It took four years to perfect Gojiccino, but the healthy, energy boosting drink is one of a kind.
Based in Ancaster and manufactured in Guelph, food developer Jennifer Low says her product is a non-caffeinated drink full of nutrients.
Small, red and football-shaped, the goji berry was a culinary staple for Low growing up. What was once used in traditional Asian meals, the goji berry has become popular and can now be found in grocery stores, such as Fortino’s or Loblaws.
The berry, used in soups or steeped in teas, can now be put into lattes and cappuccinos.
It was through her varied career around the food and communications industry, she was most recently a food editor for Canadian House and Home, Low was reintroduced to the goji berry when she was visiting California.
The idea to create something with the goji berry was ignited through a conversation with several food journalists about the growing interest in the berry.
“As a food editor, I received press releases coming in from people who have new products and I always knew I wanted to develop my own product but it had to be something that people wanted and needed,” she explained.
It started as an artisanal product and Low had to rethink her approach when it came to making it a mass commercial product.
“This meant using different equipment and thinking about the methods in a different way,” she said. “In order to get your product up to large commercial product, as the developer I have to maintain my idea of what the essence of the beverage is. I can’t lose sight of it because it’s too easy to have it morph into something else.”
A rich, dark liquid, the Gojiccino concentrate can be mixed with any type of milk to make a Gojiccino or Gojilatte. People can also choose to drink it plain, with a dose of sweetener, or as shots that can be added to brewed coffee.
“Think of it as goji espresso in a bottle, so baristas use the concentrate, froth it with any type of milk, and turn it into a latte styled drink,” said Low. ”It’s like a mochacinno with an herbal finish.”
People who don’t know what a goji berry is associate the drink and its taste to something sweet, but it’s not, she said.
“Everybody who tastes it will come up with something different,” she said. “I’ve had people tell me that it tastes like a pumpkin latte but less sweet, or it has a malty taste.”
There is no pumpkin or malt in the concentrate.
Along with regular Gojiccino patrons, each day sees new customers trying out the drink, noted Holly Gibb, a manager at Earth to Table Bread Bar on Locke Street.
“We have people who come back for it every time and it’s a nice alternative to a caffeine drink to give you energy in the morning,” she said. “We always like trying new things to give our customers to see what they like and what they’re asking for.”
Gibb noted Gojiccino adds an earthy taste to drinks and is quite filling.
“We sell it as an alternative to a caffeine beverage, similar to a protein drink because it’s filling and gives you energy for those who are working out,” Gibb added.
The drink is for anyone, from those who don’t drink coffee to those who have already had two or three cups and want a drink without caffeine.
It’s also for those who are looking to incorporate healthier foods into their diet, said Low.
Toronto’s Fresh restaurants will be offering the concentrate starting this week. Gojiccino can also be found at The Red Brick Café in Sundridge in Northern Ontario.
In three weeks, Gojiccino will be served in Toronto’s The Big Carrot, a natural food market and organic juice bar.
Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.