Where would waterdrop® be without its flavours? Founded on the notion of adding fruit and plant extracts to ordinary water, we sat down with waterdrop’s master mixer himself CDO Christoph Hermann to discuss everything from initial ideas and ingredients to development, flavour updates – and the future.
What can you tell us about the process of creating a new flavour?
We always start from two directions: on the one hand, we talk to our customers to try to understand what they liked in the past, what they're currently looking for and what they're still missing. We want to really tap into our community and engage with them to get inspired.
On the other hand, we invest a lot of time and effort into the R&D – so, research and development – groundwork. From past experiences, we know that combining certain ingredients might affect the dissolve time or create some unwanted foam or residue. And so here we consider how natural extracts, fruit juice powders and aromas interact while brainstorming which ingredients might complement each other.
Once we have a few combinations in mind, we move on to testing. We create up to one hundred versions until there’s something we like, before shortlisting the final three to five options. These are then shared with 50 to 100 team members who rate them based on flavour, scent, aftertaste, and other aspects as taste is very subjective. Once these options pass our internal testings, we involve our community to get their perspective. When a new flavour has cleared all three stages, I’m sure we have something. This is the best feeling and also, my favourite part of the process.
How do you process the ingredients so they fit into one tiny cube while retaining as many nutrients and flavours as possible?
So, here at waterdrop®, there are three types of ingredients we use: natural aromas derived from fruits, fruit juice extracts and powders extracted directly from the plants, and lastly, fine powders that are created by micronizing the respective fruit or plant.
What’s interesting to note is, for each ingredient, the fruit or plant is always harvested and then dried on-site to a sixth of its original weight. By doing this locally, we keep our CO2 footprint for transportation to a minimum.
At the facilities, the dried ingredients are refined further by gently simmering at a very low temperature, the steam is then made into a powder. The final product is a very concentrated essence of the original fruit that only weighs a 28th of its initial weight. All the good stuff at a fraction of the weight.
How is sustainability implemented when it comes to sourcing for ingredients?
Our R&D team is fairly small, but works very empirically; constantly focusing on improving our recipes and with an aim of fulfilling the wishes and needs of our customers. We aim to create unique combinations with fruits and plants from all over the world. Traditionally, this requires a massive amount of carbon dioxide, because of the shipping weight alone. However, with our method, we preserve the essence without creating a heavy CO2 footprint, reducing our impact on the environment to the minimum.
While being plastic-friendly is important and something we are proud of, we also keep the negative implications of CO2 in mind and are constantly working on reducing it wherever we can.
How long does it take from developing a new flavour to it being launched?
Honestly, this is hard to say as there are always several new flavours in development. We have more than 20 projects running at any one time, as we keep trying new processes and recipes that influence each other.
When we create an entirely new category, for example Microlyte, it takes us about 18-24 months, which is only possible because it is built upon the most recent technical advances and groundbreaking developments.
Which flavour are you proudest of?
SNOW! No, actually I would say SKY. I'm proud of it because it was done under very difficult circumstances during the first lockdown [of the Covid-19 Pandemic]. We obviously couldn’t meet and had to establish a new process, which was complicated, because as I mentioned before, if you have to do up to a hundred tastings for one single flavour, there are several operational challenges.
It was extremely demanding, but then also extremely rewarding because it was celebrated so much by our community.
Is there something new and upcoming you would like to share with our community?
There is an upcoming flavour that I am very excited about and I can’t wait to introduce the new upgraded recipes we’ve been working on to our community. In general, there are a lot of unexpected surprises coming your way but you’ll just have to stay tuned!