will be reaching beyond a traditional beer-drinking audience who is in search of a more wellness-focused, beer-ish option.– Beer Branding Trends

So fast forward a few years and hop water drinkers may not all be coming from the beer section to find their favorite hoppy alternative but instead will be non-alcoholic and wellness drinkers looking around for a change. And as hop water continues to evolve and introduce a new demographic to the world of sparkling water, the category is as healthy and exciting as ever.

Have an idea for a new beverage? Flavorman can help you bring it to life! Call us at (502)273-5214 or contact our team through this webform.


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Written on December 12, 2022.

The holiday season may be a favorite time of year for many, but at Flavorman, we are thrilled to spend this time of year predicting the anticipated 2023 Beverage Trends. Transitioning away from COVID-19’s challenging years, next year’s trends focus on the future of simplicity, functionality, environmental consciousness, and authenticity.

Color Trends: Less is More

With new beverages hitting the shelves every day, shoppers are shifting towards products with more natural components and coloring and tend to avoid artificial colors and ingredients in their products. Beverages are now mainly focusing on the flavor and function of the drink, as opposed to coloration. The lack of color also comes from a shift in popularity of cans instead of glass or plastic bottles. Aluminum cans provide the opportunity to implement clean labeling marketing to promote their natural ingredients. Especially in the distilled spirits world, color continues to be less of a concern. Spirits have primarily stayed consistent with caramel and natural coloring. In a nutshell, consumers feel that less is more when it comes to color, and whatever color there is must derive from its natural ingredients. 

“Even in spirits, very few are looking for innovative coloring. Other than caramel coloring and a handful of botanicals which are acceptable in a few different spirit categories, pea-flower was the only color people were excited about, and now we hear nothing about it.” – Colin Blake, Director of Spirits Education  

2023 Beverage Trends - Color-Less is more

Ingredient Trends: Function is Key

In addition to color trends, product ingredients are also shifting to simpler components for function and health. Last year’s consumers wanted bolder ingredients for nostalgic flavors with guilt-free indulgence, while this year, we’re seeing a shift to a more balanced, health-conscious trend. Developers wish to use ingredients that provide both benefits and satisfying flavors. Even added sugars are increasingly removed from beverages in favor of the natural sugars from juice. 

“A lot of clients are paying attention to the sugar content. They want the taste, but they also want artificial sugars or additives. Juices are becoming the answer. Juice doesn’t show up as added sugars; it provides flavors.” – Katie Clark, Director of Research and Development

Other consumers seek herbal ingredients such as ginseng root to strengthen immune systems, ginger for cognitive energy and pain relief, and pepper flavors that provide a functional mouthfeel. Functional beverages such as energy drinks, anti-hang-over, and detox beverages similarly use light but flavorful herbal ingredients, enough to where it’s palatable for their function. Functional beverages are also shifting their ingredients toward plant-based formulas. 71% of global consumers are seeking out functional and multi-tasking drinks. According to The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), the annual growth of plant-based beverages will become more prevalent between 2020 and 2027 by 11.9%. Beverage brands are picking up on the plant-based trend and its benefits. Most notably, plant-based milk, meal supplements, and fruit juices are in higher demand. Juices and energy drink companies popular with millennials and Gen-Z consumers have incorporated natural caffeine from Yerba, mate, green tea, coffee, guarana, and ginseng. Sweeter beverages have yet to leave the market, although more consumers are seeking ways to improve their daily health and consumption after years of sickness and uncertainty. 

2023 Beverage Trends - Tree of Ingredients

Flavor Trends: A Balanced Blend

The most prominent pattern experts have noticed is a significant rise in citrus flavors, sweeter spirit-flavored cocktails, and flavors used for ready-to-drink beverages. The flavor trend is shifting toward uncomplicated citruses with growing interest in orange, grapefruit, lime, and other berry blends. Other increasingly popular flavor extracts include botanicals such as butterfly pea flower, black tea, and chamomile.

“Citrus flavors are still the same; loads of grapefruit and orange flavors for the past five years. Number 1 is orange, but then there are a lot of variables like tangelo and different mandarins. Number 2 is different berry flavors; strawberry, raspberry, berry-blends, elderberry, and elder-flower. Number 3 is tea. Just generic black tea flavors.” Tom Gibson, Director Flavor Architect 

Transitioning to spirits, distillers have displayed a growing interest in flavored spirits with little to no ABV. Popular flavor blends include whisky, rum, gin, and tequila. These flavor blends create almost indistinguishable products from their alcoholic cousins and are featured in N/A-friendly beverages worldwide. At the same time, demand is growing for well-balanced and bold flavors to be used as added ingredients in ales. Brewers are using flavor additives as a cost-effective and efficient solution to adding more flavored varieties to their existing product lines. Spirit trends are continually innovative because they encourage experimenting and exploring. Especially for the new emerging generation of consumers, beer and spirits are more desirable when they are sweeter and have more flavor varieties. 

