LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
Monday, September 24, 2018
Alexandros Sophocleous, Founder and CEO of SAFFOS
LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
Alexandros Sophocleous set out to create a delicious and different rooibos tea, with a lower sugar content. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices you can find, but it is the ingredient that Alex decided to use. SAFFOS has three different flavors of saffron infused rooibos tea, both in original saffron taste and ginger and mint flavored. I talked to Alexandros Sophocleous, Founder and CEO of SAFFOS, about the story and the features of saffron infused rooibos tea.
Alex, before we start talking about SAFFOS, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Alex Sophocleous?
I was born in Greece, if you couldn’t tell from my last name, and was fortunate enough to have lived/worked in four other countries, with New York being my home for the last four years. All these various cultural experiences have shaped me to become someone that appreciates new tastes, celebrates diversity, and continues to seek out new adventures whether that is through travel or my professional ambitions.
How did you first became interested in gourmet tastes? What inspired you?
I’d say my interests are more in health and wellness, than gourmet. I’ve always been an active person, but I started to become aware of what goes into my body when my sister was diagnosed with diabetes. I took a big step back and started to look at the sugar content of everything I was eating and more importantly drinking. In the tea category especially, I noticed that a lot of brands had more sugar than sodas. I wanted to change this and the bold taste of saffron gave us the opportunity to introduce a flavorful tea without high amounts of sugar.
Could you tell us about SAFFOS Saffron Infused Rooibos Tea?
Of course, first and foremost, what makes SAFFOS unique is that it is the first bottled beverage infused with saffron. The saffron introduces a bold flavor and several health benefits, but another aspect of SAFFOS that I touched on earlier is our low sugar and calorie content. The Original flavor only has 4 grams of sugar and 15 calories in the entire bottle (13.5oz) while the Ginger and Mint have 6 and 7 grams of sugars respectively.
Why did you prefer saffron as the main ingredient to use when creating these tastes? Why is it special?
I was formally introduced to saffron through a family friend who was very knowledgeable about the spice. Until that day, I only knew saffron as a cooking spice, but saffron is so much more. For example, a recently published study found that saffron improved cognitive function in participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (reference 1).
This is amazing, it shows that saffron is a true super spice, but people generally only have the opportunity to consume it in foods that take hours to prepare.
So in order to allow more people the opportunity to enjoy the health benefits of saffron, I wanted to include the spice in common consumable products and tea ended up being the winner. We have other products in mind for the future, but right now we’re spreading the benefits of saffron through tea.
Saffron is a rare and expensive spice, and it is only harvested in specific geographies. Where is your main ingredient Saffron comes from?
Saffron is indeed an expensive spice, with one pound costing as much as $2000, making saffron as expensive as gold and giving it the nickname “red gold” in some countries. The reason saffron is so expensive is that it is the only spice still harvested the same as it was in 2500 BC. Saffron threads must be picked from the Crocus Flower and this process is so delicate that it can only be done by hand. It’s a tradition passed down through generations and the harvesting ritual is amazing to witness.
We’re still considering several options for sourcing our saffron, but the majority at the moment is coming from a region with a long saffron history, Persia, especially Afghanistan. However, given the economic potential of growing saffron, we are in the process of establishing a charity foundation to directly support the farmers. It’s our ambition to make a lasting impact and support these communities, but we’re just at the beginning of this journey.
SAFFOS Multi Flavor
How many different kinds of flavors do you offer?
We currently have three flavors which all have Rooibos Tea as the base and are infused with saffron. Our Original Flavor has a bold saffron taste with around sixty threads of saffron in each bottle. Then for those who aren’t as familiar with saffron, we have one flavor with a hint of Ginger and another with a splash of Mint. Both of these flavors are a bit sweeter while still only containing 30 calories.
SAFFOS Multi Flavor
What are the health benefits of SAFFOS? How does it make our health better than before?
One of the key benefits of SAFFOS is the fact that our teas are formulated specifically with health in mind. We ensure that all of our teas are low in both sugar content and calories. In addition to this, saffron has been shown to provide three primary health benefits:
- Antioxidant Boost - Saffron contains 20x more antioxidants per gram than regular teas. Each SAFFOS Tea bottle has 60% of your daily recommended Vitamin C.
- Mental Focus - Saffron contains a chemical known as crocin, which has been demonstrated to aid in cognition and memory recovery.
- Healthier Appetite - Saffron induces the same dopamine levels in the brain that you’d feel if you ate a bowl of ice cream, only without the calories.
Should we wait for new tastes?
Yes, we’re just getting started!
What is the importance of social media for SAFFOS? How can our readers follow SAFFOS?
I launched the company in June and focused on gaining points of distribution before investing in marketing. We’re at a comfortable store presence now and have outlined an interesting social media approach with Instagram. Since saffron has such a rich history dating back to 2500 BC, we want to introduce people to this journey, everything from Alexander The Great discovering the health benefits of saffron and using it to heal battle wounds, to the Saffron Wars in the 14th century. To experience this journey, please follow on Instagram @saffos.tea
How can our readers buy SAFFOS Tea?
We only have a presence in New York right now and these locations can be found on our website, SAFFOS TEA. Purchases can also be made through Amazon and our website and delivered anywhere in the continental US.
What is next for you?
I’m enjoying the SAFFOS journey right now. We’re expanding our distribution every day and always looking for new customers interested in carrying a quality tea with a bold taste, low sugar, and health benefits such as ours.
Reference 1: 4Akhondzadeh S1, Sabet MS, Harirchian MH, Togha M, Cheraghmakani H, Razeghi S, Hejazi SSh, Yousefi MH, Alimardani R, Jamshidi A, Zare F, Moradi A. Saffron in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a 16-week, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2010 Oct;35(5):581-8.
Thank you Alexandros for your time and this enjoyable interview.