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Sommeliers Create a Luxury Bottled Water (Seriously)

Sommeliers Create a Luxury Bottled Water (Seriously)


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Well, this is a first for sure. A team of dining experts, including the world's "foremost water sommelier," Martin Riese, has created a luxury bottled water that rivals all other bottled waters.

According to a release: "Beverly "Hills 9OH2O was designed by world-class sommeliers expressly for fine dining, special events, and exclusive gifting. Pristine spring water from high up in the Northern California Mountains is crafted with natural minerals using a proprietary patent-pending formula. The crafting process results in a 7.5 pH alkalinity, perfectly-balanced minerals, and a silky smooth, incredibly crisp, exceptionally fresh taste profile with overwhelming appeal across the entire consumer spectrum. These extraordinarily unique characteristics make Beverly Hills 9OH2O the first ever water truly suited for pairing with fine foods and wines."

Made by the Beverly Hills Drink Company, 9OH2O is now served at Montage Beverly Hills, Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel, Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Markets, and Bulgari on Rodeo Drive, and will only be available in "top-tier" markets. The water is sold in 10,000 individually numbered glass bottles. Would you buy this luxury bottled water?


'Luxury water' for £80 a bottle? It's ignorant, insensitive and irresponsible

We’ve reached peak bottled water. From today, for a sweet £80, Harrods will sell ‘luxury water’ harvested from icebergs off the coast of Svalbard.

Svalbarði is the brainchild of Jamal Qureshi, a Norwegian-American Wall Street businessman who visited the archipelago in 2013, and returned with melted iceberg water as a gift for his wife. He then, it seems, decided to bring this water to more people.

Astonishingly, the governor of Svalbard has approved Qureshi’s venture. He charters an icebreaker to make two expeditions a year, in the summer and the autumn when icebergs calve away from glaciers that run into the sea. One-tonne pieces of ice are carved from these floating bergs at a time. Using a crane and a net, they are lifted onto the boat and taken to Longyearbyen to be melted down into bottles of “polar iceberg water” which has has “the taste of snow in air”. On each expedition, Qureshi plans to harvest 15 tonnes of ice to produce 13,000 bottles.

The environmental sustainability of the venture is the first concern of many people, Qureshi told the Guardian. “But we’re carbon neutral certified, and we’re supporting renewable energy projects in East Africa and China,” he said. “We also only take icebergs that are already floating in the water and would usually melt in a few weeks, and that can’t be used for hunting [by polar bears].”

Some may argue that if you can afford to drink melted ice caps, who should stop you? Your money, your choice. Depleting 30 tonnes of iceberg a year is, arguably, not that much in the grand scheme of things. But Qureshi’s venture is not the first of its kind. Tibet has already approved licences for dozens of companies to tap Himalayan glaciers for ‘premium’ bottled drinking water. Ten major rivers that flow into South Asia depend on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Disrupting their source could have devastating impacts for water security across the region.

And this is not the only problem. First, sea ice is already melting. The extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to its second lowest record last year and scientists have warned this could have devastating impacts across the rest of the world, such as shifts in snow distribution that warm the ocean and change climate patterns as far as Asia, as well as the collapse of key Arctic fisheries, which could impact other ocean ecosystems. Icebergs don’t need yet more human interference – no matter how small the scale – to speed up the melting process.

Second, the bottled water industry is already giving us enough of a headache. It is estimated that 3l of water are need to produce just one 1l plastic bottle of water, which is more likely to be discarded and end up in landfill than recycled. Beside the fact that our planet is slowly silting up with plastic, it also takes huge amounts of fossil fuels to make water bottles – plastic or glass – and transport them around the world. In the US, for example, 1.5 million barrels of oil are needed per year to meet the demand of the country’s water bottle manufacturing.

But surely the most problematic aspect of this product is the sheer insensitivity of exploiting one of the world’s last wildernesses, and charging such a high price for its product? This, while 663 million people currently live without safe water. Consider the extremes: one person pays £80 to drink water, never before touched by humans and preserved by micron filters and UV light, while another – one of 159 million – depends on surface water, vulnerable to contamination by faeces, parasites, pesticides and more. The emergence of luxury water is just another ugly indicator of our world’s many inequalities.

For so many of the things we buy, there is a flashier, pricier, more luxurious alternative for those who can afford it. Why travel in economy if you could travel first class? Why buy from the high-street when you could buy designer clothing ? Water, it seems, is just the next in a list to receive this divisive treatment why, if you live somewhere it is clean and safe, drink water from a tap when you could drink bottled water from “pristine peaks”, “artesian aquifers” and now “from the top of the world”?

The wheels are in motion. Precedents have been set. Will more wealthy entrepreneurs now eye up other precious natural resources to create yet another “must-have” item?

We already live beyond our means. Our lifestyle choices see us using the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to provide the resources we consume, and absorb what we throw away. At such a time, Svalbarði seems insensitive, ignorant and irresponsible. It’s time to live sustainably and consume responsibly, not promote mindless habits just because some people can afford it.

For some time, water has been thought of as a commodity, and even the former UN special rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation believes it doesn’t have to be free. But something so precious, so essential to all life – human, animal and mineral – should never be marketed as a luxury.

Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. [email protected] on Twitter, and have your say on issues around water in development using #H2Oideas.


Have you thought about what you'll drink when you visit Rome? Wondering w hat the Romans do?

Enjoying an Aperol Spritz while gazing at Roman rooftops - two of the joys of life!

On this page, we'll go over the basics of the different types of things you can drink in Rome, especially if you want to do as the Romans do!

  • What do Romans drink for breakfast?
  • What cocktails do Romans drink?
  • What is an "aperitivo"?
  • What to drink in Rome with dinner?
  • What wines should you order?
  • What beers should you try?
  • What do Romans drink after dinner?
    ??

What to drink in Rome for breakfast?

Italy is pretty famous for their coffee, so naturally you might assume Romans drink coffee at breakfast.

A cappuccino and "cornetto" (Italian version of a croissant) is a typical Italian breakfast at a bar.

At home, most Romans use a moka, and don't own a filtered-coffee maker.

Alessandro, like many of his generation, grew up having a bowl of milk for breakfast with maybe a bit of coffee, and biscotti (sweet dry cookies), to dunk in it.

Today he drinks espresso from the moka, like he grew up with. And he can't drink it for breakfast without a splash of milk.

If you go to a bar (café) for breakfast, you may want to do as the Romans do, and order a caffè (espresso) and cornetto, or a cappuccino and cornetto.

Below are just a few different types of coffee you can drink in Rome. For more about how and what to order, visit my dedicated page about Coffee in Rome.

Of course some Romans don't drink coffee, but rather tea or hot chocolate , or maybe orange juice . In recent years, ginseng or orzo (barley) have also become popular as non-caffeinated hot drinks.

One of my favorite things to get at a bar, especially in winter, is a fresh-squeezed spremuta , orange juice literally made on the spot. You can sometimes get it with Sicilian blood-oranges and it's just delicious.

One of my favorite things to drink in Rome is fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice. I love pomegranate juice and get it fresh-squeezed whenever I can find it at a bar.

For more about what Romans eat for breakfast, visit my page about Italian food customs here.

For more about coffee terms and misnomers, visit my page about Roman food myths here.

What cocktails do Romans drink?

Aperol Spritz? Negroni? Americano? Any of this ring a bell?

A typical drink in Rome is the Aperol spritz and it usually comes with a snack of some sort.

Forget screwdrivers, gin-tonics, and martini shaken, not stirred.

Well, you don't have to forget them, but why not try an aperitivo, Italian style?

What is an "aperitivo"?

When we first started to run our B&B, in the early 2000s, many of our guests would ask where they could go out for a "drink before dinner."

I quickly came to realize that most adult Romans and Italians didn't drink much alcohol at all, except maybe some wine with lunch or dinner, and so it was not that easy to help our guests looking for a cool place to grab a drink.