“The sober-curious space got away from trying to make mocktails to trying to make something unique and had its own footprints, its own space, and so those flavors got a little wild with combinations that included bitters, and alcohol components, and herbal components.” Scott Weddle, Chief Operating Officer  

On the one hand, beverage trends are leaning more toward light flavors, primarily wanting a balanced taste palette for all drinks, while the world of spirits leans toward the best of both worlds: spirits with sweet and fuller flavors while also exploring lighter options. 

2023 Beverage Trends - Fruit Balanced

Technological Trends: Innovation & Process

Co-packers’ technological innovation often shifts slowly, with a slight change in trends ranging from environmentally safe materials and organic certifications to what consumers can do to utilize multi-use plastic. Trends to watch out for in the new year include:

Retailers striving to obtain organic certification for their beverages and related products. The preference for an organic certification largely stems from the growing prevalence of organic grocery stores such as Whole Foods. With an ever-growing health-conscious consumer market, the clean label essentially certifies and labels products as healthy and free of artificial ingredients and highlights the importance of clean labeling and organic certification. The drive for more organic certifications also affects the ingredients that beverage developers want to invest in, such as herbal, authentic berry blends, low sugar and low-cal, and other factors that will lend themselves to a health-conscious demographic.

Co-packing companies are going through a slow but steady change toward environmentally safer packing materials. While there may be less incentive for co-packing companies to change their methods, many are looking to include ecologically safe options as the Gen Z demographic grows more eco-conscious. Especially within the beverage industry, plastic is often used as a cheap material for binding cans and bottles together in packs. Awareness campaigns by marine biologists have highlighted how harmful plastic is to the ocean; 8 million metric tons of plastic go into the sea annually and biodegrade slowly over hundreds of years. One of the more notable efforts to combat this predicament comes from a Coca-Cola bottling facility in Philadelphia showcasing its fiber-based packaging material instead of plastic. While this might be a small step for the Coca-Cola brand, this trend could allow big brands to pave the way for the smaller beverage brands to pursue environmentally friendly packaging methods. With more customers and retailers becoming more ecologically conscious, alternative forms of co-packing also emerge. 

2023 Beverage Trends - Plastic and Aluminum Cans being knocked over

Aluminum cans are a continuing trend that will prosper because they are more efficient and easier to recycle. However, even recycling aluminum cans has become more complicated due to a concerning factor in the beverage industry: shrink-sleeves/wraps. Shrink sleeves/wraps are an ever-growing trend for a low-cost packaging/printing alternative for cans in the beverage industry. Although they are cost-effective and visually appealing, shrink-sleeves/wraps are an additional hurdle in efficiently recycling aluminum cans because the plastic sleeve/wrap must still be removed. The industry has realized this ever-growing issue and has since released T-perforation options for shrink-sleeves, this new design will become a must-have option when producers opt in for shrink-sleeves.

The budding use of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and polyester bottling in beverage manufacturing is a prominent concern with environmentalists & consumers. Despite the trend of manufacturers using PET for bottling, it’s not without its faults. PET is a form of plastic that is often more easily malleable in use than standard plastic, which is an excellent tool for customizing your products. While many companies will market the recyclability of PET bottles, they need to practice what they preach. Many significant industries still make more plastic than needed and often don’t reuse these supplies. As the PET trend catches on, it’s up to consumers to find creative and ensuring ways of recycling PET plastic bottles for the overall betterment of the earth. As beverage production incorporates new and emerging technological innovations to account for the impact of production on the environment and consumer health, beverage developers must remember to take their time with their ideas to fit the continually evolving changes in the industry. 

“It is critical for new clients to take their time to evaluate all aspects of a beverage formulation, packaging, and production in regulating best practices. Ready-to-drink cocktails and spirits will continue to expand into unconventional packaging formats like aluminum bottles, bag-in-box, and other size offerings over the next few years; emerging brands must take time to develop their products that perfectly combine production with sustainability, ethicality, and long-term growth.”Brad Nichols, Business Development Executive Director

While 2023 brings much-needed ease from years of challenging circumstances, this analysis reminds us that we must be continually conscious of how the products we consume affect our health and our consumption affects our planet’s well-being. With 30 years in the beverage business and over 80,000 drink formulations, Flavorman compiles this annual trends summary and examines various beverage projects passed through its laboratory over the year. We encourage consumers and producers alike to remember that we are all accountable for finding inventive and innovative ways to participate in responsible and healthy consumption.

See how last year’s Flavor Trends compare.

Have a beverage idea that would trend in 2023? Flavorman can help you bring it to life! Call us at (502)273-5214 or contact our team through this webform.


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Written on December 9, 2022.

What would 2022 be if it were a beverage?

