Some food, some drink.
Proper Hydration Meets Stimulation: A Review of Zoom Water All-Natural Spring Water with Caffeine(!)
There's a new caffeinated beverage in town, and this one's got everything you want, and none of what you don't. Zoom Water is an all-natural spring water from the mountains of Idaho that's been bolstered with the zing of naturally-sourced caffeine. The good folks who make Zoom Water have taken the time to answer all of my questions about their appropriately-named beverage, and even gave me a few to try for myself. So does Zoom Water really taste as clean and refreshing as the all-natural mountain spring water that it's sourced from? Follow along, good reader, and find out!
Like so many other folks that are on the go nowadays, I am a self-proclaimed caffeine junkie. In a diet of moderation (mostly), caffeine is probably the one thing I often overdo. When I was "blessed" with Mono in college I was forced to kick the caffeine habit, and I endured three days of sheer agony to do it. For the way I roll, caffeine gives me focus and keeps those around me from having to tolerate a cranky gen-x'er. Likewise, I've always been a sucker for a new beverage. I've never been one to shy away from a new drink (alcoholic, or alcoholic, or otherwise), so when the good folks at Zoom Water gave me an opportunity to sample their take on caffeinated water <full disclosure> and hooked me up with 3 bottles free of charge </full disclosure>, how could I refuse?
So, I tried Zoom Water; and hey, guess what? It tastes exactly like water. Hmm... Well, that was easy, right? Naw, I don't believe that for a second. How'd they do that? I needed to know more, so I fired off my inquiries to Zoom Water's very helpful folks on Twitter who hooked me up with an interview with Zoom Water's CEO, Scott Thomas. Scott was gracious enough to answer each and every one of my questions honestly and in detail. The complete interview follows below (Oh, and any hyperlinking in the interview was put there by yours truly for your convenience, gentle reader. After all, isn't accessibility what what the Interwebs is all about?).
Where did the idea for Zoom Water come from, and what sets y'all apart from other caffeinated waters out there?
It is true that there are other caffeinated waters out there, and Zoom doesn't lay any claim to the concept. I was first introduced to one of them (not naming names to be polite) almost 15 years ago now. The problem was that despite being caffeine and water, which as a total caffeine junkie I thought was SO freakin' cool, the product actually tasted horrible. There was a bitter aftertaste that was inescapable. I was in love with the idea, just not the product. Over the years since I've met other caffeine-enhanced waters and basically ran into the same problem. I started putting some effort into tracking down a caffeine additive that would truly be tasteless. I felt like it could be done, for real, and spent years finding the right formula. When we found it, we bought the rights to it so that it would be a Zoom exclusive.
I think what sets us apart is that Zoom Water has finally done what the others have all claimed to do: enhance water with a truly tasteless caffeine. Another main component of our success, we think, is that our water is refreshing mountain spring water from an incredible source in the mountains above Boise, Idaho. Some other caffeine waters are using "purified" water, which is secret code for filtered municipal water. Something just seems off with that. Zoom Water runs out of the bottle crisp, refreshing, and tasting like (drum roll please) a great rush of water.
I understand that Zoom Water is a family-owned business. Do y'all have a history with Idaho spring water, or perhaps something completely different?
Our background is actually in entertainment. We're in the music business, and also own a boutique publishing company.
The label says that a 16.9oz (0.5L) bottle of Zoom Water has as much Caffeine as as an 8oz cup of coffee or a 12oz soft drink. Just how much buzz are we really talking about here? (ex. Mountain Dew says 55 mg on the back of their can).
Each bottle contains 70mg of caffeine. It's more than some sodas, less than others, and about as much caffeine as a big cup of light roast coffee. We felt like 70 was a good number. You definitely feel the energy and alertness that comes with the added caffeine without getting the shakes, or feeling like crap two hours later. It's a nice burst of energy, bolstered by hydration.
Where do you get your caffeine? And what part of it being a "proprietary blend" makes it so darn special?
Our proprietary blend is called Z-Caff and is manufactured exclusively for us. The main trick is extracting the caffeine from green coffee beans at a very particular time in their life. We've learned that caffeine can be extracted from all kinds of sources (or synthetic blends made in a lab) but ours is truly tasteless in the quantities being bottled in Zoom Water.