I would have to send them to a café (called "bars" in Italy although they are more about serving ready-made food and drinks, all day long).

Or I'd send them to a fancy hotel bar where there was a better chance of finding a "barman" who knew how to make the kinds of cocktails foreign visitors to Rome were used to.

What aperitivo USED to mean in Rome

The word aperitivo comes from the Latin aperire, which means "to open" as in, to open your appetite. It's like the French word we sometimes use in English, "aperitif", again, meaning a drink before dinner.

Maybe 30 years ago or so, before the recent trend of "the aperitivo", Romans would drink simple things at a bar, like a plain Aperol, a Campari bitter, or a Crodino. Some of these drinks are non-alcoholic and the others have a bit of alcohol but not much.

It was just meant as a pre-dinner drink, literally. No snacks, no ice, no straws.

Another thing Romans might drink at a bar/cafè, really at any time of day, was (and frankly still is) a glass filled partly with white wine and the rest with water.

Clearly, the aperitivo has evolved.

In recent years, due to rising demand from tourists and Romans alike, bars and wine bars in Rome have vastly improved their offerings.

Now you can't walk a block without finding even the simplest café offering "aperitivo", "wine-tasting", or my favorite, "tasting wine."

Many Romans I know tend to ask for a Prosecco (a kind of sparkling wine) as their aperitivo drink of choice.

Aperol Spritz is another popular drink. It's made with Aperol(a brightly orange-colored bitter apéritif made of gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona) , prosecco, and soda water, and usually comes in a large glass with plenty of ice and a slice of orange.

In Rome, an aperitivo usually comes with at least some nuts or potato chips.

Sometimes, and depending on the bar and also on how much the drinks cost, the "free" snacks that come with the drink can be quite substantial and good quality.

You may also find you can get a drink with minimal snacks for free but with the option to order more food from a snack menu.

At this aperitivo snack bar near the Colosseum, there is so much food you might wind up skipping dinner. In this case, your aperitivo would be more appropriately called "apericena".

Sometimes that "extra food" comes in the form of a buffet.

Which leads us to the "apericena" - a kind of happy hour with enough food that in the end you don't eat dinner, just the happy hour snacks. (The word for dinner in Italian is cena.)

What to drink in Rome with dinner?

Romans typically order bottled water when dining out (They even drink it at home. More on this below.)

And if they order wine, it will depend on the type of restaurant and what they are eating.

Some restaurants offer only "red" and "white" wine, sometimes della casa, meaning, the house brand. And that will come by the glass, ¼ liter, ½ liter or liter.

It's common to order wine by the half liter or liter when dining at a casual trattoria in Rome.

Most Romans I know drink beer with pizza and Asian food.

I used to think, we are in Italy, I'm having wine. But now I have to say I agree with my Roman friends - beer goes better with pizza than wine does.

The one thing I've never seen is an Italian ordering a cocktail WITH dinner. Most Romans don't drink soda (Coke, Pepsi, etc) with dinner either.

Obviously, you should order what you want.

For my favorite enoteche, places that serve a good choice of wines, visit my page here.

What Italian wines should you try?

Wondering what wine to drink in Rome?

Of course you can choose from so many Italian wine regions (Tuscany, Piedmont, Sicily, Umbria, and more) but we also have wonderful wines produced right in this region (Lazio.)

This private wine collection at the luxury hotel Ricci in Rome boasts some of the best Italian wines. Now, which one to try?

There is much more to this topic than I can cover on this page.

The bottom line is that if you want to try local wines, don't be shy about asking the waiter, or better yet, the sommelier, if available for help.

For a good beginners' guide to Italian wine, visit this page by the Wine Enthusiast or this excellent page by the Independent Wine Geek .

For an excellent guide to wines that are native to Rome, from Ancient Rome to today, visit our friends at Rimessa Roscioli.

What beers should you try in Rome?

If you're looking for beer to drink in Rome, you can always count on the well-known Italian beer brands such as Moretti and Peroni.

In the past 10-15 years or so, there has been a huge increase in the interest in craft beers, known in Italian as birre artigianali.

Nowadays it's not uncommon to find a beer list on a restaurant menu, especially if you go to a more modern restaurant like a gourmet pizzeria or hamburger joint.

Craft beer has been on the rise as a typical drink in Rome, and you can find some dedicated beer halls such as Open Baladin.

You may want to check out some craft-beer locations in Rome like Open Baladin in Campo dei Fiori or Birreria Peroni in the Trevi Fountain neighborhood .

What to drink in Rome after dinner?

It's typical after a meal, especially dinner, to drink a digestivo, or digestif.

This is a liqueur that is meant to do what it sounds like - help your tummy digest.

After a meal, Romans may drink a digestif, such as grappa or amaro, both pictured here, and/or espresso, also pictured here.

Eventually I realized I liked amaro better than limoncello. Amaro means literally "bitter." If you've ever had Jägermeister, then you have had a bitter digestif. Amaro comes in different brands and flavors. Some people prefer it over ice and some don't.

I've also come to enjoy grappa. Grappa is traditionally produced in Northern Italy, and is made by distilling the pomace (a blend of grape seeds, stalks, and stems) that are left over when wine is made. Grappa is typically 35 to 60 percent alcohol. It can taste something like grain alcohol, but here again, there are a large variety of grappas.

The main distinction between types of grappa is between barrel-aged (golden color) or steel- or glass-aged (clear).

Another typical after-dinner drink in Rome is Sambuca. It tastes like licorice. You can get it ice cold with tre mosche, meaning 3 flies, which are 3 coffee beans, or you can get caffè con Sambuca.

There is one more thing Romans tend to drink after lunch or dinner - a strong shot of espresso, which in itself acts as a digestif.

Romans never drink cappuccino after a meal, but if you want to, go right ahead!

Water in Rome - bottled water, drinking fountains and tap water

It's funny to even have a topic about water you can drink in Rome. But there are two important things to know about this:

Drinking water out of the fountains in Rome

Did you know you can get clean, free water all over Rome?

If you've seen the small-ish fountains around Rome, with water coming out, you can indeed drink that water. It's fresh, clean, cold, and free!

Some of the nasoni in Rome look like what they are called - a big nose. Other nasoni in Rome might have wolf- or dragon-head nozzles.

Those fountains are called nasoni , which means literally, "big nose."

They come in different shapes and sizes but when you find them (and they are all over Rome, not hard to find), try the water. You'll thank me!

Rome's drinking fountains can be found all over Rome including at the sites. This one on the Palatine Hill offers respite on a hot summer's day. Many of Rome's drinking fountains also have a place for animals to drink. They get thirsty too!

Why so many Romans drink bottled water

Most Romans take their bottled water very seriously and can have a half-hour heated discussion over which bottled water tastes less minerally, and aids your digestion the best.

San Pellegrino is often available but Romans consider this water to be for tourists and almost never order it if they have the more local brands. Romans typically prefer either flat water or mildly effervescent water like Nepi or Egeria.

(One sign of a true Roman trattoria is that they will have Nepi, Egeria, or a similar type of lightly fizzy water. Likewise, a sign that a restaurant caters primarily to tourists and not to locals is when they only offer San Pellegrino as their fizzy water.)

Even with a simple bar lunch, Romans love their Nepi, a local brand of naturally effervescent spring water. We ordered prosecco but we also fizzy water. San Pellegrino was the only kind they had, which indicates a restaurant catering more to tourists than locals. Acqua Panna is a Tuscan brand of water and what you will likely be served if you ask for still water in Rome. Alessandro can't stand it and I have come to agree with him.

And while tap water in Rome is safe to drink, it tends to be heavy on the calcium and other minerals.

Most Romans I know simply abhor the taste of tap water.


