Director of Almighty, Ben Lenart, has a background in hospitality having owned various cafes in Wellington before founding Almighty and settling in Auckland. From 10-11am, Tuesday 27th October - we'll be serving free tastings of Almighty beverages, so we sat down with Ben to find out more about the Almighty story and why his beverages taste so darn delicious!
What is your day job?
I'm the founder and a director of Almighty, so I'm wrapped up in everything to do with the running a drinks business.
What is your connection to Vic Books?
Vic Books supported us by stocking our juices really early on. And when we added Sparkling Waters they took those too.
You have a hospitality background, I know you've owned at least a couple of cafes - Milk Crate most famously. Is coming from hospitality an important part of developing a drinks business?
It was for me for sure. The cafe spaces I had were really tight which meant you only wanted to stock what you really believed in. There didn't seem to be many options really and all the juices and drinks that were offered were really sweet. They were supposed to be healthy but they were packed full of sugar. Our team also mostly have a hospitality background and it is super helpful for us as suppliers to understand what really matters to people in this industry.
Why the name Almighty?
We wanted a name that encapsulated the goodness and power of the organic fruit, veggies and super foods that we were juicing. Mighty was quite good and then Almighty seemed to be on another level and it just stuck.
Almighty juices are Certified BioGro Organic - why is that important to you?
When we founded Almighty there were a few core values that were really important to implement beyond just trading commercially like health and quality! The integrity of the earth you pluck your produce from really makes a difference to the end product - the taste and the health giving benefits for those who drink it.
Tell us about 'Edible Education' - why is that important to you?
Money from every drink we sell (and have ever sold) contributes to educating kids in gardening and cooking fresh produce. So far over 3000 kids have learned the power of growing and cooking fresh produce in New Zealand through contributions from Almighty drinks sales.
Not all bottled juice is good. In fact most bottled orange juices taste so completely different from the squeeze of an actual orange, your juices are really delicious and fresh tasting. What's the difference?
It really comes down to sourcing quality ingredients. We make a point of sourcing the best certified organic ingredients we can get. Its just the same as cooking - if the ingredients are great, you don't have to do much but let them shine. If the ingredients are sub-par it is very hard to make something taste good without adding a whole lot of shit.
This year you launched a range of Sparkling Waters, tell us about that.
We love juice but we also wanted to create a drink that we could drink lots of and not feel guilty about. Juice is a bit of a treat. Our Sparkling Waters we can drink all day long. They are naturally flavoured, have no sugar, are low in calories and have gone through a charcoal filtration process to ensure they are as clean as possible. They are delicious and are the perfect complement to a light lunch or an alternative if you're not drinking.
Tom Offenberger, who has worked for you for a long time, is going to be at Vic Books from 10am, Tuesday 27 October, with free tastings of Almighty, which of your products will you be showcasing?
Organic Juice and Sparkling Waters - I think you'll get it all and even before the Wellington Food Show crowds!
Which books do you recommend to friends?
I'm a Murakami fan so anything by him is a recommendation from me. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is also a treat - 100 Years of Solitude is a beautiful read. And very different from those is 'Ready Fire Aim' the Mainfreight story is a cracker of a read about one amazing New Zealand business.
What are you reading at the moment?
Killing Commendatore - Haruki Murakami
What do you like about it?
The ability of Murakami to oscillate between a nominal, simple reality and a surreal, dream like reality makes for a beautiful piece of writing that can be a bit confronting but is always a joy to read.
Which literary character do you most identify with?
My partner always calls me the tortoise from The Tortoise & The Hare. Is that even literary?
Hardback or paperback?
Long Black in a ceramic cup please