Now that the beau monde have become a little less cuckoo for coconut water (my, how easily distracted are thee), the antioxidant “energy” drink seems set to be the next great liquid infatuation. And the real buzz appears to be swirling around Bai5, which, in truth, holds itself up itself as a health-forward alternative to typical energy drinks.
Though the drink’s essence is culled from the enigmatic coffee fruit, and it has as much caffeination as a standard cup of green tea, the fruit itself is actually loaded with antioxidants. Bai resulted from Founder and CEO Ben Weiss’ clever alchemy of the coffee fruit extract, exotic juices, white tea extract and a sweetener of organic stevia.
It ticks off every trendy box, from vegan to gluten- and soy-free to its fashionista-friendly five-calorie count. And Bai5’s millionaire fans surely can’t be wrong–indeed, the hip elixir counts Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Kanye West, Diddy, and Heidi Klum amongst its glittering disciples.
But let’s face it—no one is imbibing it because it tastes like a rainforest. And while energy drinks mostly use flavoring to mask their elemental grossness, Bai5 thoughtfully comes in fun, vibrant, globe trotting flavors like Congo Pear, Costa Rica Clementine, Ipanema Pomegranate, Malawi Mango, Panama Peach and Tanzania Lemonade Tea. Each sip is a veritable portal to the Developing World!
We caught up with the correspondingly globe trotting Weiss, and prodded him for some of his most enlightening recent travel stories.
INDONESIA I travel often to Indonesia to source coffee fruit. I have a strong memory of sitting in a little coffee shop close to the Aceh airport with some of the Bai team members, including the those indigenous to the region. We were sipping on Kopi Luwak, or “civet coffee,” one of the locale’s most unique exports. It’s a delicacy made from coffee beans that have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet, a weasel-like animal indigenous to the region. Apparently this process improves the coffee because the civet knows to only pick the best beans to eat, and also because the beans are infused with enzymes during the digestion process. It is known as the most expensive coffee in the world, and sells for $700 per kilogram.
COSTA RICA I was exploring yet another beautiful coffee region in Costa Rica, as I often do to source the coffee fruit needed to make Bai. I like to explore the local areas and meet with coffee farmers to see how they harvest the fruit. On this particular trip I brought my family, and we decided to go zip-lining in the jungle; my 7-year-old daughter was the first to volunteer to zip away at 40mph through the rainforest. As payback, she made me do it upside down. It was amazing looking down at the lush green canopy, and hearing the howling monkeys below.
PARIS During a recent trip to Paris, we were walking down the Champs-Élysées and decided to stop at a local pharmacy. When I glanced at the refrigerator I saw Bai5 sitting on the shelf next to several French soft drinks! While we’re not available yet internationally, our distributor is testing European markets and I just so happened to stumble into the right place. It was a monumental moment of pride for me.