Liquid assets: how the business of bottled water went mad

T he dress code of the clientele in Planet Organic, Notting Hill is gym chic. On a hot day in mid-August, the men wore mid-thigh shorts, pectoral-enhancing vests, neon Nikes the women were in black leggings and intricate ensembles of sports bras and cross-strapped Lycra. They had all either just worked out, were about to work out, or wanted to look as if working out was a constant possibility.

They examined the shelves. As well as the usual selection of kale crackers and paleo egg protein boosters, there were promises of wizardry, such as a packet of Alchemy Organic Super Blend Energy Elixir (£40 for 300g of powder). But never mind the food. Life, in 2016, is liquid. Opposite a display of untouched pastries and assorted bread products (who, in Planet Organic in Notting Hill, still eats bread?), were the waters.

There was Life, Volvic, Ugly, Sibberi (birch or maple), Plenish, What A Melon watermelon water, Vita Coco, Coco Pro, Coco Zumi, Chi 100% Pure Coconut Water, Rebel Kitchen Coconut Water and coconut water straight from the nut (“you have to make the hole yourself”, explained a shop assistant). Also: an electrolyte-enhanced water pledging to hydrate you with 40% less fluid than ordinary water (Overly Fitness), a birch water offering “a natural source of anti-oxidising manganese” (Tapped) and an alternative birch water promising to “eliminate cellulite” (Buddha). There was also a “water bar” – a tap in the corner of the shop – that, according to the large sign hanging from the ceiling, offered, for free, the “cleanest drinking water on the planet”, thanks to a four-stage process conducted by a “reverse osmosis deionising water filter”.

Planet Organic’s display was impressive, but only hinted at the full range of waters available to the hydration-conscious consumer. Right now, the global bottled water industry is in one of those strange and energetic boom phases where every week, it seems, a new product finds its way on to the shelves. Not just another bland still or sparkling, but some entirely new definition of the element. It is a case of capitalism at its most hyperactive and brazenly inventive: take a freely available substance, dress it up in countless different costumes and then sell it as something new and capable of transforming body, mind, soul. Water is no longer simply water – it has become a commercial blank slate, a word on to which any possible ingredient or fantastical, life-enhancing promise can be attached.

And it’s working. Over the past two decades, bottled water has become the fastest-growing drinks market in the world. The global market was valued at $157bn in 2013, and is expected to reach $280bn by 2020. Last year, in the UK alone, consumption of water drinks grew by 8.2%, equating to a retail value of more than £2.5bn. Sales of water are 100 times higher than in 1980. Of water: a substance that, in developed countries, can be drunk for free from a tap without fear of contracting cholera. What is going on?

‘Rumours circulated of Madonna bathing in bottled water, and Jack Nicholson was photographed brandishing a bottle of Evian at the Oscars as if it were Cristal.’ Photograph: Larry Washburn/Getty Images/fStop

F or a substance that falls out of the sky and springs from the earth of its own accord, water has always had an extraordinary commercial lure. According to James Salzman, the author of Drinking Water: A History, monks at holy wells produced special water flasks for pilgrims to take away as proof of their visit – a medieval example of the power of branding. For centuries, wealthy Europeans travelled to spa towns to sample the water in a bid to cure specific ailments. The spa visit was a signal of health, but also of status: somewhere to be seen, an association of liquid and individual that broadcasted social elevation – a distant precursor to Kim Kardashian clutching a bottle of Fiji, if you like. In 1740, the first commercial British bottled water was launched in Harrogate. By 1914 Harrogate Spring was, according to its website, the largest exporter of bottled water in the country, “proudly keeping the troops hydrated from England to Bombay”.

In the early 20th century, however, a water revolution nearly killed the nascent business. After early attempts in Germany and Belgium to chlorinate municipal drinking water, a typhoid epidemic in Lincoln in 1905 prompted the public health crusader Alexander Cruickshank Houston to try out the first extended chlorination of a public water supply. His experiment worked, and soon, chlorination of municipal water had spread around the world. In 1908, Jersey City became the first US city to use full-scale water chlorination, and the practice quickly spread across the country.

The bottled water industry almost collapsed as a result. In the past, buying clean water had been a necessity for the rich (the poor simply endured centuries of bad drinking water, and often died from the experience). Now it was freely available to all. Why would you continue to spend money on something that now came, miraculously, out of a tap in your kitchen?

The answer arrived in 1977, in the form of what must be one of history’s greatest pieces of television advertising narration. “Deep below the plains of southern France,” rumbled Orson Welles in a voice that sounded as if it were bubbling up from some unreachable subterranean cave, “in a mysterious process begun millions of years ago, Nature herself adds life to the icy waters of a single spring: Perrier.” As viewers watched the water descend into a glass, and admired the glistening green bottle, marketing history was made. The advert was part of a $5m campaign across America – the largest ever for a bottled water – and proved a major success. From 1975 to 1978, Perrier sales in the US increased from 2.5m bottles to more than 75m bottles.

The Perrier triumph was part of “a perfect confluence”, Salzman told me, of a sudden craze for aerobics in the US, prompted, in part, by Jane Fonda releasing her first exercise video – Jane Fonda’s Workout, the highest-selling video of all time – in 1982. There was a new drive not just to be healthy, but to be seen to be healthy. In 1985, Time magazine noted that “water snobbery has replaced wine snobbery as the latest noon-hour recreation. People order their eau by brand name, as they once did Scotch.”

Soon enough, rumours circulated of Madonna bathing in bottled water, and Jack Nicholson was photographed brandishing a bottle of Evian at the Oscars as if it were Cristal. There was also a key practical innovation: in 1977, plastic or PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles were introduced into the soft drink market. By 1990, they were being used for bottled water, making it as convenient and portable as a fizzy drink. The big soft drink brands, spotting the obvious commercial opportunity, soon launched their own waters: PepsiCo’s Aquafina in 1994, Coca-Cola’s Dasani in 1999, and Nestlé’s Pure Life in 2002. Water was back.

Water’s glorious renaissance wasn’t just about fashion or convenience. Bottled water can be marked up like no other substance on earth. The £1 that a bottle of water often costs could pay for around 1,000 gallons of tap water. Some waters – Evian, Perrier, Highland Spring and Harrogate Spring – come from natural sources, so at least you feel you’re paying for geography, for the fantasy of a shepherd sitting on a rock catching the icy flow in a glass jar specifically for your pleasure. But plenty of bottled waters are simply refashioned tap water.

In February 2004, Coca-Cola attempted to launch Dasani in the UK. (“Dasani”, by the way, means nothing.) Five weeks later, the company took all 500,000 bottles off the shelves after headlines such as the Daily Star’s “Are They Taking Us For Plonkers!” Coca-Cola had followed its successful strategy in the US and purified tap water, added some mineral salts, and was selling it for 95p a bottle. The company hadn’t, however, accounted for Britain’s long memory for sitcom storylines – in this case, the episode of Only Fools and Horses when Del Boy and Rodney bottle tap water in their flat and sell it as Peckham Spring. Then there was the issue of a batch of minerals contaminating Dasani with a possibly carcinogenic bromate. In a little more than a month, Dasani was dead.

Ten years later, Coca-Cola launched a new bottled water in the UK. In the intervening decade, the industry, after a brief dip following the 2008 financial crash, had entered its hyperactive new phase. Vita Coco – one of the first of the “new” waters – came to the UK in 2009, and in its wake soon appeared a flotilla of further coconut waters (the coconut water market is now worth £100m in the UK).

The industry received a further boost this year from the former chancellor George Osborne, who announced a sugar tax on soft drinks in his final budget. As the “plain” bottled water market continued to expand, new inventions began to spring up. “Strong established growth leads to offshoots,” explained Richard Hall, chairman of Zenith International, a market research company that organises the annual and thrillingly named Global Bottled Water Congress. Water had begun its reinvention: enter maple, birch, energy and even ocean.

Coca-Cola’s new water is called Glacéau Smartwater. The water, which comes from a spring in Morpeth, Northumberland, is “vapour distilled”, then injected with electrolytes. In other words, the water is evaporated and then condensed again, a process Coca-Cola describes as being “inspired by the clouds”.

