Ginjan People

Ginjan x WeWork

We’ve become big fans of working with WeWork.  Let’s quickly consider what that looks like.  In case you didn’t know, WeWork is a shared office concept that has hundreds of buildings worldwide, each with roughly 400-800 members.  What’s remarkable (and perhaps up for debate) is that these are possibly the most ideal demographic to sell to.  They’re those young, upwardly mobile millennial ‘techies’.  What’s perhaps more remarkable, is how easy the relevant WeWork community teams make it to connect with them.  Quite simply, every single time we connected with community leads at each respective building, we were met astoundingly friendly, courteous and helpful folks who made the process of setting up a demo hour and marketing it a cinch.

This is one of the most under explored marketing tools out there.  Take note.

We offered members a taste of Ginjan and at WeWork State Street in Chicago we hosted a happy hour with Hendrick’s Gin, serving up the African Spy cocktail.

 

Ginjan x Detroit

Much has been said about the ‘destruction’ of Detroit – a dilution of the local economy – the resulting housing crises and the hollowing out of entire neighborhoods.  Sure, that’s an open secret and no less depressing.  It’s an in your face reality and it’s hard to escape.  But, as we’ve seen with a number of “flyer-over” cities and midwest urban areas, a lot of creativity seems to seep through the cracks – ableit slowly – but with a keen eye on creating some new development.  As with cities like Louisville, Nashville, Pittsburg and Detroit, locals have decided to stay and imports to make a new home, opening up retail spots with a flavor torn out of the Brooklyn playbook.  Make no mistake, in Detroit we’ve driven on roads and seen entire neighborhoods abandoned, hollowed shells of buildings and empty streets, but you can also see the possibility, and it’s inspiringly seductive.

Michigan Avenue – Corktown

 

Michigan Avenue – Corktown

 

Abandoned Building – Corktown

 

Michigan Avenue toward Downtown

Just a few streets away from an entire abandoned ‘superblock’, a coffee shop grows like a tree, full of hope and well, some great coffee, cheer and a dedicated weekend morning ‘shredding playlist’.

 

Astro Cafe

 

Astro Cafe – African Chocolates!

Check out Astro Coffee Detroit on Michigan Avenue and how they’re creating a haven for coffee culture.  Next Door, Sugar House, serves up some mean drinks with a smooth set of culturati chatting the night away. Down the road, we grabbed dinner and shred some Nebbiolo at Ottava Via – be sure to stop in and sit at the bar.  The pizzas are worth a mention and so is the female bartender. (we didn’t take names)

 

Downtown Broadway

 

The Belt Alley Entrance

 

The Belt Alley

 

The Belt Alley

In Downtown, we enjoyed a few drinks along “The Belt Alley” at Stand By, again, refreshingly exposed to a new creative set of people.  Down Woodward Avenue a new retail and workspace strip has taken hold.  We stopped by WeWork Campus Martius for one of our on-going WeWork Tastings Hours – this time with Tito’s Vodka and got to meet with some of the local creatives starting professional fires in the city.

 

WeWork Campus Martius

 

WeWork Campus Martius

 

We can say that the overall impression of a fluid Detroit has been an inspirational one. Sure, the progress is mercurial and sporadic, but the quality of the execution betrays an understanding of the new millennial – and may we dare to say ‘hipster’ – aesthetic, and customer experience expectations.  Yet, everywhere, you’d be amiss not to acknowledge the cranes, shop fitting and renovations going on. Flame on, Motor City, flame on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ginjan Becomes The Gourmet’s Choice at the James Beard Awards Gala 2018

Yes, we’re going to Chicago.

On May 7th, Ginjan will showcase at the annual James Beard Awards at the Lyric Opera Chicago – “the Oscars of the food world” (Time Magazine) – and will be the first African beverage to do so.  We’ve always been “in the closet foodies” but we’re slowly emerging to immerse ourselves in the fascinating world of American Epicurean culture and the James Beard Awards is an apt opportunity to do this.  We’re bringing some African flavor to the awards this year with our booth installation (wait for the surprise).  This year, we’re teaming up with Hendrick’s Gin to make a few cocktails alongside the Ginjan we’ll be serving the over 1000 guests at the awards.

A Food World Legend

Anointed the “Dean of American cookery” by the New York Times in 1954, James Beard laid the groundwork for the food revolution that has put America at the forefront of global gastronomy. He was a pioneer foodie, host of the first food program on the fledgling medium of television in 1946, the first to suspect that classic American culinary traditions might cohere into a national cuisine, and an early champion of local products and markets. Beard nurtured a generation of American chefs and cookbook authors who have changed the way we eat.

