While working on the tonic project, I researched the product for many many months before finally heading to Uganda to meet the potential importer. Although I had a number of really positive experiences, the first lunch I sat down to with the importer, he mentioned that the tree I needed would not grow at the altitude I was anticipating. Covid regulations meant there was no way of accessing his site in the medium term future and the project was basically dead on its feet. In this instance the price of a flight paled in comparison to the many months spent researching other elements of the product and production process. The obvious learning was that if the product focus is the farmers, that's where I need to start.
So at the beginning of December I embarked on the 23 hour journey to Asuncion, Parguay followed by the 6 hour drive to the cooperative from which I'm sourcing my ingredients. Again, the learning curve was steep and intense. This process changed operational strategy for the next year significantly and altered my understanding of the drink. Many things about traditional drinks just aren't written down. They're assumed knowedge; passed down through generations.
I recorded much of my Paraguayan experience as it happened on my Instagram account, head over there to learn more. At some point I'll get round to writing a blog post as well. It's on the list.