What's up with the water in Idaho? Was it a conscious decision to bottle there? Are there other natural springs that in the future might be "Zoom Water worthy"?
We spent a lot of time looking for a source we would be proud of. Rocks Spring in Idaho is an incredible water source, and we're so lucky to have found them. Unlike some springs, Rocks Spring water runs through a mountain, underground for virtually its entire journey to their bottling equipment. This means a far lesser opportunity for any environmental contamination, and also that there are no animals or other users upstream contaminating the water before we get it. The water has a great natural taste, and is tested perfect. Aside from finding the right caffeine to put in our product, pairing it with the right water was an essential decision. As we look to expand our business nationally, it may very well make sense for us to partner with other spring water locations across the country. If and when it comes to that, we'll take a good hard look, taste lots, and make sure that we can guarantee a consistent product across multiple vendors. But for now, we're happy with our Idaho source and we're building the brand steadily from there.
Can you talk a little about the bottle? Just what is "oxo-biodegradeable"?
As a brand new beverage company, one thing we learned early in our research was that there is a lot of negativity surrounding the plastic bottles used for bottled water. It was a no-brainer to be sure that Zoom Water bottles were 100% recyclable, but we all know that a large percentage of bottles still make it to landfills, and wind up as trash or litter. Oxo Biodegradable bottles have materials added into the plastic that greatly speeds the natural degradation of the bottles. Instead of taking decades for the plastic to breakdown, OxoBio bottles breakdown in just a few years, or even months depending on the exposure, etc. We still feel like maybe there's more we can do to limit the environmental impact of our product, but that using these bottles was a great first step. Even the cap is OxoBio!
Can we expect to see Zoom Water in our favorite grocery or convenience stores soon (when are we gonna see it on the shelves here in Kansas)?
The beverage business is a mighty competitive one, and we're JUST getting started. It will take some time for Zoom Water to filter its way into stores across the country. We're working hard to make as many contacts as we can with retailers and distributors, and we'll expand out as fast as the marketplace lets us. In the meantime, we've also worked hard to be sure Zoom Water is available online. Amazon.com has added us to their grocery section for shipping to all 50 states, and we're available via ThirstMonger.com which has great flat rate shipping per case to the lower 48 states. We're actively seeking a distribution outlet in Canada as well. For now you can order Zoom Water direct to your door, while we're working to grow the business.
What's your favorite way to enjoy Zoom Water?
Personally, I like it straight out of the bottle at room temperature. I can chug the whole bottle pretty quickly that way! Ice cold water has never been my thing. A favorite around the office, though, is Jello cubes made with Zoom Water. We always have dessert handy, and get a caffeine kick to go with it.
How long did it take you before you were able to spell "Caffeine" without a spell check (I still can't do it!)?
Despite a lifelong friendship with caffeine, sometimes I still spell it wrong!
I am not a water snob. I do filter my drinking water, and I'm not so dumb to not understand that a lot of the bottled water out there is simply city tap stuff taken thru reverse osmosis. Likewise, I had never had caffeinated water before trying Zoom Water, so I'm disqualified as a connoisseur of the stuff as well. So though I'm not an authority, I can tell you this: Zoom Water tastes like water. Pure, clean, thirst quenching water with none of the aftertaste or bitterness you'd expect from a juiced-up beverage. Case in point: If Zoom Water didn't taste like water, you'd probably not wanna cook with it. You hear pizza snobs talk about how the choice of water can make all the difference in the dough. So I thought, "Eh what the hell; I'll make a pizza." The pizza was great; and it was caffeinated! Caffeinated pizza! Why has no one done this before? I'll tell ya why- It's because there was no Zoom Water to bake it with.
Personally, there have been times where I've wanted "just water" but found myself drinking tea (albeit really kick-ass tea) or soda to fill the void because a good caffeine buzz was just as important as hydration. So, I think that Zoom Water has the potential to fill a niche in a very competitive market; as this is a product that stays true to the idea that something that labels itself as "water" had sure better taste that way. So yeah; to sum up, Zoom water tastes exactly like water. Don't believe me? Then you'd better try for yourself.
And in case you missed it: In the spirit of full disclosure, Zoom Water isn't paying me to say anything here, but I did get three bottles gratis to try for myself and report back to you, gentle reader. Point is, I try to be honest in my product reviews, but at the end of the day, my opinions are my own.