The Austin Chronicle

Support Fair Wages and Your Digestion With Mayawell's Tonic

Agave + bubbles = good vibes

By Jessi Cape, July 24, 2020, Food

A new Austin-based bubbly tonic made with organic hand-harvested agave not only tastes great but helps improve digestion and boost immunity. Mayawell, whose name was inspired by Mayahuel, the goddess of the agave who represents life and vitality, is low in sugar and rich in prebiotic fiber. "Mayahuel is an important figure, especially with indigenous communities in Mexico, and we wanted to honor her with our name," said co-founder Oliver Shuttlesworth, a native Texan and UT graduate.

Shuttlesworth (CEO) and his partner in Oaxaca, Vicente Reyes (COO), were both socially conscious entrepreneurs and that inspired a mutual friend to introduce the future duo. Shuttlesworth started a bag company, Esperos, in which proceeds from every bag sold contributed to child education in developing countries; Reyes, an early mezcal pioneer in Oaxaca, spent years studying the agave plant's role in immunity and health, and developing what would become Mayawell's proprietary ingredient, PREGAVE.

Made of prebiotic agavin and agave nectar, PREGAVE delivers "a meaningful amount of prebiotic fiber with a very low amount of sugar (which is both low Glycemic Index and low in fructose)," said Shuttlesworth. "We use a unique blend of agave species with a clinically validated prebiotic benefit.

"The agave plant plays a very special role in Mexican, and specifically Oaxacan, culture," he added. "We believe that using only organic, hand-harvested agave helps reduce the amount of processing and creates a more pure product. Beyond that, as a company, we strive to create full-circle impact by providing meaningful work to Indigenous communities and through supporting regenerative farming efforts in areas where we harvest agave."

Now their socially conscious business endeavors continue through Mayawell by providing jobs with fair wages and education on sustainable land stewardship and agave sourcing in Oaxaca. "Our fair wage program, Hermano Maguey, was built out by Vicente. We help support initiatives such as a seed bank for agave and other crops (for regenerative farming purposes), microloans to equip farmers with the resources to cultivate agave crops, and a program to repurpose the espadín fibers from the agave into textiles that can be woven by local female artisans. The finished product is bottled in the Northeastern USA with a lead time under a month."

Immunity is a big topic right now, and while Mayawell is not a cure-all solution, it could aid in fortifying the body against illness, improve digestion, and elevate cognitive function. Their active prebiotic is "clinically proven to retain up to 60 percent of healthy gut bacteria," Shuttlesworth said. "A simple way to think of the difference between prebiotics and probiotics is as if probiotics are seeds and prebiotics are the water that helps grow and nourish them. While probiotics are living strands of bacteria, prebiotics are nondigestible fibers that help feed and strengthen the probiotic bacteria so that they operate at peak function. The gut is the body's second brain, so ensuring it operates at peak function is critical to one's holistic health and wellness."

Shuttlesworth explained that a beverage formulator helped them develop the combinations of functional, flavorful ingredients by looking at market trends and also classic drinking shrub recipes to design three unique flavors – Pineapple Mango Turmeric, Pear Lime Green Tea, and Strawberry Ginger Hibiscus. "We believe she knocked it out of the park."

Mayawell is currently sold locally at spots including Mañana Coffee at South Congress Hotel, Roots Juices at Equinox, Royal Blue Grocery, The Meteor, Thom’s, and Honest Mary’s, and slated for Central Market in the fall.

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