Ten years ago, this, surely, would have got the Peckham Spring treatment from the media. But we live in new times. Glacéau Smartwater is now worth £21.9m, and, earlier this year, Coca-Cola announced an investment of £15m to expand the factory where it is produced. At present, it turns out 56,000 bottles of water per hour.

‘It is no longer enough for water to simply be water: it must have special powers’. Photograph: Larry Washburn/Getty Images/fStop

I f the last decade witnessed water’s great commercial expansion, 2016 could perhaps be defined as the year the market lost its mind. There now seems to be no limit on what a water can be, or what consumers are willing to buy. It is no longer enough for water to simply be water: it must have special powers.

This summer alone saw the launch of Flõ Essence Water, Omega Enhanced Health Water, BiPro Protein Water and Svalbarði polar iceberg water. Other recent additions include blk. water (black water), FATwater (water containing “quality fat”) and deep ocean water harvested from off the coast of Hawaii (which allegedly hydrates you twice as fast as “normal” water). In July, the Evening Standard ran an article that only semi-ironically described water as a “superdrink”.

Powering this proliferation of new brands is a new breed of start-upper: the water entrepreneur. I met one such man – a 27-year-old named Rahi Daneshmand – in Planet Organic on that hot August day, doling out samples of his new product, Virtue Energy Water. Virtue offers, in a 250ml can (£1.35), a sugar-free sparkling water that contains “yerba maté”, ginseng, citric acid, guarana and natural fruit flavours, and offers a “natural” caffeine hit equivalent to a cup of coffee. It comes in two flavours, berries and lemon and lime. The response from the clientele was varied: “More fun than normal water!” said one woman, taking a sip. “It’s not too sweet,” approved another. “I’m trying to avoid sweetness.” Some were a little bemused. “Natural caffeine? What’s that?” asked a younger customer. “Is it for the 3pm slump or after clubbing? What’s it for?”

Virtue is Daneshmand’s big idea. In fact, it’s his second big idea – after Virtue Iced Tea, which did quite well (it’s stocked on Ocado). In his mind, iced tea has now been surpassed by the great hope of his new creation, which he claims is Britain’s first ever naturally sugar-free energy water. Daneshmand is a committed, joyous entrepreneur. After a few childhood years in Iran, he moved back to England with his family, went to Newcastle University, and somewhere along the way picked up the look and accent of an indefatigably cheerful rugby player. He wears polo shirts, lives by mantras – “nothing in life is worth getting stressed about” – and is the kind of hyper-motivated person who reads two business books in a weekend. (In mid-August: Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organisation and Ego is the Enemy.)

Daneshmand says he went into water because he wanted to make something pure. “Water is something that everyone needs and something that everyone drinks,” he explained. “We went with the term water because it has zero sugar.”

This, he pointed out, is not always the case. Many of the so-called “waters” crowding the market are jammed with sugar. Coca-Cola’s Glacéau Vitaminwater (“vitamins. electrolytes. unstoppableness”) used to contain 23g of sugar, until the public outcry forced the company to start swapping sugar for the sweetener stevia. (Then there was a subsequent outcry about the new taste, so it swapped back.)

“People are just trying to put water into everything,” said Daneshmand, shaking his head. His water, from the mains supply, is subject to “ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis” to remove minerals and make it “clean”. Its added ingredients are entirely natural. On this point, Daneshmand is evangelical: “That’s what a water is and what a water should always be.”

One afternoon this summer, I watched Daneshmand pitch his water to Rahil Vora, managing director of the health food chain Revital. Things seemed to be going well. It was a fiercely hot day, which made any cold liquid seem appealing, and there was the happy synchrony that both Virtue and Revital had incorporated a leaf into their logo. Moreover, Vora was buying into the concept. “I like the fact that it’s an energy ‘water’ rather than an energy ‘drink’,” he said. He liked the can, too – more environmentally friendly than a plastic bottle – and the natural ingredients, yerba mate in particular.


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“Water is the new frontier,” says Dr Rita Palandrani, a member of the UK Sommelier Association. Palandrani is one of a small but increasing number of expert tasters who are preoccupied with the quality and flavour of H2O – that hydrating compound which makes up 60pc of the human body.

Y es, there really is such a thing as a water sommelier. In the US, water sommelier Martin Riese has made headlines by dreaming up a 44-page water pairing menu at Ray’s & Stark Bar, a restaurant at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art. And it appears the trend is growing: take a look at water connoisseur website finewaters.com and you quickly learn that there is a blossoming community dedicated to learning about the natural elixir that makes its way from mountains to mouths.

Now, if all this sounds somewhat 'out there' to you, then you're not alone: I confess I did a double take when I started researching the world of water tasting for this article. But as I sit around a big table full of colourless glasses, ready to embark on a test to find the best water filter jugs on the market, the experts assure me that this is serious stuff. "Water has a terroir, like wine, and it can improve the epicurean experience,” says Dr Palandrani, a member of The Fine Water Academy. "The taste is determined by the minerals it contains."

A lex Wallace, head of quality control at Caravan Coffee Roasters, points out that this taste will have an effect on hot drinks too. Wallace, who grew up drinking Scottish water in the Cairngorms, says that the pH level (alkalinity or acidity) of tap water, plus its minerality and the total dissolved solids (TDS) it contains, will alter the flavour of your daily cup of coffee or tea.

Combine this with the drastic variation in tap water quality across the UK (Wallace says he was disgusted by London's limescale when he first moved to the city), and the fact that people are turning away from plastic-bottled mineral water, and you see why water filter jugs are an increasingly popular home solution.

M ost water filter jugs are simply containers with built-in filters (which need to be replaced, depending on frequency of use). Some rely on activated charcoal for purification, while others are high-tech gadgets that come with their own TDS meter.

To find out the best on the market, we asked Dr Palandrani, Wallace, and wine sommelier Andrea Rinaldi (president of the UK Sommelier Association) to test and review a range of filters, focusing on the products' ability to purify hard old London tap water (known for its distinctive chemical tang, apparently).

B efore our tasters started, we analysed the tap water and found it to have a starting alkalinity of eight on the pH scale, and a TDS of 360. Both results are relatively high. A slight aroma and taste of chlorine was discernible.

"The ideal water, at least for coffee, should have a TDS of 80-200, a pH of 6-7 (so mildly acidic or neutral), not too much bicarbonate and no chlorine" says Wallace. "The water we’re starting with is claggy and thick, and leaves a patina on the tongue".

All the better to test with. Here's what we learned when putting this undesirable London tap water through different water filter jugs – starting with the ones that came out top.

Read on for our pick of the best water filter jugs out there, tried and tested.

1. BRITA Style filter jug

Why we like it: Simply the best water filter we tested, as agreed by all our panel

B rita is a brand synonymous with water filtering – and it turns out for good reason. While there are some serious contenders on the market worth checking out (see below for more), our tasters unanimously found this one to be the best.

The standard 2.4L version we tried fits happily in the fridge door. It has a total filtered water capacity of 1.4l, which is big enough for me, but large families might prefer the extra large version (at the time of writing, this is on sale at £15.99 from Amazon).

T o my surprise, there's a definite difference in taste between the questionable London tap water and the water that emerges from the jug. Even I can taste it. “It has more of an all-round finish, a cleaner mouthfeel,” notes Wallace. “The water tastes neutral, rather than sweet or salty,” adds Dr Palandrani.

O ur testing kit confirms that the water has changed, too. Post-filter, it's down to a TDS of 258 (from 360), so it has preserved some minerality while getting rid of the undesirable heavy chalkiness, limescale and chlorine common to London tap water. And – perhaps even more impressively – the water's pH is now a palatable 6.5 (down from 8).

For Palandrani, who prefers her water to be on the acidic end of the scale rather than the alkaline, it's a win. Wallace tells me it's perfect for coffee.