We all struggled in 2022, trying desperately to recover from the global turmoil of the prior years.  With Covid-19 now slowly (hopefully!) retreating from the daily landscape, the world was finally taking steps to return to a new normalcy.  But even in a world that may feel more “normal” than in 2021, changes abounded in 2022. From Bob Saget to Queen Elizabeth II to Coolio, inspirational lights went out around us; the conflict in Ukraine grows, ebbs, and flows day by day; people were enthralled by new movies and TV shows about Jeffrey Dahmer and Top Gun, and Will Smith rocked the Oscars broadcast with “The Slap Heard Round the World.” Inflation, unemployment rates, housing prices, and ongoing supply chain issues all wrought their own havoc worldwide as well.

As people returned to public gatherings to discuss serious world events (sprinkled with the latest gossip) and mull over prominent news stories with loved ones, neighbors, and peers, there was plenty of opportunity to “spill the tea.”  As a beverage, 2022 would represent not only the world’s reawakening but also the calm after the storm. That fresh invigoration and subsequent calm are perfectly captured in a tea.

Designing a beverage that reflects 2022, we are reminded that lavender and berries are sweet, juicy, and natural — symbolizing people blossoming and thriving in an altered world after the storm. The addition of ginseng could embody our desire to improve our health, as ginseng is purported to have positive medicinal benefits.  A touch of gentian root with its inherent bitterness represents the many hardships that occurred in 2022, like the conflict in Ukraine, supply chain issues, and continued inflation (as well as the lingering sting on Chris Rock’s cheek!).

There will always be adversity and strife, and despite the turmoil in 2022, there was also plenty to celebrate. So a drop or two of honey illustrates the good times and positivity of the year. That touch of honey will also indicate the importance of bees to our world and the flowers they pollinate.  Honey models an environmental awareness that is now moving to the forefront of our public consciousness.

The flavors in the 2022 beverage represent mankind’s unity while continuing to remind us of our challenges and the bittersweet nature of the world in which we live.  So, if the year 2022 was a beverage, it would be a tea drink sweetened with honey and berries with flavors of lavender, ginseng, and gentian — sweet, juicy, and natural with a healthy slant featuring a bitter taste. A complicated and multi-faceted year like 2022, and a flavor profile that deserves a name to its liking, and no better name fits than the Unflappable Flavor: a flavor so complicated and contradictory that to the untrained tongue it may seem strange, like 2022. However, as you unfold the various flavors, you’ll find a level of comfort and familiarity with the unflappable flavor profile that is much needed in times of crisis and turmoil. As we move toward 2023, never forget: Life is Delicious!


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Written on October 28, 2022.

If you’ve ever been to an authentic Mexican or Latin-American restaurant, chances are you might be familiar with the milky and sweet beverage, Horchata, or even “rice water,” as you may have heard it commonly called. Nothing goes better with a Latin American dish than a sweet and refreshing Horchata. Horchata has existed for centuries and is a staple in Latin and Central American eateries. It’s a creamy, often milky, sweet beverage that is usually concocted from grains, nuts, or seeds soaked in water for long periods of time. To spice up the beverage, you can add cinnamon and various other herbs and spices. Unknown to most, however, is that Horchata varies from region to region, and each recipe brings a unique flavor. Let’s dive into the origins of the Horchata and reveal how some key variations changed what the world is drinking

Where it comes from

You would be surprised how far the horchata influence has reached over the years. Although there isn’t precisely one originator for the drink, culinary experts have traced the origins back to North Africa all the way back to 2400 BC. In Nigeria and Mali, a similar beverage is called “Kunnu Aya,” but in the 11th century, the recipe spread to the “new” world countries such as Spain and Portugal, due to the Muslim Moors. The original Horchata is made from Tiger nuts ( seeds that come from Yellow Nutsedge) found in Southern Europe, Africa, and Madagascar. When the Spanish conquistadors and Moors copied the recipe from Africa, they made the Horchata into a rice-based beverage since they didn’t have tiger nuts readily available. The rice horchata grew so popular in Spain that King James of Aragon had dubbed it “liquid gold,” and some even graced it as “the drink of gods” for its flavor alone. While the tiger nuts version of the drink would make its way to Spain, the rice horchata, or “rice water,” became the Spaniard’s favorite and a recipe we still use today. The modern Mexican Horchata is made with rice and then sweetened with cinnamon and sugar; sometimes, milk is included in the recipe. Currently, the “classic” rice horchata flavor profile can be enjoyed in ice cream, cookies, horchata-flavored frappes, and alcoholic beverages such as “Rumchata”

Horchata Variations

The Horchata has appeared in several variations and different recipes throughout its history. Some may not even fit the typical profile of what most know as a horchata, but they still count. The “horchata” in Spanish is a generic term that applies to any sweet beverage made from grains, ground nuts, and various spices. With such a loose definition, there are many ways a drink can be considered a “horchata,” and it varies from culture to culture. Here are some of the more common ones that would be sweet new beverages to quench your thirst wherever you travel.  


