I love tracking the invention of an outstanding artisan innovation. It’s like you can see the products’ ingredients forming in the back story of its creator. The DNA or substance of the thing can be traced right back to the innovators motivations, life experiences and serendipitous connections to the world. It’s such captivating and important information that I think we should consider putting it on the label next to the ingredients. Until we figure out how to do that, we’ll have to keep going with this blog in order to unfold what it is you’re actually buying at your local Raeward Fresh.
Angus Brown grew up in Hawkes Bay with parents who both worked in public schools. As a young adult he went to uni studying finance and accounting but it was his love of music that really connected him with the world sparking a successful stint as a DJ through his years at school. As you can imagine, young Angus did not want to work at a bank and while he had a great feel for culture in general, he did not want to work at a soulless ad agency either. The natural choice then, he took a job at a large beverage company selling energy drinks. Um, yeah.
Glad for the work but unable to reconcile the selling of caffeine + sugar to the public, Angus remained unsettled in himself and his work. During this time he lost two grandparents to brain related diseases and started his own enquiry into brain health. His search for meaningful work and self expression eventually led Angus to the Food Bowl, a 30 million dollar Willie Wonka type think tank promoting the launch of NZ food products into the rest of the world. It was in the midsts of this fantastic environment – and while helping others launch their own artisan revolution – that Angus started putting his own puzzle pieces together. Some of those pieces were:
Around this time the staff at The FoodBowl were encouraged to develop their own food and beverage ideas. Angus thus began the formal process of figuring out what a world class brain drink would look like. He started by working with a talented industrial designer and friend Zac Robinson who would help conceptualize a space age smart drink to be assessed by neuroscientists and nutritionists. Next, Angus convinced a world renown neuroscientist to develop a natural, caffeine free mixture that would improve cognitive focus and reduce stress – all with the proviso that it needed to have at least one ingredient from NZ. The results came back with a list including black currants for euro protection and Vit C and pine bark extract known as a natural alternative to Ritalin for ADD/ADHD.
Suppliers of both these NZ ingredients provided seed funding for trials which lasted for two years. Getting the right mix of flavour and effect led to tests at the Center for Brain Research at the University of Auckland which showed that this new drink actually reduced nervousness and uncertainty. The second study is scanning the brains of participants looking to see increased alpha bran waves. It’s that alpha wave activity which helps people reach the “zone” or as Mihaly Csikszentmihályi describes it, “flow”. But Angus not being one for health claim hype simply states that his new drink definitely produces “mental clarity”. He calls it Ārepa. A 100% natural, polyphenol rich nootropic (cognitive enhancer) that actually tastes great.
With the trials and tests done, Angus and his growing crew went on to utilise a process to cold press and filter the ingredients for shelf life without heat pasteurization. No easy feat but the results are a fresh vibrant drink that has all the GMO-free goodness put into it from the bottling to your glass. A glass I shared with some friends the other day who were all impressed not only with the wonderful if not unusual flavour of the green tea extract, pine bark extract and black currant (among other ingredients) mix, but also the resulting vibe. I call it a vibe because it’s an oxygen hit, not like caffeine but rather a very cool kind of feeling that is best described as a natural calm and collected buzz. Aside from that description, I think you will have to try this for yourself.
Angus tells me that it’s not the kind of thing he thinks people should drink all the time, but rather when you need to focus, or are nervous – at say – a job interview. Whenever you are stressed, or need a bit of calm focus, Ārepa would be the go. Come by the Raeward Fresh near you and have a drink, especially before you get back into traffic.