Has anyone not tried aÃ§ai? AÃ§ai (ah-sigh-ee) is an amazing superfood straight out of the Amazon Rainforest.Â These berries, which are found on palm trees, are super high in antioxidants and taste absolutely amazing!
Sambazon was one of the first companies to introduce aÃ§ai to the states and it still produces some of the best and purest aÃ§ai available here.Â They are based in Southern California, believe in organic production, and hold themselves to the highest standards in sustainable operations.
Good news for us San Diegans: they just opened their first cafÃ© in Cardiff! That means all the delicious aÃ§ai bowls you could want before you hit the beach or after a good workout. I sat down with Jeremy Black, the Chief Brand Officer, on the day of their grand opening to ask him about aÃ§ai, Sambazon, and their new cafÃ©.
What inspired the cafÃ©?
The cafÃ© was actually inspired by a trip to Brazil back in 1999. The original vision was to create a cafÃ© and bring aÃ§ai here, but as we learned about the complexity of the harvesting and what needed to be done at a mass level, we found that, if done right, it could have a major positive impact on the Amazon.Â We thought instead of starting one place, we should sell to all of them. But, we always had a dream of one day coming back to the vision of having a cafÃ©.
Sambazon is based in San Clemente.Â Why did you pick Cardiff as the first cafÃ© location?
Itâ€™s a funny story. After 10 years, we were finally like, ok, itâ€™s time to do the cafÃ© and set up a project to find the right spot, somewhere close, probably in Orange County.Â But then, Rob Machado (Sambazon athlete and world-class surfer) called me up and was like, â€œHey, thereâ€™s this spot right down the street from my house. Itâ€™s unreal. Itâ€™s right next to Zenbu, Rimmel, and Seaside Market.Â It used to be a yogurt shop and itâ€™s probably an easy build out. I know the guys that run the center and they want you guys. You know, I told them you guys were thinking about this.â€ Basically, Rob Machado made it happen, so he could walk down and have aÃ§ai bowls every day.
Are you going to open more cafÃ©s? Are there any plans in place?
We got to figure this one out first and make sure itâ€™s working right. We really made this one as more of a place where people can come and experience the brand.
What do you recommend (from the cafÃ© menu) for someone who has yet to try a Sambazon product?
Iâ€™d start with the Rio Bowl. Itâ€™s the closest thing youâ€™d get to a bowl in Brazil, and once you know how that tastes, Iâ€™d start adding in the superfood toppings like hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and maca powder.
What about someone who already loves your aÃ§ai?
Iâ€™d go with the Build Your Own Bowl option that opens up a world of superfood possibilities.
Youâ€™ve built your company on health and sustainability. Â What differentiates Sambazon from other aÃ§ai products?
All our products are organic and weâ€™ve now certified our aÃ§ai as fair trade. And more importantly, we actually put real high quality aÃ§ai in our aÃ§ai products. Â We built our own aÃ§ai plant in the Amazon in 2005, so we could control the quality of berries from tree to bottle. Â Since aÃ§ai is new to the market, there are no standards or rules about putting a splash of aÃ§ai into a product and calling it â€œaÃ§ai juiceâ€ or â€œaÃ§ai.â€Â We created a page on our website to break it down and explain how you can tell if there is any aÃ§ai in your aÃ§ai product.Â Check out www.sambazon.com/realdeal.
At a time when local food is big, why is it still important to support a product from the Amazon?
Iâ€™m all about local. I love my farmers market, but there are also amazing superfood products from all over the world that, if sustainably harvested, can do a lot of good for the environment and the local people.Â AÃ§ai is a great example of this, but there are many more from things like organic chocolate, yerba mate, goji berries, and many other things that do not grow here.
Bethany Hamilton, one of your sponsored athletes, has a new movie out called Soul Surfer. Whatâ€™s the connection with aÃ§ai, Sambazon, and your athletes?
Bethany loves putting our aÃ§ai in her smoothies and wanted to see if we would hook her up if she helped promote our brand. That was about 5 years ago and weâ€™ve been sponsoring her ever since.Â Sheâ€™s been amazing to work with and Soul Surfer is really good. I highly recommend checking it out. The story was done really well and the womenâ€™s surfing is legit.
Any other news or information you want to share with our readers?
Come down to our new cafÃ© and have a bowl for breakfast, lunch or dinner.Â Youâ€™ll be surprised at how good it tastes and even more surprised about how good you feel after a bowl.Â Itâ€™s filling, but doesnâ€™t make you feel full. Great pre or post workout, especially after a yoga class.
The Sambazon AÃ§ai CafÃ© is located at 2031 San Elijo Ave. in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Theyâ€™re open seven days a week from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Be sure to check them out and tell us what you think!
Bahareh is a certified Health Coach based in Encinitas, California. She empowers others to live healthier, happier lives by eating right, increasing energy, reducing stress, and finding balance.