A Laois man who has developed a range of flavoured water, splits the used fruit between compost that is spread as fertiliser on his father’s farm and a meal mix for their cattle.
Brew water is made by 29-year-old Edwyn Siney from Ballinakill, using frozen fruit and Irish spring water. “We don’t use fruit from concentrate or any added artificial or natural sweeteners, flavours, colours, preservatives or stabilisers which is industry standard,” he claimed.
“I use frozen fruit in Brew water as it is harvested when it is in season so it will retain the best flavour.”
After graduating with a BSc. in dairy business from University College Dublin (UCD) in 2015, Edwyn worked in the meat and dairy industry as a production shift manager.
“There, I picked up adaptable skills that would help me set up Brew water,” he said.
“I’ve always struggled with drinking enough water. I lead a busy life and I often find myself in front of a filling station fridge. I was always unhappy with the flavoured waters on the market that can sometimes have a list of ingredients as long as your arm,” Edwyn said.
“They were also often made with fruit from concentrate which come in powders, sludges and pellet form. I was also unhappy with the taste and colour of them.
“I began to start playing around with cutting fruit and letting it brew in the water. I wanted to strip the concept back down to its simplest element; fruit brewed in water.
“With thanks to my very patient mother, I began cutting and brewing fruit in glasses of water. It came to a stage where all the glasses were being used and there was no space in the fridge left.
“From there, I refined the fruit content to create a flavour that tasted real and fresh, a taste that I had yet to find on the market,” he said.
“I made a sample batch for quality testing and to test the market to see was there an appetite for the drink. The feedback from the stores was it tasted like actual fruit and it was unlike anything else on the market; it was a unique product.
“From there I got the confidence to take the leap in March and with the help from my local enterprise office in Laois, I secured a production facility to begin making the product.”
Making his flavoured water
The process of making his flavoured water is, Edwyn said, very simple and transparent.
“I cut the real fruit and let it brew in the Irish Spring water. This then colours and flavours the water. I remove the fruit and can the then flavoured water,” he said.
“The used fruit is then donated to farmers and used as compost to nourish future crops. I wanted to be completely transparent with the ingredient list and the process to make the consumer aware of what they are consuming.
“I also wanted the company and the product to be as sustainable as possible. Real ingredients; used fruit becomes compost to fertilise future crops; and aluminium cans and cardboard boxes for transport instead of plastic were all decisions that ultimately eat into my margin. However, I felt they were important elements in the company.”
The Laois man has a strawberry, blackberry and raspberry still flavour, with a mango and pineapple still launching in January. He is working on a sparkling version which he hopes to launch in the new year.
Brew water is available in stores, filling stations and cafes in Leinster and Munster, with a growing store count. “I want to increase the Irish store count in the short term but I see this Irish-made product being an exportable product in year two,” Edwyn said.
Unsurprisingly, he has had to face lots of obstacles.
“From the decision to leave my stable job to designing the product to securing listings, it has been a tough couple of months,” he added.
“I’m very much in the trenches trying to spread myself from manufacturing to marketing to building the brand and increasing sales. But it has been such a great learning experience and I’m on a journey to build a national brand.”
Production, Edwyn said, varies week to week: “We had great summer weather and this helped sales for chilled drinks. I’m now using the winter period to create new flavours and to build the brand and brand awareness.”
Brew water’s future
Edwyn’s plans for Brew water’s future are to increase sales, boost brand awareness and to become the flavoured water brand of choice for consumers.
“I aim to launch new flavours and I’m putting a lot of work into creating a sparkling version. It’s proving a little difficult as I am using real ingredients as opposed to added ingredients but it’s something I will succeed in,” he said.
Edwyn’s advice for anyone thinking of starting their own business is to validate their idea first.
“Make a trial batch, test your product or service on people you don’t know. Make connections with people who might be able to help you in the future and don’t be afraid to dream big,” he concluded.