In fact, the Brita Marella is the filter that Wallace uses at home. While he professes his love for it, he notes that the filter cartridge does need replacing every four weeks if using frequently (£28.03 for a pack of six). Handily, it has a cartridge exchange indicator which informs you when you need to do so.

2. ZeroWater 7-cup water filter jug

Why we like it: The best filtration system we tried – perhaps even too good

Z eroWater has some impressive claims to its name. It's the only water filter pitcher certified to reduce chromium 6 (the compound at the heart of the Erin Brockovich story), and spokeswoman Annette Lees tells me it removes microplastics down to three microns in size.

The 1.7L jug we try is designed for UK fridge doors, and offers “the purest drinking water on the market”. Such is its machismo that it promises to remove nearly all total dissolved solids, with an 99.6pc average purification rate. To prove the point, the jug even comes with a lab-grade TDS meter – although we decided to rely on our own meter to take a reading, for the sake of continuity.

Duly, our TDS reading showed that the ZeroWater filtration system reduced the amount of total dissolved solids in the tap water from 360 right down to just 10. It has little effect on the pH, however the pH actually rose from 8 up to 8.1, according to our test.

The ZeroWater works quite slowly, gradually trapping solids in mesh sieves, passing the water through an activated carbon bed and then resin beads which exchange calcium and magnesium ions for sodium.

If total purity and softer-than-soft water is what you’re after, this might be the one. Our panel of experts judged the resulting water to be discernibly further forward in the mouth and slightly salty fresher tasting, slippy and lighter and they praised the lack of film coating left on the mouth. (According to Dr Palandrani, the lighter tasting the water, the better it pairs with lighter foods: salads and white fish, for example.)

H owever, despite the taste and the impressive filtering of pretty much all the dissolved solids in the water, Wallace voiced some reservations. “You need to retain a degree of minerality and at least some solids, for good coffee,” he says.

3. EpicWater filter jug

Why we like it: Long lasting filters make this good value for money


Beverly Hills 9OH2O luxury water put to test

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Musk says he supports crypto in battle with fiat money

Musk has previously compared bitcoin to fiat money and often tweets about cryptocurrencies that have sent values for bitcoin and the meme digital currency dogecoin up and down. In February, bitcoin shot higher after Tesla revealed it had bought $1.5 billion of the cryptocurrency and would soon accept it as a form of payment for cars.

SEC approves Nasdaq proposal to allow IPO alternative to raise funds

In a filing https://bit.ly/3vc3jHV dated May 19, the SEC said Nasdaq's proposed rule change was consistent with the regulator's rules and regulations and could be beneficial to investors as an alternative to a traditional initial public offering. The move is a big breakthrough for the exchange operator that has been pushing for an alternative for companies to raise money. Reuters had reported in August https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nasdaq-direct-listing-exclusive-idUSKBN25L1BC that Nasdaq had filed with the SEC to change its rules to enable companies that debut on the stock market through a direct listing to raise capital.

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Crypto Hedge Funds Buy the Dip in Bitcoin’s Week of Reckoning

(Bloomberg) -- Felix Dian is in fighting spirits after this week’s crypto meltdown.Like many pros, the former Morgan Stanley trader says Bitcoin’s volatility actually shows why hedge funds are in the digital-currency game: To ride boom and bust cycles with diversified bets so clients don’t get killed at times like this.Something is working. His $80 million crypto-focused fund at MVPQ Capital is up 14% in May and has more than tripled in value this year. In contrast, Bitcoin has plunged almost 30% this month, cutting the advance for 2021 to 42%.“We had kept dry powder,” he said in an interview from London. He took advantage of Wednesday’s price collapse and bought Bitcoin when it was trading around $35,000.Crypto-Crash Autopsy Shows Billions Erased in Flash LiquidationsNot everyone’s been so lucky. Scores have seen their fortunes dashed this week in a cascade of selling across crypto markets. Investors spent some $410 billion buying up Bitcoin during this bull market, according to data from Chainalysis. When prices sank to $36,000 this week, $300 billion of those positions were at a loss.It’s left money managers wrestling with whether the digital currency, which is coming under new regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. and China, still has the makings of a serious asset class or will remain nothing more than a speculative bubble.Bitcoin hovered around $40,000 on Friday, trading up 1% as of 7:15 a.m. in New York. The token has lost 35% since hitting an all-time high of $63,000 in April.Charles Erith, who worked for 24 years in Asian emerging markets before jumping to crypto, said the speculative froth was flushed out this week. He bought Bitcoin as prices were plunging.“At $35,000, we felt it’s a reasonable level at which to be adding,” said Erith, who runs ByteTree Asset Management in London. “It’s obviously not regulated and it’s a very young asset, but I don’t think this is going to be a revisit of 2018.”Data from research firm Chainalysis shows professional investors used the crash as an opportunity to start buying at cheap levels, helping put a floor under the market. Big investors bought 34,000 Bitcoin on Tuesday and Wednesday after reducing holdings by as much as 51,000 bitcoin in the last two weeks, according to data from Chainalysis.“People that were borrowing money to invest, they were wiped from the system,” said Kyle Davies, co-founder at Three Arrows Capital in Singapore. His firm bought more Bitcoin and Ether as prices of the tokens tumbled this week.“Every time we see massive liquidation is a chance to buy,” he added. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Bitcoin and Ethereum retrace the entire drop in a week.”Over in Paris, Loan Venkatapen, founder of Blocklabs Capital Management, blames the recent rout on over-leveraged retail investors but says blockchain and the related technologies “are here to stay.”Unlike Davies, Venkatapen avoided Bitcoin, but bought Ether, Solana and other assets connected with the decentralized finance movement as they sold off.“Bitcoin is not dying, but we expect productive blockchain assets such as Ethereum or Solana to challenge Bitcoin dominance in the coming months,” he said.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Nvidia Gains on 4:1 Stock Split Amid Chip Shortage

Investors shun tech, rush for inflation protection - BofA

LONDON (Reuters) -Investors pumped money into inflation protection and dumped some tech stocks, BofA's weekly fund flow data showed on Friday, as U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers hinted at discussing tapering of government bond purchases "at some point". Gold funds attracted $1.3 billion, BofA said. Tech stocks are particularly sensitive to rising interest rate expectations because their value rests heavily on future earnings, which are discounted more deeply when rates go up.

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Crypto-Crash Autopsy Shows Billions Erased in Flash Liquidations