Horchata De Arroz: There is no better place to start than the most familiar Horchata that you’ve likely encountered before: The Horchata De Arroz. The Mexican Horchata is the beverage we commonly call rice water in the U.S. This Horchata is made with cinnamon, water, and soaked rice. Sometimes it’s substituted with milk instead to make it sweeter. To make it, you simply wash and soak your white rice in hot water, place a stick of cinnamon in hot water as it boils, and then process the rice into a blender. While it may be a bit gritty after its blended, you’ll end up with a delicious treat to enjoy with any Latin American cuisine.

Horchata De Chufa: Time to go back a little and get a taste of the original recipe, Horchata De Chufua!  Also known as the Spanish Horchata, this beverage is one of the most common horchatas in the U.S. and Latin countries, but still very distinctive from the rice water we’re more familiar with. The Spanish Horchata is made with tiger nuts exported from Africa and Madagascar. Although it’s not as sweet as the Horchata De Arroz, the Horchata De Chufa can have a sweetened and savory almond flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste.  

Horchata Deajon Joji: If you’re into beverages with a more nutty taste, then this Horchata is for you! The Horchata Deajon is made from untoasted sesame seeds, sugar, and water, although sometimes milk is used as a sweetener. Unlike other horchatas, the horchata deajon doesn’t call for any additional spices. To make it, you soak untoasted sesame seeds in hot water for four hours or overnight, and then place the soaked seeds in a blender with sugar. As a result, you’ll have a nutty but sweet beverage that is simple and cheap to make.

Semilla de Jicaro/Morro Seed Horchata: Want to depart from the rest of the horchatas? If so, you certainly need to take note of this melon horchata. The melon horchata is a little closer to an “agua de Fresca” or melon water, but to make it involves soaking seeds, so it still counts within the horchata family. The melon horchata uses a mass of melon pulp for the body and the seeds for a splash of nutty flavor. With a mix of melon pulp and seeds, honey or sugar, and a splash of lime juice, you place it all in a blender until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Like the other horchatas, this one can be gritty but certainly just as refreshing as its name’s sake.  

Horchata Origins  

Ecuadorian Horchata: If you Really want to mix up your horchata pallet, then the Ecuadorian Horchata is a must-have treat. Probably one of the most distinct on the list, the Ecuadorian Horchata is more like tea and less milky than the others. The Ecuadorian Horchata is blended with 18 different herbs and flowers, such as chamomile, mint, lemongrass, borage, roses, violets, and carnations, to name a few. With such a combination, this Horchata can taste like a floral fruit punch and gives off a red color, which comes from blood leaf and amaranth. The 18 herbs blend makes the Ecuadorian Horchata hard to create outside of the country due to its complicated combination. Some herbs needed are treated with harmful pesticides in the U.S. However, some Latin American vendors sell pre-made Ecuadorian horchata blends for you to enjoy its fruity and herbal flavor. 

When you’re ready to talk about your idea to change what the world is drinking, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.   

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Written on October 28, 2022.

What do White Claw, Vizzy, Truly, and other ready-to-drink alcohol beverage companies have in common? Simply put, they’re all a product of a fermentation process commonly called “sugar-brew.” Sugar-brew is the sugar from sugar cane, beets, or corn used as the alcohol base. Sugar-brew products differ from something like beer which uses grains for its fermentation base. It’s typically a method used for home-brewers but has very recently become a popular alternative to fermented grain beverages like vodka or beer. We’re here to explore what sugar-brew is, what makes the process unique, the value of using it in your product, and highlight some of the most popular brands bringing it to market.  

The Sugar-brew Process

The sugar-brew process is similar to brewing any other type of alcohol, but to get a better understanding, let’s lay out one key concept: fermentation. Fermentation is simply when a substance is broken down and converted into something else. It’s like legos or toy building blocks; you can use heat to break down grain or bacteria and make something new during fermentation. Most craft beers are fermented by taking the sugar in yeast and grains and converting it into alcohol. Because sugar is a reasonably simple compound, the alcohol compounds from sugar are smaller and not nearly as strong as beer. Thus, once sugar is fermented, you’re left with a colorless gluten-free brew with lower calories than most beverages. Sugar-brew is growing increasingly popular in the market as it’s expanded the possibilities of selling alcohol and non-alcohol beverages.

Seltzers and “beyond beer” products are created in similar processes in that they’re both fermented using yeast and a sugar source that’s turned into alcohol. The difference is that when beer is fermented, the sugar is extracted by “wort” or malt extract and water. For sugar brew, the wort process is skipped entirely, and the sugar cane is fermented in water. Many more brands, such as Corona, Crook & Marker, Four Loko, and even Bud Light, are catching on to the alternative alcohol base, sugar brew.   

