Meet the Makers of Kahe Sparkling Nectars
Peter Walsh and Melanie Carroll, founders of California Naturals, create beverages with the best natural and organic ingredients found on the planet…right in our own backyard!
By John Nava
Their goal was simple: Make great tasting, healthy and refreshing beverages with the best natural and organic ingredients found on the planet.
We’re talking about Peter Walsh and Melanie Carroll of California Naturals and, well, they nailed it with their Kahe Sparkling Nectar drinks! If you’ve been a Sigona’s customer for a while you’ve likely sampled Kahe…whether your favorite is Kiwifruit, Passion Fruit or Bing Cherry, you’ll be happy to know Kahe is now available in a convenient 4-pack tote.
A little history
Peter and Melanie, introduced a few years ago by a friend, discovered after meeting they both had similar feelings about the sameness of the plethora of beverages on grocery store shelves. Each had been on their own quest to find something simple, flavorful, refreshing and unique they’d feel good about drinking and, at that point, decided to take matters into their own hands.
As the saying goes: sometimes the only way to get something done is to do it yourself.
“What we truly wanted was something that we could drink anytime of the day and not worry about the effects on our body or minds; we wanted something more flavorful than water, but not 100 percent juice, which tends to have too much sugar,” said Peter. “We wanted the fruit taste without all the common drawbacks found in so many products, and we wanted the product to have effervescence, but just enough to make your tongue tingle.”
With this in mind, Peter, who grew up in Atherton, Calif., and Melanie, a native of New Zealand, experimented with flavors and juices in their small cottage kitchen in Atherton. They settled on the three flavors we carry today: Bing Cherry, Passion Fruit and Kiwifruit (made with juices from kiwi grown in Melanie’s hometown). They were happy to discover they were able to create the amazing taste from the fruits – no artificial ingredients or sugar necessary – just unique sweeteners Stevia and Xylitol; at the time, no other juice based beverage on the market used them. The finished Kahe product is all natural with a low-calorie count.
Friends and family encouraged the pair to try their hand at selling the sparkling beverages, so Peter came to Sigona’s. He remembers shopping at Sigona’s with his mom when he was a child and her saying that Sigona’s had the best produce.
I clearly remember the day Peter came to pitch me, the specialty foods buyer for both stores, his business idea and beverage. With one sniff I proclaimed that the Bing Cherry Kahe smelled just like a box of fresh cherries – something we’re familiar with being a produce market! As a buyer I sample a lot of products, but can honestly say I knew Peter had a winner so we encouraged him to get going on production.
Becoming a Household Name
Before long, Kahe hit the shelves and became an instant success with our customers. Now that California Naturals has a fan base stretching to opposite ends of the Peninsula, they have taken the next step in beverage production and are introducing a 4-pack.
“This has been our number one customer request. We decided to do a universal 4-pack so people can mix and match their favorite flavors,” said Melanie. “Peter and I designed all of our packaging and labels in-house and are also developing new flavors that we hope to launch soon.”
Experimenting with new flavors and sampling to passersby at weekly events, such as the Menlo Park Block Parties and the San Carlos Hot Harvest Nights has helped get Kahe on the track to becoming a household name.
“We love seeing people’s faces going from skeptical to excited when they try Kahe and love it,” said Melanie. “It’s especially great seeing kid’s faces and we love that they get so excited about our “soda” without knowing that they are in reality getting a healthy treat.”
Finding the right fit for their beverage has of course helped their business get solid footing.
“Figuring out what type of stores will help get product moving and are truly supportive of local, small vendors, like Sigona’s, has been a tremendous help,” said Peter. “My mom, who passed away a few years ago, was a loyal Sigona’s customer and John Nava said he remembered her when I spoke with him about starting our business. Sigona’s was the first retail outlet to support our business, and it meant a lot to me to start with them because of my mom. There’s a lot of history there.”
I like to think of this as a ‘local boy hits the jackpot in his own backyard’ type of story. We were able to give them a healthy start and now Kahe has really taken off! You can even find them in a several other stores throughout the Peninsula and elsewhere.
In addition to the coupon offer for a free 4-pack of Kahe valid this week, we’ll be offering some awesome deals on the sparkling nectars for the next few weeks; the deals involve free Kahe 4-packs so be on the lookout for more information soon!
Check out Peter and Melanie’s suggestions for different ways to enjoy Kahe, besides as is, of course:
- Make Kahe popsicles
- Make Kahe floats — the Bing Cherry and Passion Fruit make delicious ice cream floats, and you can sub in some vanilla frozen yogurt for the ice cream to make a low-cal version.
- Kaherita, anyone? That’d be margarita made with Kahe. If tequila doesn’t float your boat, check out the California Naturals website for more Kahe cocktail concoctions.
Make sure you check your e-newsletter for the Kahe coupon, valid May 18-24, 2011, and, as always, thank you for supporting the Sigona’s local vendors.