James Andrew Beard was born on May 5, 1903 in Portland, Oregon, to Elizabeth and John Beard. His mother, an independent English woman passionate about food, ran a boarding house. His father worked at Portland’s Customs House. The family spent summers at the beach at Gearhart, Oregon, fishing, gathering shellfish and wild berries, and cooking meals with whatever was caught.

He studied briefly at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1923, but was expelled. Reed claimed it was due to poor scholastic performance, but Beard maintained it was due to his homosexuality. Beard then went on the road with a theatrical troupe. He lived abroad for several years studying voice and theater, but returned to the United States for good in 1927. Although he kept trying to break into the theater and movies, by 1935 he needed to supplement what was a very non-lucrative career and began a catering business. With the opening of a small food shop called Hors d’Oeuvre, Inc., in 1937, Beard finally realized that his future lay in the world of food and cooking.

In 1955, Beard established the James Beard Cooking School. He continued to teach cooking to men and women for the next 30 years, both at his own schools (in New York City and Seaside, Oregon), and around the country at women’s clubs, other cooking schools, and civic groups. He was a tireless traveler, bringing his message of good food, honestly prepared with fresh, wholesome, American ingredients, to a country just becoming aware of its own culinary heritage. Beard also continued to write cookbooks, most of which became classics and many of which are still in print.

but, we’re also sharing the Ginjan love with Detroit and Philadelphia

We thought we’d make a road trip out of it and we’re stopping by at WeWork locations along the way.  Basically, we’ll be doing tastings at 7 weworks in Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia – sharing the ginjan love along the way.

 

WeWork Detroit

 

WeWork Chicago

 

WeWork Philadelphia

 

As we continue to try and increase our online sales, we felt that doing roadtrips like these helps us expose non NYC people to the magic of Ginjan.  We’ll be shooting a video of of the entire trip and will be sharing stories on instagram along the way!

Motherland Anywhere

I spent the weekend discussing some new information on my wife’s ancestry. Last year we both sent in a vial of saliva to the leading DNA research company 23andMe. We chose 23andMe for a variety of reasons, mostly because their database is the largest available and because they allow integration with many different specialist DNA research companies such as DNAFit and Athletigen, both of whom offer to take your 23andMe personal DNA report and analyze it to help customers “understand how their DNA affects their response to exercise and nutrition changes, to change the way we train and eat.”

My own DNA report really wasn’t much of a surprise: I’m 97% European. Breaking that down further, my ancestry is 51.4% British/Irish and 32.9% Broadly Northwestern European. No surprises there. In fact the only surprise, which has been a constant source of fun ever since, is that I have more Neanderthal gene variants than 95% of other 23andMe customers.

However, 23andMe’s ancestry report was frustratingly vague when it came to my wife, who is African-American. While it was quite definitive that she has 100% fewer Neanderthal gene variants than other 23andMe customers (not surprising – Neanderthals weren’t in Africa), so far as her African ancestry is concerned all that she discovered was that she’s 83% West African.

23andMe Ancestry composition report

 

A first cousin had spent some time researching family history and traced at least one ancestor back to Senegal; later research led to Ghana, but her search for something definitive as to her roots was still pending. As an aside, my father in law’s 23andMe report generated much excitement as he was found to have an ancient Y chromosome that’s supposedly 340,000 years old (see this story about another African American man with this Y chromosome).

Luckily, however, the DNA analysis business is vibrant and several new players have emerged, including DNA Land, a non-profit run by academics affiliated with Columbia University and the NY Genome Center. My wife shared her 23andMe data with DNA Land and eagerly awaited the new report. She received it over the weekend; it contained much more detail and quite a few surprises (yes, she’s part pygmy). The report agreed with 23andMe that she is genetically 83% African, but DNA Land only associates her with West Africa 70% (East Africa 9.2%, Aka 3.7%).  The biggest surprise was that her DNA suggests most of her ancestors lived in what is now modern-day Nigeria (Lower Niger Valley). You can see the chart below.

 

DNA Land Ancestry composition report

 

The discussion flowed over from the weekend into Ginjan Bros weekly staff meeting where we started discussing the origins of Ginjan. Mohammed and Rahim Diallo, the company founders (the brothers in Ginjan Bros.) grew up in Guinea where ginger was a staple in their diet, often in the form of the traditional ginger juice common in Guinea, locally known as “Ginjan” (spelling varies – Ginjan is our proprietary version). Ginger drinks weren’t (and still aren’t) something you’d go to the shops to purchase; rather they were made at home and in restaurants with each family hewing to a traditional formulation handed down as part of an oral tradition over many generations. Because of this, the taste of ginger juice varies widely from village to village and house to house. So far as Mohammed and Rahim were concerned, though, their mom’s juice was by far the best and it’s her formula that formed the basis of our company’s flagship product today, GINJAN.