Sugar Brew Brands

Many brands are taking advantage of the sugar-brew craze that seems to be sweeping the beverage industry by storm. More notably, brands that sell hard seltzers have been making significant strides in the market for years now as more consumers want ready-to-drink cocktails and beer alternatives. Hard seltzers also include labels such as “beyond beer” and incorporate spirit-based and wine-based seltzers. Some of the brands that are making a splash in the sugar-brew method are Bon & Liv, White Claw, and Coors seltzers to only name a few. Bon & Liv is a beverage company that sells hard seltzers in various flavors. The spiked seltzers are brewed with natural sugar cane, only 90 calories, and 4.8% ABV. One of the more popular forms of sugar brewed is White Claw. White Claw serves beverages that are made from seltzer water, gluten-free malted alcohol base, and various flavors. The base primarily has 51% sugar, small amounts of yeast, nutrients, and water. Another brand that is also taking advantage of the sugar-brew craze is Coors seltzers. Much like Bon & Liv, their seltzers are low in calories and brewed from sugar cane, but they also use the lightness of the seltzers to pack their beverages with fruit aromas such as black cherry, mango, lemon-lime, and grapefruit. 

Sweet for All

What makes sugar-brew unique? We’ve discussed what makes the sugar-brew process remarkable, but what about from a consumer perspective? Or even a production and sales perspective? The sugar-brew phenomenon has many benefits.  From the point of view of the average consumer, the appeal comes from getting a beverage that has light calories and alcohol (if preferred), less sugar and sweetness, and a wider variety of flavors. Many people this year are looking for products that will aid them in their health-conscious goals, and many sugar-brew products are a sweet enough reward for such an audience. Others merely love the variety of flavors that sugar-brew products can produce. Many consumers are looking to drink and explore different flavors for a varied pallet, and sugar-brew products are a great addition. 

From a sales perspective, any respectable company would consider sugar brew products because of their variety in beverage labeling. The Federal Alcohol Administration(FAA) labels sugar-brew products as malt beverages and beer. Sugar-brew offers a variety of categories to a broader audience for beverage sellers. And finally, sugar-brew even has benefits for production packaging! The vast methods of production reach many different co-packaging options. Sugar-brew beverages are accessible for taproom and retail products.   

Sugar-brew is something everyone in the beverage industry should keep an eye on. It’s a unique brewing technique that can develop flavorful and varied beverages, offers tasteful and dignified alcohol alternatives, and is a safe venture for beverage producers. Soon, even more varieties of sugar products will expand the market and become standard in the alcohol world as beer itself.

If reading about the sugar brew trend has sparked some ideas for your beverage, fill out this form, and we can help you change what the world is drinking..   


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Written on October 3, 2022.


No matter how old you get, there’s still something nostalgic about getting a slushie at a gas station on a hot summer’s day. From the loud slurping sounds made sucking through the straw to your colored tongue, there’s no childhood experience like drinking a slushie on a hot summer’s day. Not a popsicle and too solid to be soda, the slushie has become a quick staple as a gas-station treat and is on the market by numerous global brands. Why are slushies so famous? How were they invented? What makes them so unique as a beverage? We’ll discover the slushies origins and examine how such a simple and accidental invention changed what the world is drinking.     

A Happy Accident

Like many great beverage or food inventions, the slushies origin began with somewhat of a happy accident. It started with a Dairy Queen owner named Omar Knedlik in the 1950s. Knedlik was a World War II veteran who used his earnings to buy an ice cream shop. After discovering a passion for the ice cream industry, Knedlik moved to Coffeyville, Kansas, in the late 50s and used the remainder of his war earnings to buy a Dairy Queen franchise. One fateful day, Omar’s soda machine failed, so he stored all his soda in his freezer. Overnight, the soda became a snow-like substance that retained its Coca-Cola flavor. Wanting to get rid of it, Knedlik sold the slushies to his customers, and they became an instant favorite. 

With the accidental slushie becoming more popular, Omar needed to find a way to produce them quickly. Knedlik took an air conditioner unit from a car and changed it into a slushie machine. The slushie machine would combine and freeze a flavor concentrate with water and carbon dioxide. The machine kept the slushie mix turning, so it wouldn’t solidify in the container. Originally Knedlik wanted to call his accidental invention “Scoldasice” (S’cold as ice), but with help from Ruth E. Taylor, an advertising and marketing professional, the two settled on the name that we all know and love today: “ICEE.” Knedlik partnered with the John Mitchell company (Which sold appliances and functional hardware materials) to mass produce and patent slushie machines to sell, further solidifying his invention in the market. 

Slushie Explosion!

Soon after getting the patent for the slushie machines, Knedlik made a licensing deal with the 7-Eleven company to sell “ICEES” in their locations. So that the two slushie brands wouldn’t compete, the 7-Eleven company named its slushies “Slurpees” after the sound one makes when trying to suck them through a straw. Many frozen carbonated beverages (FCB) followed, such as “Slush Puppies,” “Thirst Buster,” as well as brands that have developed their own line of slushie flavors, such as “Circle K” and “Sonic.” As the slushies became increasingly popular, distributors kept finding new and unique ways of advertising their fresh flavors and mixes. In the 70s, marketers started tapping into the youth trends of the times and appealing to them through cup designs, creative advertisements, and popular flavor choices. One way Slurpees were advertised was In 1967 when Tom Merriman made the song “Dance the Slurp” for the 7-Eleven company, and it became an anthem for teenagers to buy slushies.