(Bloomberg) -- Cryptocurrency markets are stabilizing after a $500 billion Bitcoin wipeout snuffed out a slew of speculative excesses that had been building for months.Signals across the virtual-currency complex show leveraged positions are getting flushed out while dip-buyers are emerging -- helping fuel a return toward $40,000 for the world’s biggest token.As the dust settles following the Wednesday crash, Bybt data shows liquidations have totaled roughly $10 billion since Wednesday. Outstanding futures contracts have tumbled from a $28 billion peak in April to just $13 billion Thursday.The hundreds of billions of dollars changing hands across derivatives this week eclipsed activity in the cash market, as speculators rushed to close positions in the meltdown.“The selloff was greatly exacerbated by a lot of leverage,” said Martin Green, chief executive officer at Cambrian Asset Management, a $150 million crypto fund. “Now that the excess leverage has been liquidated, we have seen longs and leverage starting to be placed once again.”It all shows the power of crypto derivatives markets, where activity has exploded with the rise of multi-billion exchanges that cater to Wall Street and retail traders alike. The extreme volatility and big money in digital currencies is starting to draw regulatory attention, with the U.S. Treasury Department calling for stronger tax compliance within the space.This year’s relentless boom has pushed the likes of Ethereum up as much as 2,200%, while Dogecoin -- a token created as a joke -- became as valuable as blue-chip American companies. Things went awry this week as Bitcoin slid toward $30,000, fueled by regulatory missives from China’s central bank while Tesla Inc. billionaire Elon Musk tempered his enthusiasm for the asset.“You got all those bearish news and eventually you hit the point where a lot of the leveraged positions were getting liquidated,” said Justin d’Anethan, sales manager at EQUOS, a crypto exchange run by Diginex. “When that happens, it’s just a cascading fall.”Volumes surged Wednesday across exchanges, many of which offer high leverage untethered by regulations. As of roughly 7 a.m. in New York, the largest crypto platform Binance had recorded nearly $200 billion in derivatives volume over the preceding 24 hours. At OKEx and Bybit, activity had more than doubled from the prior period.To make things worse, the frenzy coincided with disruptions at Binance, Coinbase and Kraken, deepening panic across cryptoland.Open interest in both options and futures stabilized on Wednesday afternoon in New York trading, as major investors from Cathie Wood to Justin Sun soothed nerves with bullish remarks.On Deribit, the biggest crypto options exchange, a volatility index similar to the VIX dropped to 117 on Thursday from a high of 132 yesterday.One signal in the futures market suggests things are beginning to stabilize.Speculative bulls on Thursday are back trading perpetual crypto futures -- where no underlying asset is delivered -- to narrow their discount to the spot price. The spread, known as the funding rate, is typically at a premium during rallies amid strong demand to go long, but it plunged into negative territory yesterday.“There is little question that the reports of margin calls and other forms of the ‘unwinding of leverage’ took place yesterday,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist for Miller Tabak + Co. “The fact that they were all able to close well above their lows tells us that much of that ‘forced selling’ faded during the day.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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(Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG’s truck chief expects hydrogen-powered big rigs to play an important role in slashing emissions from the transportation sector despite the technological hurdles and skepticism raised by two prominent rivals.Focusing solely on battery-electric vehicles would be risky because of the scarcity of certain raw materials and challenges grids will have supporting wide-ranging charging networks for trucks and buses, Martin Daum, Daimler Truck’s chief executive officer, said in a phone interview.“We cannot afford to bank on just one technology to reach the climate goals,” Daum said. “The focus until 2025 will be 100% on battery-electric vehicles. Between 2025 and 2035, we’re going to need both battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles because the massively growing infrastructure requirements require a two-legged approach.”Fuel cells, which generate electricity from hydrogen and therefore eliminate the need to recharge batteries, have been touted for years as a potential alternative to combustion engines. But high costs and sparse fueling infrastructure have stood in the way of broader adoption and left the technology far behind battery-electric powertrains in the passenger-car market.Electrifying commercial vehicles is more complex -- they’re larger, heavier and used for everything from deliveries to supermarkets in urban areas to long-haul transport in remote areas. Daimler recently formed a joint venture with rival Volvo AB to jointly develop fuel cell stacks.Daimler’s DetractorsWhile prominent industry leaders including Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk and Volkswagen AG’s Herbert Diess have repeatedly criticized fuel cells and argued battery power is the only way forward, Daimler and Volvo aren’t alone in seeing long-term potential.“Decarbonization of the energy mix represents the most profound shift in energy since the start of the industrial revolution,” Sanford Bernstein analysts led by Neil Beveridge said in a note to clients. “It is simply impossible to reach net zero by 2050 without hydrogen playing a major role.”Daimler’s truck division is the world’s largest maker of commercial vehicles and on track to be spun off from the Mercedes-Benz luxury-car operations this year. The split reflects the diverging technology trends between passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Both will need enormous investment in new technology to comply with stricter emissions standards.Daum, 61, mapped out more aggressive profitability targets on Thursday and objectives to generate the funds needed to navigate the industry’s transformation.“We want to be a resilient company that can avoid losses even in difficult years,” he said. The unit plans to list at the Frankfurt stock exchange later this year and could enter the country’s blue-chip DAX Index.Global PresenceDaimler boasts a truly global footprint that’s unique among commercial-vehicle manufacturers. While Volvo just trimmed its presence in Asia by selling its UD Trucks business in Japan, VW’s Traton SE unit is finishing its takeover of U.S. truckmaker Navistar International Corp. next quarter.Apart from Mercedes trucks, Daimler’s trucks and buses division comprises Fuso in Japan, BharatBenz in India, Setra in Germany and Freightliner, Thomas Built and Western Star in North America.The company has relied heavily on profits from Freightliner in recent years, as North America tends to generate much of the industry’s earnings. Executives said Thursday that boosting profitability at European operations will be a top priority and pledged to reduce personnel and material costs to become more competitive in the region.Asked whether Daimler may consider an acquisition of CNH Industrial NV’s Italian business Iveco, Daum said his focus is on the company’s own operations. “I don’t see the need for us to add an asset to our European business,” he said. “There are no plans for any structural changes.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Trudeau Tightens Up Mortgages After Macklem Sounds Housing Alarm

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian officials escalated efforts to cool the nation’s booming housing market, moving ahead with tighter mortgage qualification rules after the central bank issued a fresh warning against buyers taking on too much debt.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government set a new benchmark interest rate on Thursday afternoon to determine whether people can qualify for mortgages that are insured by Canada’s housing agency. The move matches an April decision by the nation’s banking regulator to do the same for uninsured mortgages.The regulator -- the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions -- announced earlier Thursday it would implement its new rules June 1.Those steps coincided with a stern warning from Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem in the morning cautioning that Canadians should neither assume interest rates will remain at historic lows nor expect recent sharp gains in home prices to continue.“It is vitally important that homeownership remain within reach for Canadians,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.The moves come amid a surge in housing prices that’s raising concern among policy makers and economists. Cheap mortgages and new remote-working conditions have spurred a frenzy of demand for more spacious homes, with house hunters bidding up prices across the country.Canadians are so alarmed by the red-hot housing that nearly half the respondents in a Nanos Research Group poll for Bloomberg News say they’d like to see the Bank of Canada raise borrowing costs to curb demand for real estate and stabilize prices.Still, the measures announced Thursday are seen as incremental steps rather than representing a fundamental shift in policy.With the changes, home buyers will have to show they can afford a minimum rate of 5.25%. The current threshold, based on posted rates of Canada’s six largest lenders, is 4.79%. Economists have been estimating the tighter qualification restrictions would reduce the buying power of households by about 5%.The changes will have little impact on current housing price dynamics, according to Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.“This is not a game changer by any stretch of the imagination and it was highly expected,” Tal said by phone from Toronto.The measures from the government and the regulator came only hours after the Bank of Canada released its annual financial stability report, which highlighted the growing vulnerabilities associated with overleveraged households and speculative housing activity. It flagged three urban markets -- Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal -- as showing excess “exuberance,” with the national capital of Ottawa on the cusp of crossing that threshold.‘Not Normal”At a press conference, Macklem said some people have taken on “significantly” more debt, with many carrying very large mortgages relative to income. Borrowers and lenders need to understand that interest rates won’t always be at historic lows, and home buyers won’t be able to rely on rising values, he said.“It is important to understand that the recent rapid increases in home prices are not normal,” Macklem said. “Counting on ever higher house prices to build home equity that can be used to refinance mortgages in the future is a bad idea.”Outside of the warnings Thursday, it’s not clear how much the central bank can do to cool the market.Growing household vulnerabilities could give policy makers more reason to consider raising borrowing costs, for example, but higher rates would also inflate risks -- such as slow growth or a price correction. Macklem’s next interest-rate decision is due June 9 and the Bank of Canada has said it won’t consider raising its 0.25% benchmark rate until he economy is recovers fully from the Covid-19 pandemic.The Bank of Canada’s financial system review did find that Canada’s lenders could absorb a significant amount of losses in the case of another shock. The central bank said household debt and housing market vulnerabilities probably don’t pose a significant systemic threat to bank solvency, even though they could undermine future growth.“We have to look at the whole economy,” Macklem said at the press conference. “There are important parts of the economy that remain very weak, and the economy needs our support.”(Updates with context throughout.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Billionaire Founder of China Property Giant Dies of Illness

