LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville beverage company Phocus is making a splash nationwide for its caffeinated sparking water.
This idea for Phocus was born when co-founder John Mittel was in medical school at the University of Louisville.
“I was going to do ophthalmology,” Mittel said. “I went to the vending machine, and I looked and looked and I ended up just getting water. I got back to the table and I was like ‘Why don't they just have caffeine in this?’”
Mittel finished medical school, and things didn't go exactly how he originally planned.
“No, absolutely not,” he said. “Even when we launched in October of 2017, it was still very surreal. It was even more surreal when I deffered residency.”
He pitched the idea for caffeinated sparkling water to a long-time friend, Thomas O'Grady.
“I've always been in trading and markets, and I have always been a trend follower,” O’Grady said.
That's when they started concentrating on Phocus.
“This nation is faced with a major problem with diabetes and obesity,” O’Grady said.
Phocus has “no calories, no sugar, no sweeteners — artificial or natural — no preservatives," Mittel said. "It really is the best of both worlds for caffeine as well as water hydration."
“The real difference-maker in the product is this amino acid called L-theanine, which most people don't know about," O'Grady added. "It naturally occurs in all green and black tea."
When L-theanine is paired with caffeine, it gives consumers a boost of energy without jitters and without a crash, according to the co-founders.
The drinks are sold online and in 2,000 retailers across 38 states, but O'Grady said headquarters will always be in Louisville.
Local retailers carrying it include Kroger, Paul's Fruit Market, Rainbow Blossom, Heine Brothers and boutique gyms, cafés and restaurants.
The company has a goal of making it to 5,000 retailers nationwide by the end of the year. It has twelve employees in Louisville and eight in the northeast.
And Phocus is preparing to its seventh flavor. Current flavors include blood orange, grapefruit, peach, yuzu and lime, cucumber and natural.
And although Mittel chose not to become an eye specialist, it looks like he and O'Grady's vision for the future of Phocus is 20/20.
Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.