Another marketing tactic that was utilized were the cups! The cup designs became a unique way for companies to advertise their slushie products. In the ’70s, the 7-Eleven company started selling cups with pictures of sports stars, comic book characters, rock bands, and even early video games. There were even limited edition cups that came annually with movie releases. Such a trend persisted to the early 2000s, with blockbuster movies like Spider-man, the Simpsons, Hulk, and Iron Man. Lastly, one of the greatest appeals of slushies is, of course, the flavors themselves. Originally slushie flavors were cola or cherry-flavored beverages since they derived from the popular sodas of the 50s and 60s. As sodas accumulated more flavors, so did slushies. Any flavor of slushie you can think of is now imaginable.   

Frozen Flavors

More options for new flavors come with further complications in mixing a delicious slushie. Assembling the slushie machine has gotten smaller and more straightforward, but creating a sweet and impactful slushie flavor can be a tricky balancing act. Essentially, creating a flavor for a slushie to replicate its soda profile takes a higher sugar concentration than the original formula; this is primarily due to the ice crystals in slushies that melt and can water down the flavor profile of the slushie. While some slushies derive from established soda brands like Sprite or Dr. Pepper, slushies were truly revolutionized when beverage architects began creating unique flavor blends. One of the best examples includes places such as Sonic, which is partially known for having an array of slushie flavors. 

“Some flavors are super concentrated where you essentially only add a few drops and others where you add more than you would think. When developing with them, you must know how that flavor will affect the flavor profile and what might mask all other flavors. Some flavors like the Blue Raspberry are super simple, but others like the Cotton Candy are surprisingly difficult.”-Tolman Elwell, Beverage Architect-Flavorman  

At Flavorman, we treat our employees and guests to our own unique slushie flavors such as Criss-Cross Applesauce, Prickly Pear Hibiscus, and many more during the summer months of the year. The slushies are developed by our Beverage Architects working in the lab daily to change what the world and staff are drinking. 


When you’re ready to talk about your idea to change what the world is drinking, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.


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Written on September 26, 2022.

So, you have a ground-breaking idea for your beverage. Excellent! Now you have to start building a beverage brand!  But where do you start? You could start with the ingredients or the flavor you want to develop. You could begin with how to package it, but the further you travel down that rabbit hole, you may find yourself circling back to how you are going to market your beverage. Doing the hard work upfront such as understanding your target audience, establishing your brand’s identity, and working with the right professionals along the way will help you immensely in building your beverage brand and the strategy you take into the market.

Finding Your Target Audience 

You can start from many different points in the beverage development process but determining your target audience first can help you discover what makes your brand unique and visually appealing, gradually helping you boil down your beverage profile. Whomever you decide to sell your beverage to will play a key role in what goes into your drink and how it’s promoted. Let’s hypothetically say you want your drink to appeal to a Caribbean audience. To do so, you may want to think of more tropical blends of fruit flavors to use in your beverage. Or, if your target audience is children, you might want to brainstorm popular packaging trends in that age demographic.

“Your selection of flavors should appeal to your intended audience and attract them to trying your product. The same could be said with sweetener choices. Choose the ingredients that reinforce your brand identity and makes a difference to your target consumers.”- Brad Nichols, Director of Business Development – Flavorman

When imagining your target audience, not only do you want to consider current trends, but you’ll also want to think about age demographics, what your audience values, and what they will get out of a product. Picking your target audience can be very intuitive; most people aim to create a drink they would like personally or a beverage that appeals to family and friends. While it can be a great place to start, you want to be especially specific, considering that many brands in the market may already fill that void. How will your beverage or brand stand out in the market? It can be a lot to think about, but the best way to narrow your audience down is to consider what people value and how your product might add to their lives. You also might want to think about what entertains or grabs your audience’s attention. When promoting to younger demographics, you might consider using mascots or cartoons. Or, if you’re selling to blue-collar workers, you might want to show how your product can fit or improve their work schedule. Establishing that target audience will not only help make ingredient decisions, but it will also lead to your overall characteristics or brand attributes. 

Building a Beverage Brand

Brand Attributes  

When marketing your beverage, you’ll also want to consider the characteristics that make your brand unique. Think of it this way, many brands have attributes that set them apart; for example, Amazon emphasizes its fast-shipping delivery or, Digiorno emphasizes its restaurant-quality pizza. Other brands use their intriguing backstories to promote their products, such as Uncle Nearest and others that advertise for convenience, like Kool-Aid. When establishing the identity of your brand, brainstorm the unique features that separate you from your competitors.