While Guineans may think that ginger juice is original to their country, in actual fact there are many variations throughout West Africa, where ginger root is widely cultivated and is a dominant spice in local cuisine. Ginger juice can be found throughout villages and cities in creatively recycled vegetable-oil bottles. It’s often called ginger beer, but it’s non-alcoholic.

West African ginger is extra strong, so some formulations will have your eyes watering, while others go very heavy on the sugar. Ultimately it’s a matter of taste and that varies from country to country, village to village, and in all honesty person to person. One thing we’ve found, though, is that Ginjan Bros. GINJAN is consistently popular with people from countries with a strong tradition of ginger consumption (Africa, Asia, the Caribbean) as well as those from countries where ginger is imported (Europe, North America).

Ginjan and Sugar – Some Insights

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of watching an expert at work. Victoria Hewitt has conducted dozens of Ginjan tastings at supermarkets and grocery stores all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, covering lots of different neighborhoods and spanning the incredibly diverse population of New York City.

 

The Ginjan demo station

Victoria Hewitt preparing to sell out a store’s supply of Ginjan.

 

“Hi Honey, would you like to try Ginjan? It’s an amazing African ginger and pineapple drink,” she’ll say as busy shoppers stream through the stores. Her smile is arresting and many of them stop and taste Ginjan, either cold or, in these frigid months, hot from a Thermos flask that Victoria brings along. Her record is remarkable: by the time she leaves nearly every store has empty slots in the cold-pressed beverages refrigerated shelving area where Ginjan had been stocked.

 

People ask us about the sugar in Ginjan

 

There are usually some questions about the drink that Victoria handles with ease, but one recurring theme relates to sugar content. It’s no secret that sugar is the new fat, demonized by doctors and media alike. It’s also not a secret that Ginjan’s proprietary formula of all-organic, non-GMO ingredients includes cane sugar and, of course, naturally occurring sugars from pineapples. How can Ginjan Bros. claim that their flagship product, Ginjan, is healthy given the sugar content, you might ask. It’s something we’ve thought a lot about and the short answer is, it’s complicated!

The first thing to note is that if you are on an uncompromising, absolutely zero sugar diet, then Ginjan isn’t something you’re going to want to consume at this time. If, on the other hand, you’re just careful to limit the amount of sugar or carbohydrates in your diet, or you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, we have potentially good news based on some recent studies on the myriad beneficial properties of our lead ingredient, ginger.

diabetes.co.uk reports that:

Researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia, found that extracts from Buderim Ginger (Australian grown ginger) rich in gingerols – the major active component of ginger rhizome – can increase uptake of glucose into muscle cells without using insulin, and may therefore assist in the management of high blood sugar levels.

 

And as reported in TIME Magazine, a review published in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,

examined the findings of 60 studies, performed on cell cultures, lab animals and humans. Overall, these studies “have built a consensus that ginger and its major constituents exert beneficial effects against obesity, diabetes, [cardiovascular diseases] and related disorders.

In fact, ginger is an incredible overall health aid; GreenMedInfo.com reports that

there are over 2100 published studies on the medicinal properties of ginger in the scientific literature, and the Greenmedinfo.com database contains evidence that it has value in over 170 different health conditions, and has over 50 different beneficial physiological effects. Notably, of all the conditions the research on ginger we have indexed reveals its therapeutic value for, type 2 diabetes is top on the list, with seven studies on our database providing proof of its efficacy.

We’re not medical professionals, so these articles are referenced as a starting point for you to discuss with your doctor. Having said that, it’s beyond dispute that ginger offers multiple health benefits, blood sugar management potentially being one of them.

One last thought: new research reported by The Guardian suggests that:

Artificial sweeteners, which many people with weight issues use as a substitute for sugar, may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research… ‘This study supports the concept that artificial sweeteners could reduce the body’s control of blood sugar levels and highlights the potential for exaggerated post-meal glucose levels in high habitual NAS [non-caloric artificial sweeteners] users, which could predispose them to develop type 2 diabetes,’ said the authors.

Ginjan Bros. believes in all organic, non-GMO natural ingredients, fully disclosed. We’ll keep bringing you more information about the properties of Ginjan in the coming months. Here’s to your health!

 

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your doctor before relying on any of the information above.