How often have you stood in a supermarket aisle comparing products and trying to decipher all the “better for you” labels on the market? If you’re like us, probably a lot.
True to their name, “energy drinks” are typically advertised as helping out with an extra boost to get through the day. But are they a good choice for our health? With many brands, not so much.
This Canadian-made, organic beverage is not your average energy drink. GURU is made with plant-based ingredients and no synthetic caffeine, artificial sweeteners or Taurine – meaning no dodgy ingredients and no energy crashes or jitters. Hallelujah.
Luc Martin-Privat is GURU’s VP, Innovation, Research & Development – aka the “brewmaster.” Luc has a doctorate in Pharmacology from the University of Montpellier and an MBA from HEC Montréal, and as an ethnobotanist, he brings scientific expertise and knowledge of plants with functional properties to his master brewing capabilities.
Luc is motivated by exploring traditional plant uses and creating innovative natural and functional products for health-conscious consumers looking for good, clean energy. We spoke with Luc to learn more about the energy drink market and the impetus for GURU – his answers may surprise you!
GURU is really something different in the market! What was the impetus for developing an energy drink like this?
Luc: GURU was born out of the Montreal club scene in 1999, initially launched to provide friends with a clean source of energy to sustain their demanding lifestyles. Over the next 20 years, GURU graduated from the nightlife and became focused on crafting energy drinks to inspire its community to become the best version of themselves. We spend a bit less time partying and more time outside reconnecting with nature.
The company’s mission was already ahead of its time when it was founded as the first natural plant-based energy drink in the world. Today, GURU believes energy shouldn’t come at the expense of health. This is why we are on a mission to clean up the energy drink industry, one can at a time.
A good beverage starts with good ingredients, and this holds true for energy drinks. Our formula results from years of experimentation to find the perfect balance of natural, plant-based ingredients. We know when energy comes directly from earthy, organic sources, it’s got to be good.
All GURU energy drinks are plant-based, high in natural caffeine, free of artificial sweeteners, artificial colours and flavours, and have no preservatives. In addition, all drinks are organic, vegan and gluten-free – and the best thing is their amazing taste.
GURU is the healthy alternative to traditional energy drinks, which are all filled with artificial ingredients and preservatives, which explains why, unlike GURU, these legacy energy drink brands say as little as possible about the ingredients they use.
At GURU, the objective is to create a drinking experience with every GURU sip. Each moment can become an adventure and can be lived to the fullest. That organic energy pushes us to feel real emotions – the ones we share, celebrate, and remember.
The best way to get closer to nature and to connect to your own true nature. We believe good energy isn’t just a function of natural ingredients, it also comes from within. We surround ourselves with good people sharing our common values: passion, authenticity, good energy, and teamwork.
Ultimately for GURU, having organic ingredients is part of our broader objective of transparency and providing consumers with a clean list of ingredients, one of our key differentiators in the energy drink market.
As consumers become increasingly educated about the negative effects of processed, unnatural foods, they’re challenging companies to provide more transparency about what is actually in their food, as well as sustainability for a protected planet earth.
Consumers of traditional energy drinks specifically are increasingly concerned about the ingredients in these products. Market research reveals that over 50% of beverage buyers are looking for a natural alternative. This is even more pronounced in the segment of 19 to 25-year-olds since it is up to 75% of them.
Organic ingredients mean reduced contaminants – they are free from by-products of chemical synthesis, and the production process is considerably cleaner than ingredients synthesized from petrochemicals.
They are also free from pesticides. Unlike conventional agriculture, organic farming restricts the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and growth enhancers. To minimize health and environmental risks associated with intensive industrial agriculture, 99% of GURU plant ingredients are sourced from organic farming.
For me, the passion for clean, plant-based, organic products comes from my childhood, it was transferred to me by my parents. My parents are pharmacists, and I grew up surrounded by the world of plants.