“Brand attributes are the pillars that set the foundation for the narrative or the strategic positioning of your brand in the marketplace. That’s critical because being consistent against that foundation or that narrative is really what’s going to set your brand apart in the marketplace and really attract people to it.”Jeff Insco, President/Executive Director – UPBrand

Does your brand have a captivating story behind its creation? Is there something in your beverages that will improve someone’s life? Are there other services that you want to provide under the brand? Our brand attributes help establish our own identity that we use to make our brand unique and stay consistent. One way to help you begin conjuring your brand attributes is to think of your brand as a living being. What descriptors would you attach to them? Brand attributes are the conceptual ideas, characteristics, and stories that paint a mental picture of the brand. Once those brand attributes are established you can work on developing a product that fits your brand and create your visual identity. 

 Building a Beverage Brand

Flavorman’s Brand Attributes:

  • The Total Beverage Package: Unlike others in the beverage formulation space, our services span the entire continuum of the beverage development process. We offer beverage education, certification, flavor formulation, production, regulatory, R&D, sourcing, manufacturing and more— a single source solution.
  • Unmatched Expertise:  We bring decades of experience from the beverage industry. Our seasoned team represents a range in specialties including flavor chemistry, product development, production, distillery operations, beverage quality control, packaging, and other technical beverage areas with access to an extensive roster of industry partners. Throughout the experience with [our brand], clients learn from the best in the business.
  • Your constant collaborator:  Flavorman considers our client’s beverage a journey. The process is designed to ensure clients have a voice and gain important industry knowledge to increase their opportunity for success. We win when clients win.
  • An Elite Experience:  We’ve spent decades perfecting our services, processes and products to give customers a world-class experience and uphold our reputation for excellence in the beverage industry. From the first encounter to their finished product, clients reap the benefits of our immersive, service-oriented business model. We provide solutions!
  • Customized to a Client’s Vision: No client’s experience, goals, or dreams are the same. Flavorman provides solutions and flexibly designed to deliver what a client requires and explores the possibilities for what a client could achieve.

Visual Identity  

One of the first things you think of when you think of a brand you like is the logo. Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Jim Beam and many more brands have memorable visual identities that grab your attention. Once you have established your brand attributes, you can start conceptualizing your brand’s visual identity. While working with a marketing agency, you can begin creating branded collateral and ensure that your brand’s visual aesthetic fits today’s standards. First, you must set the stage of your visual identity, which means deciding on a few key elements such as color, typography, voice/tone, and aesthetic styles that ultimately help you create a visual portfolio that represents your brand. Your brand’s visual identity needs to stay consistent throughout all platforms and mediums. A combination of those visual attributes will give you the tools to create a roadmap for your brand’s visual story. Afterwards you can start thinking about your logos, labels, website, packaging, and advertisements for your product. It’s important to note that your visual identity is more than just one of these visual aspects; they are visual pieces of a larger puzzle that tell the story and characteristics of your brand. 

“We use the brand attributes and assets to inspire our creative team to create a visual vocabulary for the brand. That could be colors, typefaces or fonts, iconography, logo marks; all the things that are going to visually send a cue about your brand.”- Jeff Insco, President/Executive Director – UPBrand

Building a Beverage Brand

Once you’ve done the hard work of identifying your target audience, establishing brand attributes, and creating a visual identity you’re ready to begin strategizing. Your market strategy will cover distribution, advertising, public relations, content creation, and social media. Having a solid market strategy will help you control the narrative of your brand, how it’s regarded, and how it’s discussed. Everything from an intriguing backstory of your product, demographics, brand attributes, and the resulting consistent visual themes, all play a role in establishing the overall identity of your brand and how you communicate that to the market.

“When looking for a marketing agency, be open about the problems you’re trying to solve. Agencies are fundamentally creative problem solvers. Be fully transparent and authentic about what you’re trying to do. It’s how we work best with our clients, and that’s the same throughout the business.” McKenzie Telthorst, VP of Brand Management – UPBrand

When you’re ready to talk about your idea to change what the world is drinking, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.


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Written on August 1, 2022.

Pina Colada

One of the world’s most famous blended drinks and cocktails is the Piña Colada. If you’re only familiar with the drink from the Rupert Holmes song, you’d be doing yourself a disservice. The perfect blend of rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and sometimes whipped cream creates a refreshing and slightly exotic drink. Considering that the Piña Colada is a popular summer drink, we’ll explore its intriguing origins, from urban legend to its various creators and contributors that made the Piña colada as we know it today.

