Meet the Maker: Soda Press Co.
Meet Cam Romeril, the man behind the delicious Soda Press Co. syrups.
Cam Romeril has always loved good food, so when the advertising and marketing guru couldn’t find a soda syrup that he liked, he decided to create his own. Soda Press Co. was the result and it is for sale in Steven’s stores around the country. We asked him about the evolution of the company.
When did you start Soda Press Co., and why?
I started the company four years ago, playing around in my small kitchen in Wanaka. It was pure frustration - I had a SodaStream, but I couldn’t find any products that I wanted to mix with the water. I was also really into my gin and tonics, but didn’t want to drink commercially made tonic water. I wanted to create a product that was more premium, as well as being better for you. And the time felt right to step away from working in advertising and do something for myself.
Have you always been into food and drink?
I’ve always been fussy about my food and where it’s come from. Well before free-range eggs became a standard in restaurants, I was always annoying waiters by asking them about the origins of ingredients and so on. That’s something I’ve always cared about, and so when it came time to create my own products, it’s something I wanted to continue with.
How did the process of creating your syrups evolve?
I ended up getting a food scientist from Christchurch to help me build on the flavours I’d come up with at home, and it just took off from there. When we were first developing our flavours, I did a lot of research into syrups and cordials in the early days. When I looked at the traditional cordial category it was like, ‘what I want to make has absolutely nothing in common with all those artificial colours and flavours, so let’s go back to the drawing board and make a syrup the way people used to’. The more we realised that using premium ingredients made the product taste better, the more we went down the road of being organic, and all our syrups are now certified organic. We also reduced the sugar as much as we could, using natural alternatives such as monk fruit, and each of our syrups now contain less than 5g of sugar per 100g, which falls in line with international safe sugar recommendations (the brainchild of Jamie Oliver).
And how did you decide what flavours to create?
We started with four base flavours: Ginger Ale; Blueberry & Lime; Old-Fashioned Lemonade; and Liquorice & Lemongrass (the ‘unicorn’ in the group). Since then, we’ve added another four flavours, and we’re constantly coming up with new ideas. Everything that we produce has to sound interesting to our customers, and taste interesting. Last year we brought out a blonde cola, which was a world-first, and we’re currently working on another world-first, that will be launched later this year.
What’s your favourite flavour?
It depends what kind of mood I’m in; if I’ve had a few too many drinks the night before then the Ginger Ale is nice and calming, or if I’m looking for something refreshing in the morning then I love the Pink Grapefruit. But my all-round pick is probably the Blonde Cola; it’s such a divine flavour.
How do you recommend people enjoy Soda Press syrups?
Of course they’re delicious with sparkling water as refreshing non-alcoholic drinks, and they make great bases for cocktails. You can pour them over ice-cream as a sauce — the Raspberry & Mint is gorgeous served that way — and people also use the syrups to make everything from jellies to macarons, ice blocks and slushies.
What’s coming next for the company?
We’re right at that transitional point from start-up to scale-up and we’re keen to expand our reach beyond New Zealand and Australia, and so are currently talking to investors. Essentially, the plan is to keep bringing out great flavours, and hopefully have the chance to introduce them to people throughout the world.
What does a typical day involve for you?
I split my time between New Zealand and Australia because we have factories in both Christchurch, where I grew up, and Sydney. I travel throughout both countries meeting with suppliers a fair bit. Typically, I’ll be up at 7am sending out my first emails, then I’ll take a break around 10am for my daily run or gym session. Throughout the day there’ll be plenty of back and forth with my team over emails and phone calls. Usually I’ll finish up around 7.30pm and cooking dinner will be the highlight of my day — I still love food and playing around with flavours.
Away from work, what do you like to do?
I like to get outdoors. When I’m back in Wanaka, I head up the mountains to ski whenever I can, and I’m also a keen sailor so try and fit in a bit of that in Sydney.
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