(Bloomberg) -- The billionaire founder of KE Holdings Inc. has died of an unspecified illness, a shocking development for a Chinese property company that pulled off one of the strongest U.S. market debuts of 2020.Zuo Hui, who turned the company known as Beike from a nationwide chain of real estate offices into China’s largest platform for housing transactions and services, died May 20 after an “unexpected worsening of illness,” his company said in a statement without elaborating. KE Holdings’ board will announce follow-up arrangements within two weeks, it added.Zuo, 50, has been the driving force behind the company’s success, headlining the bell-ringing ceremony when it went public and holding 81.1% of voting shares under a dual-class voting structure as of end-February, according to its annual report. The company’s American depositary receipts fell 0.8% to $49.85 in New York on Thursday, paring an earlier decline of almost 10%.Zuo was backed by some of Asia’s most influential startup investors, including Hillhouse Capital Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd., and ranks among SoftBank Group Corp.’s most successful bets. KE Holdings almost doubled on its August U.S. debut, vaulting Zuo into the ranks of the world’s richest entrepreneurs with a fortune in excess of $20 billion at one point, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index.Its shares were up 151% from their New York debut through Wednesday’s close, conferring on the late chairman a net worth of $14.8 billion.In an interview with CCTV aired in April, he downplayed the significance of the IPO and the riches it bestowed.“Why should I feel excited?” he said, dressed in jeans, a dark blue vest and black sneakers. “This makes no difference to me.”Read more: Founder of China Property Site With No Profits Worth $20 BillionBorn in 1971 in Shaanxi province, Zuo graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Beijing University of Chemical Technology in 1992 before getting into sales and establishing an insurance business, where he made his first fortune, according to local media. He then founded Beijing Lianjia Real Estate Brokerage Co. in 2001, when China’s property market was still relatively young, and started Ziroom in 2011 to offer long-term apartment rentals. In 2018, he incorporated KE and launched Beike, becoming one of the country’s most celebrated entrepreneurs.Beike uses artificial intelligence and big data to improve its service and provide market insights, according to its website. As of June, the company boasted 226 million homes on its platform and 39 million monthly active users on mobiles. That’s swelled to more than 48 million mobile monthly active users and half a million agents.The platform also draws in others by allowing decorators, renovators and financial institutions to connect with buyers, creating an ecosystem of property and related offerings.(Updates with closing share price in third paragraph)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Wealth Fund That Quadrupled Profit Now Pivots With Bet on Europe

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for the New Economy Daily newsletter, follow us @economics and subscribe to our podcast.One of Africa’s largest sovereign wealth funds rode the wave of U.S. technology stocks to a banner 2020. Now, it’s betting Europe will play catch-up.The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, fresh off a 51% surge in assets that took the fund above $2 billion, is boosting its exposure to European stocks and will add some Japanese equities, Chief Executive Officer Uche Orji said in an interview. The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumnus sees opportunity as Europe begins to open up from Covid lockdowns.“Last year, Europe underperformed America big time” as investors moved funds to technology companies profiting from the shift to online services at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Orji said. As the global economy reopens, countries with broader industrial bases and services such as Europe “will become more interesting,” he said.The Euro Stoxx 50 equity benchmark has climbed almost 11% this year, buoyed by expectations of a rapid recovery as vaccinations against the coronavirus progress while fiscal and monetary policies across the region remain loose. It’s outperformed both the S&P 500 Index and MSCI All Countries World Index, which have risen 9.6% and 7.5% respectively in the year-to-date.Expanding FootprintThe NSIA has $2.1 billion of assets under management. About a third of that amount is held by its Future Generations Fund, which buys equities in developed and emerging markets. The authority had 25% of the FGF invested in stocks last year, with the “bulk” in the U.S., while European stocks accounted for less than 4%, Orji said.“We are just going to add more capital to expand our footprints in Europe and Japan, but Europe in particular is an area where we have not had a big presence,” he said.Orji, 51, has more than two decades of experience in international banking, with an MBA from Harvard Business School. Prior to his appointment as CEO of the NSIA in 2012, he’s had stints at Goldman Sachs Asset Management LP, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS Securities.The NSIA reported a four-fold increase in profit last year to 160 billion naira ($390 million). Returns this year will likely trail 2020 as a rally in global equities eases up and as it invests in infrastructure projects that can take longer to generate income, Orji said.The authority plans to establish a $200 million fund that builds health-care facilities to treat diseases including cancer and orthopedics. Africa’s most populous country has for decades lacked adequate investment in health care, prompting citizens including President Muhammadu Buhari to seek treatment abroad.The NSIA plans to finance the health-care projects with co-investors, Orji said, without providing more details.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Friday at 2PM EDT: Fireside Chat with AeroFarms CEO to Discuss Merger with Spring Valley Acquisition Corp.

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Top 85 Best High-End Bottled & Mineral Water Brands

"Thousands have lived without love, not one without water." - W.H. Auden.

BOTTLED WATER is drinking water (e.g., well water, distilled water, or spring water) packaged in plastic or glass water bottles. Bottled water may be carbonated ("fizzy") or not. Sizes range from small single serving bottles to large carboys for water coolers.

MINERAL WATER is water from a mineral spring containing various minerals such as salts and sulfur compounds. Mineral water can be sparkling (with effervescence), or still (without effervescence).

In modern times, it is far more common for mineral waters to be bottled at the source for distributed consumption. Travelling to the mineral water site for direct access to the water is now uncommon, and in many cases not possible (because of exclusive commercial ownership rights). There are more than 3,000 brands of mineral water commercially available worldwide. The more calcium plus magnesium ions are dissolved in water, the harder it is said to be water with few dissolved calcium plus magnesium ions is described as being soft.


Works Cited

Aitchison, Christin. “Bottled Water and Water Shortages.” Suite 101. 2008. Web.

Andrady, Anthony. Plastics and the environment. Hoboken, NJ : Wiley, 2003. Print.

Container Research Institute “Producer responsibility: A simple recipe for reducing waste.” CRI. 2010. Web.

LaMoreaux, Philip E. Springs and bottled waters of the world: ancient history, source, occurence, quality and use : with 53 tables. Berlin: Springer Limited, 2001. Print.

“Summary of PPA.” US EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. Web.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “Bottled Water.” CBS News. 2008. Web.

The Pacific Institute. “Bottled water and energy- a fact sheet.” Pacific Institute. 2008. Web.

“Wastes.” US EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. Web.


Crafting a Revolution: The Rise of Craft Brewing in Europe

In the 6,000 years since beer's existence, brewing practices have radically changed. While some breweries still like to toot the horn of tradition, such as with the Beer Purity Laws in Germany, consumers in recent years have leaned towards innovation and variety. An exploration of Europe's changing tastes.

On October 14, 1978, former American President Jimmy Carter signed a law giving home brewers a tax exemption for beer that was intended for personal use, effectively paving the way for a radical shift in the way beer has been produced and perceived. Although it hadn't yet become a cultural trend, craft brewing — as it's known today — became a new frontier for Americans who had grown tired of the watered-down lagers of large corporations such as Budweiser or Miller, two of the few who lent Americans the international reputation of being 'incompetant brewers.' But today, the tides have turned. Through the burgeoning of craft microbreweries in the United States, Europeans who have gotten a taste of American craft beers such as IPAs (India Pale Ales), farmhouse saisons or imperial stouts, among other varieties, have also grown tired of bland beers made by large European breweries who boast their ties to tradition and reputation. But will those breweries be able to live up to their reputations in light of a new emerging tradition?

