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It looks like water, but it’s really sugar-free juice

(Photo: Kimberly Duffy)

Yes, it’s clear, but the bottle you’re looking at isn’t filled with water. It’s Koa Olakino, a juice comprised of fruits and veggies. No, we’re not pulling your leg.

Olakino, which the company says means “the healthiest part of fruit,” is made from fresh-pressed pomegranates, bamboo, mint, lime, amla fruit, annatto, guava, holy basil, red sea lettuce, lemongrass, carrot, and lemons. But… during a centrifugal filtration process it turns clear, explains co-founder Adam Louras—and loses its sugar and calories on the way.

Which is why the company bothers to turn (why-mess-with-nature) produce into the crystal clear beverage in the first place…

“We use a centrifuge—it’s a big spinning cylinder. The heavy particulates stick to the wall and lighter goes down. We take out the sugar and color particulates, which are in the same size range as the sugar. What you end up with is a dark-colored thick version of juice and olakino on the other side. We keep the thin part, which has the soluble nutrition still in,” says Louras.

Despite all the stuff it ditches (yes, fiber included), the process manages to preserve a lot of minerals (74, to be exact, says Louras) and a handful of vitamins, such as iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and loads and loads of Bs. So in this respect it’s like an uber coconut water. “It’s great to drink with meals, it’s not a meal replacement, and before or after workout,” Louras adds.

Koa Olakino
Koa Olakino’s founder, Adam Louras (left) and Wes Wells (right). (Photo: Kimberly Duffy)

Koa is the first brand to create something like this. The inspiration came from a not-so-healthy time in Louras’ life. While going to business school and working full-time as an investment banker, he was living on Red Bull, Naked Juice (which can have 50 grams of sugar), and, well, beer. “I was becoming a diabetic and I needed to change my lifestyle, Koa evolved from that…but I loved the taste and so many people did, too. It broadened the appeal of what it is. It’s not at all only for diabetics,” Louras says.

In fact, it seems to be for the chic, supermarket set. Koa, which sells for about $4.50, is currently stocked at Dean & Deluca locations across the country, at Fairway markets in New York City, and high-end hotels, like the Four Seasons in Dallas (its home base).

What does it taste like? Some of us who sipped it put it on the cucumber-and-mint spa water spectrum (others found it a little too minty). But it also has a weightiness to it, which Wells says comes from the bamboo (a good source of potassium).

Cheers to making room for green juice AND clear juice in your fridge? —Molly Gallagher

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