The Legend    

According to legend, the Piña Colada was the creation of Puerto Rican pirate and revolutionary Roberto Cofresi, AKA El Pirata Cofresi. Born into a wealthy family that fell impoverished due to the conflicts of the Latin American Independence war, Cofresi sailed into his career as an explorer who traveled through the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Dissatisfied with the modest salary of a seaman, Cofresi quit and pursued pirating. With a rotating crew of 10 to 20 men on a stolen ship Christened the “Anna,” Cofresi evaded Puerto Rican authorities and most of the Caribbean with speed, stealing and pillaging throughout the Islands. Eventually, Cofresi and his men were captured by authorities and executed by a firing squad. After his death, urban legends spread about Cofresi’s “Robin-Hood”-like adventures. He stole from the rich and gave to the poor, and most famously was the person who is rumored to have created the Piña Colada. Rumor has it that Cofresi made the drink with the available ingredients of white rum, coconut milk, and pineapple juice in hopes of preventing a mutiny on his ship. Unfortunately, there’s no real confirmation whether the famous pirate created the recipe or not, as legend states, the recipe died with him. Historians argue how valid the story is, but regardless of its truth, Cofresi will always be associated with the Piña Colada.

Ramon V Ramon: Dawn of Pina Coladas  

The exact creator of the modern Piña Colada is a mystery based on conflicting stories. The two most famous accounts come from two men in Puerto Rico, Ramon Monchito and Don Ramon Portas. Ramon Monchito is most often credited with the creation of the Piña Colada. Monchito concocted the drink while working as a bartender at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in 1954. Monchito was a kind and humble bartender who would make piña coladas for large parties in generous proportions. When Monchito first created his Piña Colada, he made it with coconut cream, vanilla ice cream, and pineapple juice all put into a shaker with ice. At first, the Piña Colada was sold in the snack bar as a milkshake, but due to a large number of adults at the hotel, coconut rum was soon added to the mixture and became a crowd favorite. By the 60s, in order to keep up with the orders, Monchito began using an Osterizer blender to combine the ice and coconut cream faster. Soon the Piña Colada’s popularity reached Miami and became one of the best-selling blended drinks in the world.

Legend also has it that another Ramon claimed to invent the Piña Colada by the name of Don Ramon Portas. Not much is known about the individual Don Ramon, but he is also credited with creating the Piña Colada at a hotel just 2 miles west of the Caribe Hilton called the Barrachina hotel. According to his former coworkers, Don Ramon Portas created the drink in 1963; Portas made the Piña Colada in a cocktail contest that called for a drink to represent Puerto Rico. Portas’ recipe used white coconut rum, pineapple juice, and coconut cream, unlike Monchito’s original recipe which didn’t initially include rum. The dates of their creations contradict each other as Portas says that he started making Piña Coladas in 1963, while Monchito claims to have created the drink in 1954. Nowadays, most people rightfully credit Monchito for the modern Piña Colada, but some still debate Portas’ contribution. More than likely, while Monchito created the Piña Colada, Portas at least had a hand in popularizing it with tourists.

The Coco Cream      

Monchito’s and Porta’s Piña Coladas would not be as widely known today if it wasn’t for one key ingredient: coconut cream. While coconut cream and milk were readily available for most dishes, it was hard to produce in masses due to the coconut’s hardened exterior. Luckily a man named Don Ramon Lopez Iriarry, a scientist and professor of Agriculture at the University of Puerto Rico devised a solution to creating coconut cream quickly and efficiently. Working in a small lab, Professor Lopez cracked the code to easily break into the coconut shell. The coconut meat was extracted from the shell, simmered in water, and then strained. Once the pulp and liquid coconut meat were complete, Lopez mixed the Caribbean coconut cream with just the right proportion of natural sugar cane. The mixture created the sweet coconut cream that became a sensation.

Pina Colada

At first, the “Coco Lopez ” cream was mainly used for traditional island dishes, such as coconut pineapple sweet rice or coconut batter shrimp. But soon, the cream would get its most famous use in Monchito’s Piña Colada recipe. Using the perfect amount of pressure and temperature control, Lopez could produce massive amounts of coconut cream (20-30 cases of cream) a day. Lopez continued scaling up his company and The Coco Lopez cream became an international hit, so much so that it is synonymous with the original Piña Colada recipe. The Coco Lopez company even has its own Pina Colada mix that can be ordered in stores everywhere and from their website.

Although the origins of Piña Colada are debated and somewhat remain in mystery, the endurance of the ingredients and flavors have been a constant throughout its history. Now, the Piña Colada is a go-to beverage for a hot summer’s day or a tropical vacation. The best part about the Piña Colada is that it’s a sweet beverage that can be easily made at home with rum, coconut milk, and vanilla ice cream.

That’s right! Piña Colada was sometimes even made with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy this recipe for a Piña Colada milkshake that closely matches Monchito’s original recipe. The Piña Colada milkshake is easy and fun to make in a blender.


  •       Vanilla ice cream ½ oz (15 mils)
  •       Crushed pineapple 2 oz (60 mils)
  •       Coconut milk 11/2 oz (45 mils)
  •       Cream of coconut ½ oz (15 mils)
  •       Coconut flakes (for the rim of your cup)
  •       Rum (optional substitute for milk)


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