Einstök - The Vikings have arrived

In 2008, Jack Sichterman was working with a group who was searching for new sites to create a new line of luxury bottled water. They soon found the lush rolling hills and valleys of Iceland and discovered it had some of the purest water in the world. Since water makes up 90% of beer, Sichterman, who had worked with Miller before, and who had helped launch Tsingtao in the United States, realised he'd stumbled upon a treasure trove. With only two breweries spliting the beer market in Iceland, both of which were producing boring, corporate lagers, he and David Altshuler knew they had to make land to brew good beer. In 2010, Einstök Ölgerð — which means "unique brewery" in Icelandic — emerged, brewing their first beer in late 2011 with the help of Baldur Karason (aka Baldur the Brewmaster), the most prestigious and accredited brewmaster in Iceland. But how receptive has the Icelandic public been to the beers that this young brewery makes? "It took a little while to change perceptions, but it's gotten to the point where bars and restaurants are finally using our name on their chalkboards, because they know it will drive traffic into their location," says Sichterman. To date, Einstök holds 45% of exports of all alcoholic beverages from Iceland. But Einstök was just the beginning of craft brewing in Iceland. Now there are craft breweries such as Ölvisholt, which has become known for their "Lava" imperial stout, Borg Brugghús, and Kaldi, all of which are experimenting with recipes to establish a new norm for beer. "Like anywhere else, we want craft beer to take its rightful place in the market. There are still a lot of artificial forces keeping us out of places where the big brewers don't want us to be, but we see that changing, slowly but surely, driven by consumer desire to have great beer."

The Gypsy Brewers

As you get closer to mainland Europe, you begin to see different approaches to craft brewing. In Denmark, a country that for decades has had the choice of either Carlsberg, or beer produced by the Royal Unibrew brewery group, it's estimated that there are now close to 200 microbreweries. Among them is Mikkeller, a gypsy brewery based in Copenhagen that's considered one of the most innovative. In the craft brewing world, a gypsy brewery is one that doesn't own its own brewing facility, but rather rents the facilities of and collaborates with other breweries, giving them the financial flexibility necessary to experiment with high-quality ingredients. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, who was a physics and math teacher at the time, began experimenting in his kitchen in 2006. After winning a handful of brewing competitions, he decided to sell his beer on the market. Now, he exports to 40 different countries across the globe. Although there's still a long way to go, people in Denmark are keeping their eye out more and more for quality. "People want better beer, they want to develop their palates and have new experiences. The big commercial breweries simply can't offer that," says Bjergsø. For him, the difference between craft brewing and commercial brewing lies in the amount of passion put into the product. It all rests on quality ingredients, not compromising the recipes, and using the best brewing methods available. "We brew extreme beer and use extreme ingredients. We're known for that. To date, we've brewed approximately 700 different kinds of beers." One time, a Danish politician discovered that Mikkeller was using coffee beans that were first passed through the digestive systems of weasels, considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, as an ingredient for their 'Beer Geek Brunch' imperial oatmeal stout. Appalled, the politician reported Mikkeller to the Danish health inspectorate because they were using 'shit' as an ingredient. But because the beer brewing process effectively kills off any and all forms of bacteria, the case was dropped.

Hubris in the face of the 'Reinheitsgebot'

The one country that's been having the most difficulties establishing a new norm for beer has been Germany. The Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, which has been around since 1516 has caused a lot of problems for younger brewers who'd like to share a stake in the art of craft brewing. The law states that brewers are only allowed to brew beer with three ingredients: water, barley and hops. Little do people know that although most beers in Germany carry the seal of 'purity,' the law has little to do with modern brewing practices. Historically, the Reinheitsgebot was implemented because of food scarcity and inconsistent harvests. Wheat beer, or hefeweizen, was so popular at the time that Wilhelm IV, then Duke of Bavaria, implemented the Reinheitsgebot to ensure that there would be enough wheat available to feed his subjects. But the law wasn't just aimed at conserving wheat. Spelt grains, rye and oats were also targeted, all of which have been used for thousands of years to produce so-called beer. So, what determines if a beer can be considered beer? Rather than being determined by the Reinheitsgebot, no matter how much big German brewers would have their customers believe, modern German beer is actually brewed according to a federal law that was enacted in 1993 to ensure that chemicals and other foreign matter that pose health hazards don't wind up in the end product. That has led to what some craft brewers today consider a very constricting situation when trying to explore new flavours and aromas. But craft brewers have gotten around that. "A dark beer with extra dark roasted coffee beans is simply called a 'Coffee Stout'," says Sebastian Mergel, owner of Berlin-based BierFabrik, formerly known as Beer4Wedding. Mergel points out that Berliner Weisse has historically been a traditional form of beer, but that because of its ingredients, it can't be labeled as beer, due to the federal law of 1993. But ultimately it comes down to consumer tastes. "Germans now recognise that other countries are also capable of brewing wonderful beers, sometimes even better," says Marcus Wanke, owner of Berlin-based Wanke Bräu. "It's like in a kitchen. In a small restaurant, you're able to cook with love. In a cafeteria, you also get something to eat but it can't be cooked with love — most people can taste the difference in emotion." And this could have large implications for German beer giants who still pride themselves with labeling their beer with the Reinheitsgebot. Some of them fear that a radical shift in the German beer market could threaten their claim to tradition, such as with the establishment of foreign breweries in Germany. The American microbrewery Stone Brewing Co., for example, which is known for its very hoppy IPAs, will be opening a location in Germany come late 2015, early 2016, with the goal of tapping into new emerging consumers tastes.

But some brewers see the situation differently. Philipp Brokamp, who opened Hops and Barley in 2008, a pub brewery that has a seating capacity of 80, and which only serves its beers on draught, doesn't think the shift will be so radical. Although he also loves IPAs and loves to experiment with different ingredients like rye, buck wheat, rice and oats, he knows Germans love the long-established cheap prices of beer. "I think in the next couple of years, over 95% of German beer will be just as it is today. Craft brewing is a very small market and most customers like their 'traditional' beer. I recognise that many people think it's interesting to taste special beers, but at home, they have their cheap pilsners." But he doesn't lack hope. "If more and more small breweries emerge now, things will change. It will be slow, but it will happen."

Robert Pazurek, who was born and raised in Berlin, had been sampling any and all beers he and his friends Florian Sternke and Dirk Hoplitschek could get their hands on before starting an online database for beer. They lost track of the different varieties they sampled, so they decided to create a web app to track their tasting experiences. From that emerged the Bier Index, a website aimed at encouraging consumers to "not just say 'brand x is my favourite because the TV and my football team say so,' but rather to go deeper into the nuances of the beer and think about what you do and don't like about it," says Pazurek. With a little help from their Bier Index, creative projects and offline events, such as the Bar Convent Berlin, a renowned bar and beverage convention for professionals that they recently hosted, maybe Pazurek and his team will be able to help put Germany back on the international beer map.

Beer as Art

Beer, as with any artform, expresses individuality. In the art world, some people may prefer a Monet over a Jackson Pollock, just as some people may prefer a Belgian-style quadrupel ale over a Baltic-style porter. But the fact remains: variety is the very crux of any diverse culture. Maybe we have the Americans to thank for giving us a lesson in beer culture, or maybe we should sing former President Carter our praises. But ultimately, it's the young and innovative European brewers today who are creating a new, vibrant and exciting landscape — a landscape that we can't entirely predict, but one that we look forward to with whetted taste buds.


Consumers choose

By branding and marketing water, it has been transformed from something that many of us took for granted into a product that now makes billions for global multinational companies.

But like all products, its success is driven by consumer demand.

"Some people… want to consider the bottled water industry as a marketing trick foisted upon consumers," says Kim Jeffery, chief executive of Nestle Waters in North America.

"I wish I was that good or had that much money.

"That is not a marketing feed, that's consumers voting with their purchases and their pocket books. Consumers make that decision that day."

The Foods That Make Billions. Liquid Gold, BBC2 at 2100 on 23 November 2010.


Watch the video: Ψύκτες Εμφιαλωμένου Νερού ΔΙΩΝΗ από τη RAINBOW WATERS (June 2022).


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