In 2016, customers walking into Otherlands Coffee Bar might have spied a cooler of snazzy-looking carbonated beverages across from the checkout counter. Last year, the drink known as Memfizz was a plucky startup trying to carve out its niche in the Memphis market. Now, with a rebranding under its belt and city-wide availability, the product is looking to expand beyond the borders of the 901.
Last night, Benefizz hosted a launch party with its three signature flavors available as mixers at the bar. Each serving of ginger, lemon, and cranberry Benefizz is bottled individually, but its demand around town has grown exponentially since its inception. “It started out as a conversation,” says creator Steve Cantor. “The next day, I woke up and thought ‘We can do something with this.’” He was right; after months of steady growth, Benefizz is now available in 30 stores in Memphis, ranging from local establishments like Otherlands and Miss Cordelia’s, to chain stores like Whole Foods.
When thinking of Memphis-produced drinks, the variety of outstanding craft beer from breweries like Wiseacre and Ghost River come to mind, but there aren’t many non-alcoholic alternatives. Benefizz aims to fill that gap, as well as provide another healthy option to consumers. “When people think of Memphis, they don’t think of health.”
Evan Katz, Benefizz Project Lead at Southern Growth Studio, says the health aspect is a big part of Benefizz’s appeal. “Our main buyers get it for the probiotic aspect. We wanted to emphasize that with the new name.” Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are good for the digestive system, and are found in other products like yogurt. It’s also a safer alternative to antibiotics, which kill some of the good bacteria in the body.
While health benefits are well and good, they can’t sustain the success of a product alone. Drinking Kombucha tea, another popular health product, isn’t always a pleasant experience with its sour, vinegary taste sometimes reiminiscent of cough syrup. Benefizz has it beat in that regard. The light, fizzy drink goes down easily, with each of its flavorful ingredients popping out in every sip. A healthy and tasty drink almost seems too good to be true.
While health trends come and go, don’t count on Benefizz to fizzle out any time soon. The product is already proving to be popular in town, with employees at Joe’s Liquor even clamoring to have a photo taken with a member of the Benefizz team at the store’s display. And, with stores in Nashville already expressing interest in the product, the future looks bright for Benefizz.