Kapiti Kitchen is the classic Kiwi artisan story. We're talking lemonade-stand-at-school-fair-turns-into-successful-business kind of tale. Founder Sue Graafland's range was conceived in 2005 when her boy's school in Wellington needed a beverage for a stall and her homemade recipe was right for the job. Made solely from lemons, sugar and water, it was the perfect thirst-quencher.
"It was a moment of madness that started the whole thing really." says Sue "I realised the tangy deliciousness we created at the fair was so much more refreshing than what was available and thought 'I could make a business out of that'."
Getting to market wasn't without its share of drama, including a lorry not being able to get up her driveway to deliver a tall pallet of bottles and the neighbours having to help carry them up by hand. But they made it, and the first batch of lemon cordial was made and sold in 2005.
"I was quite naive I guess, and just approached gourmet stores. Moore Wilson were the first to take two boxes of the Classic Lemon and a week later they wanted more," says Sue. And so it went from there.
They do all their own squeezing, blending, juicing and zesting. Everything is made from New Zealand fruit and there are no additives at all. Products are made in very small batches - literally a dozen at a time.
Kapiti Kitchen has actually been my personal choice of non-alcoholic drink for parties since Sue released the rhubarb and ginger flavour. Both flavours are present in perfect balance and its festive colour makes it gorgeous in a flute with soda water. It's really nice for non-drinkers and pregnant women, who often get seriously short-changed at social events.
All the flavours have a distinct tang, despite their sweet base. Sue tries to keep the sugar content low as she knows a lot of people are looking for a less saccharine non-alcoholic offering.
Having said that, many of the cordials are great with a shot of vodka and sparkling water. I've tried the elderflower with vodka and tonic too and it's a great afternoon tipple.
They are not just cold drinks either. The lemon, manuka honey and ginger with hot water would cheer up even the grumpiest cold-sufferer. The full range also includes lemon and ginger, lemon, lime and bitters, ginger, lime, raspberry, tamarillo and feijoa (the last two are seasonal).
Where to buy:
Nosh; Farro Fresh; Boric Food Market, Kumeu; Flavour Deli, Birkenhead; Harvest Wholefoods; Huckleberry Farms; kai.co.nz; Replete Deli, Taupo; Good Food Trading Co, Tauranga; and Windermere Farms, Wanganui.