Over the years and training as a Doctor in Pharmacology, specializing in the use of plants, I have perfected the art of mixing functional plants that I have applied to different types of products, which I have been applying to support GURU’s mission to clean up the energy drink industry for the past ten years now.
As part of that mission, I am constantly on the lookout for new energy plants and the best ingredients from around the world.
How did you decide on which plant-based ingredients to use? Where are these ingredients sourced?
The ethnobotanist (botany and anthropology) side of me – always exploring a region’s plants and their traditional use by local cultures and peoples – and, more particularly, how humans and nature connect during special drinking rituals.
- Matcha from Japan: the one used in Chadō, the sense-awakening tea ceremony that Samurai and Japanese Buddhist monks practiced as early as the 12th century.
- Yerba Mate from Brazil: In the Amazon jungle near Brazil, the Guarani tribe prepares this infusion in a bombilla. Its consumption takes place during a ritual of sharing where the participants circulate this gourd of a characteristic shape and thus connect with the “power of the jungle”.
- Guayusa from Ecuador: Further west in the Amazon, on the Equator side, the Jivaro tribe consumes the energizing leaves of this plant as part of a morning dream-sharing ritual, the Guayusada. Before sunrise, the community gathers around a fire, and everyone recounts their dreams while consuming this energizing infusion.
Are you experimenting with new GURU energy drink blends at the moment?
Always. As part of GURU’s mission to clean up the energy drink industry, I am constantly on the lookout for new energy plants and the best ingredients from all over the world.
Consumers are seeking specific functionality from their energy drinks, and this is often linked to activities they are doing, whether physical activity, study or work. The trend of high-caffeine content in products targeting fitness and athletic activities (which in the US can vary between 200 mg and 300 mg of caffeine) is not suited to peak-performance athletes, working professionals or students, who are now looking at having “just the right amount” of caffeine based on their activity.
Clean energy products have also grown up and are expanding in ways that allow offering more than just a caffeine boost. The energy products industry is no longer just about energy and is now turning toward additional functional benefits, adding low-calorie natural alternatives and creating cross-functional products to answer the needs of health-conscious consumers.
Ingredients are participating in the evolution, with energy drink consumers losing trust in artificial ingredients in mainstream energy drinks and now favouring healthy alternatives and looking for more familiar options they can trust.
The demand for plant-based and organic is growing; organic caffeine provides the consumer market with its long-lasting and “no jitters” energy boost, where green tea, matcha, yerba maté, guayusa are the most in-demand natural sources of caffeine in energy drinks. Adaptogens like ginseng or echinacea are also on the rise, promoted by the pandemic.
This increased scrutiny on labels and artificial ingredients drives food and ingredient suppliers to reformulate and develop new, “cleaner” solutions as the demand landscape evolves. GURU has been committed to clean labelling since its founding.
Is there a sustainability aspect to the brand?
Absolutely. GURU manufactures certified organic energy drinks using organic and natural raw materials, recyclable or post-consumer recycled packaging and processing/manufacturing techniques that are clean and respectful of human health and the environment.
With 99% of plant-based certified organic ingredients, GURU promotes responsible sourcing and organic agriculture and biodiversity and restricts the use of chemicals, such as pesticides and harmful chemical processing.
GURU products are certified by ECOCERT according to the international Organic standards, which define and supervise ingredient sourcing, packaging, and manufacturing processes. Along with SQF Food Safety Code for Manufacturing, Quality standards, the ECOCERT voluntary organic certification underlines our commitment to creating products that are safe both for humans and the planet.
The ECOCERT/ Organic certification requires a certified producer to have an environmental policy which addresses the whole manufacturing process and all the residual products and waste resulting from this.
Striving to be among the pioneers of the sustainable energy drink business, GURU recognizes that sustainability is a mindset. Therefore, the Company continuously rethinks and restructures its sourcing, production, packaging, warehousing, delivery and other practices, always with its mission of cleaning up the industry in mind and its commitment to Good Energy.
Explore GURU's full line up of products at guruenergy.com.