We caught up with Tristan, a Senior Beverage Technologist in the UK who served up some flavour about life at Treatt; dishing which parts of the job tickle his taste buds and the skills required to get started in the world of beverage technology.
What does a Beverage Technologist do?
I design and develop alcoholic and soft drinks for the global beverage market. I predominantly work with our health and wellness product portfolio, focusing on sugar reduction, calorie reduction, sweetness improvement as well as the growing demand for low and no alcohol beverages.
Trial and error is a big part of my role. Most briefs require the percentage of sugar present to be reduced as the objective - whether that beverage recipe has been formulated in-house or shared by customers. By disassembling the recipe to understand the formulation, we can re-formulate using our product portfolio to deliver authentic sugar like flavour and fullness that can mimic the full sugar experience the consumer has become accustomed to. When re-formulating, it is important to take the entire beverage components into account, as the acid levels and flavour dosages often need amending to achieve the correct balance in the beverage.
Our 100% natural ingredients are made using proprietary distillation techniques, meaning they impart a fresh and natural sweetness without adding any calories, or sugar. In addition to adding that all important perception of sugar – they significantly increase the mouthfeel of beverages and can improve the sweetness profile when formulating with high intensity sweeteners, both artificial and natural.
In addition to my formulation work, we also run sensory panels to blind test beverages, gathering data to validate that our re-formulation delivers the same full sugar experience without comprising on taste.
How did you get started as a Beverage Technologist?
With a passion for food, I originally wanted to be a chef, starting out in small local fine dining establishments in both back and front of house roles. My interests in maths and science at school naturally led to me studying BSc Food Science at Reading University. During a year-long work placement at a multi-national food, beverage and ingredient company, I experienced time in many departments with different product categories which all tapped into the knowledge and expertise of Flavourists to develop the right flavour profile for their product.
Upon completion of my studies, I landed a Bakery Scientist role at a food research centre developing and understanding the textural and rheological properties of ingredients. My interest in sugar reduction stemmed from working on a project involving baby food – how different starches delivered different flavour and sweetness intensities, impacting the final profile of the product.
Around 70% of flavours are used in the beverage industry, so I took the next step and became an Applications Technologist at a ingredients manufacturer to broaden my skill set across different applications. Beverage development was at the forefront of my work and sugar reduction was high on the agenda due to consumer demands and taxation on sugared beverages.
To scale my knowledge and expertise, all roads led to Treatt. Expertise in citrus and the growth of Treatt’s Sugar Treattarome® and TreattSweet™ products were a big draw to the company and now I get to be a part of developing a portfolio which delivers impressive results for our customers.
What projects have you been working on lately?
Quality is at the heart of everything we do. Achieving the highest set of standards is fundamental to our service delivery as customers choose our products because they are proven and trusted. I am currently working on conducting stability data to ensure our products perform effectively in the beverage or application over time. This involves analysis of the raw materials and shelf life over time vs shelf life in application. The robust data we gather provides assurance for our customers, adding to their confidence in what we bring to the table.
What’s the best part of the job?
I get to make beverages taste great. Working alongside our customers, we develop delicious liquids that entices consumers to keep coming back for more.
Governments around the world continue to implement policies due to the cause-and-effect implications that a high sugar diet has among society. Not only do I get to focus on making beverages taste great but steer them to be healthier too. It is great to feel like our reformulation work is gradually reducing society’s sugar consumption and help reduce the occurrence of diet-related diseases.
What are the key trends / what will impact beverage innovation in 2023?
Consumers continue to become more aware about what they are drinking, whether that’s monitoring sugar intake or increasing natural ingredients consumption for health benefits. The US and Europe are seeing an increased demand for organic and ‘clean label’ beverages. Brands are having to ensure transparency; delivering interesting ingredients and flavour profiles to entice consumers. Consumers want to enjoy healthy beverages without compromising on flavour and this trend won’t change any time soon.
Any tips on how to get into the beverage industry or become a Beverage Technologist?
Having worked in the full hospitality cycle, it highlighted the all-round experience consumers seek when they walk into a coffee shop, restaurant, or bar.
You gain insight of how and why consumers enjoy that amazing cocktail in varying settings and occasions; this knowledge is then transferred into the lab to produce a RTD cocktail formulation for instance – understanding what the liquid needs to deliver vs the occasion to drink it.
Experience stimulates ideation. Seek out and try interesting drinks, new flavour combinations and exciting experiences. From tasting the latest creation on a cocktail menu to drinking fresh sugar cane juice on the side of the road in India, you never know how these intriguing tastes can contribute to your life – both personally and professionally. I also recommend work experience and internships as a great way of developing your interests and skills which can open a world of opportunities.
What’s your favourite drink and occasion to drink it?
Picante – this spicy little cocktail utilises Tequila, an underused spirt in my opinion. It has zingy freshness from the lime juice, complimented by smooth sweetness from agave and finishes with a kick from chilli. I like to use jalapeno extract to really emphasise the chilli pepper flavour. Great to serve at a party with friends.
Introducing Spotlights: bringing emerging trends to life
We shine a Spotlight on a key consumer trend and illustrate how it is impacting innovation in our industry with a series of exclusive beverage concepts developed by Tristan and the Applications team.
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