Clean power: Nightwatch energy drink highlights all-natural ingredients for ‘new generation’ of plant-based consumers

By Audrey Yow

- Last updated on GMT

Dutch brand Nightwatch rides on plant-based wave in Asia by launching all-natural energy drink for green consumers. © Nightwatch
Dutch brand Nightwatch rides on plant-based wave in Asia by launching all-natural energy drink for green consumers. © Nightwatch

Related tags Energy drink Caffeine functional beverage Sustainability

Dutch brand Nightwatch is aiming to ride the plant-based wave in Asia by launching an all-natural, and caffeine-free energy drink for ethically-minded consumers.

The glycemic index (GI) of traditional energy drinks typically ranges from 50 to 80 with sugar as the main culprit. A rapid rise in blood sugar levels causes the body to generate a lot of insulin to quickly store the sugars as glycogen or triglycerides. If this energy is not used fast enough, it will be converted into fat and lead to an increase in cholesterol levels, the main cause of cardiovascular disease.

This, in combination with caffeine, can lead to caffeine and blood sugar crashes once the drink’s effects wear off. Blood sugar crash, or hypoglycemia, include symptoms such as heart palpitations, anxiety and headache. Caffeine crashes can induce sudden fatigue, loss of concentration and headaches. This can lead to further caffeine cravings that puts one on a vicious cycle of energy high followed by sluggishness.

“Ninety percent of the world’s population take caffeinated drinks every day as a source of energy. Many of them drink unhealthy versions which is not sustainable. Everybody needs energy – students who cram for exams, adults who work long hours, people who are active in sports – but we should take it in a healthy way,”​ said Nightwatch co-founder Daniel Hazewindus.

Nightwatch offers a plant-based solution that also works as a functional beverage.

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The science of Nightwatch

The main ingredient is Ilex guayusa, a plant native to the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador. It is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

The guayusa leaf contains the amino acid L-theanine, which promotes relaxation. When combined with caffeine, it enhances focus while counteracting the effect of increased heart rate.

Guayusa also contains Xanthine alkaloids, active ingredients that enable the slow release of energy over time. What this means is a steady, sustainable stream of energy that would not cause heart palpitations or anxiety. Neither will it leave you feeling drained after the effects of the drink wears off.

Other beneficial ingredients include the sweetener Mexican blue agave, which is harvested from the foot of the Andes Mountains. Apple and grape juices, both great sources of fibre and vitamins, are also used to sweeten the drink. As a result, Nightwatch has a remarkably low glycemic index of 3.7. With 3.3 percent fructose and 0.8 percent fructose, the total sugar content of the drink is well below the 5 percent standard imposed by most health authorities.

Additionally, Nightwatch uses natural alpine water that contain beneficial minerals and boosts hydration. This gives the drink a clean sparkling taste.

“Nightwatch contains 4.2 grams of natural sugars per 100 ml. This keeps the calories low. There’s 80 mg caffeine per 250 ml can – nothing scary for the typical coffee drinker, because a cup of coffee can contain up to 200 mg of caffeine. As it is generally safe for healthy adults to consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day, we recommend a maximum consumption of five 250 ml cans of Nightwatch per day. If you don’t exceed the recommended dosage, Nightwatch can elevate mood and brain function,”​ said Hazewindus.

“Furthermore, our guayusa comes from the Napo region in Ecuador. This terroir gives a unique blend of flavour and effect. According to connoisseurs this is the best quality of guayusa available. To maintain the high levels of antioxidants and beneficial actives, our guayusa is dry treated at very low temperatures immediately after harvesting so all the goodness is preserved from farm to can.”

These are crucial differences between Nightwatch and traditional energy drinks that Hazewindus believes the new generation of consumers would appreciate – not only are this group health conscious, they are also supporters of environmentally friendly products.

Sustainable supply chain

“Since we’re benefiting from nature, it makes sense if we treat nature well. Nightwatch initiates projects to help the Quechua tribes grow and harvest guayusa without depleting Amazonian grounds. By drinking Nightwatch, you are enabling these farmers profit from their knowledge that has been passed down since ancient times,”​ said Hazewindus, who explained that the Quechua tribes have been drinking guayusa for centuries. The herb helps them stay sharp during their night watch duty to prevent attacks from wild animals and rival tribes. The name of this energy drink was inspired by these night watchmen.

As for the rest of the ingredients, they are sourced sustainably and ethically within Europe. There are no pesticides, fertilisers or any other harmful substances used in the production of guayusa. Nightwatch is also SKAL certified, a requirement for manufacturers of organic products in the Netherlands.

In addition, Nightwatch is halal and vegan, making it suitable for Asian regions with sizeable Muslim populations, such as in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

For now, Hazewindus has started the paperwork for distribution in Japan. Singapore will be next.

“I first tasted guayusa nine years ago and got inspired to make this into a healthy beverage for people around the world. This led to Nightwatch being founded in 2018 in the Netherlands,”​ said Hazewindus.

Since then, the Nightwatch energy drink has been sold in supermarkets, sports retail shops, hospitals, schools and DIY shops across Europe, which includes Germany, Switzerland, UK, Spain, Italy and France.

“We took about five years to get this right. It is difficult to get a clear product without sediments. Getting the flavour right was also a challenge, as we wanted to make something that has appeal across a wide consumer base,”​ said Hazewindus as he described the taste of Nightwatch to be a cross between green tea and iced lemon tea.

“Japan is one of the largest economies in Asia. Singapore has a diverse consumer base and its people are eager to try new things as can be seen in their cuisine landscape. It is also health-conscious like Japan,”​ said Hazewindus.

He plans to make the pricing competitive with existing energy drinks. They want to be displayed alongside competing brands, as well as sections that sell organic food.

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