A Hero is born: the evolution of TrueStart's unique coffee bar
Hi everyone, Helena here. This post is a special one, about something we’ve been excited about for SO long! For the past 9 months, we’ve been hard at work on our new product range. I’m telling you – it’s lucky we’ve got a never ending supply of caffeine!
So here it is - The power of TrueStart in your pocket, which we call The Hero Bar!
SO WHY HAVE WE DEVELOPED A BAR?
I’ve always made my own bars (and brownies!) with TrueStart, and all the time I hear new recipes from you guys too. From the marvellous Mel at Wonderfuel, making delicious energy balls powered by TrueStart, to so many of you adding it as an extra ingredient into your cooking and baking. We even have one guy who eats TrueStart by the scoop…(!) so we heard you loud and clear! People cleared wanted TrueStart on the go, more convenient and as a bigger part of their sports nutrition and general diet. The challenge for us was deciding how we make a completely natural, super convenient, edible version of TrueStart? Something that tastes absolutely awesome and is perfect for taking on the bike or throwing in your gym bag?
What next then? Well, we needed a recipe and some inspired flavours. Time for the experts to step in and join us in some heavily caffeinated brainstorming sessions, and who better than some of the geniuses behind Nakd, Trek and 9BAR?! After plenty of weird and wonderful ideas (Remember the “Ballnut” and the “Raspotato” – Steve? << ask Steve when you see him...), we eventually stripped everything back to basics and developed what we believe to be the ultimate energy bar!
NAILING THE RECIPE
From our experience and needs as athletes, we decided on a wholefood bar based on oats, seeds, nuts and TrueStart Performance Coffee, bound with coconut oil and agave nectar. It would come in 4 functional flavours with a Hero for everyone, whether you’re fruity, nutty, veggie or just obsessed with coffee!
The bars are all gluten free, suitable for vegans, contain at least 5g of protein and crucially deliver the same 95mg of natural caffeine as a scoop or sachet of TrueStart Coffee!It hasn’t been an easy process. I remember when the (official) version 1.0 was complete. They tasted great, but failed the hand bag test and ended up as a bag of oats! Not ideal – we hadn’t even taken them out on the bike yet! Back to the drawing board.
Version 1.0 - too dry
Version 2.0 - too chewy
Version 3.0 - arabica nailed!
Version 4.0 - cherry is amazing, give us more cherry
Version 4.1 - more cherry is a WINNER
Version 5.0 - beetroot, the surprising slam dunk!
Version 6.0 - brazil nuts… too bland
Version 7.0 - can’t taste the pistachios
Version 7.1 - STILL can’t taste the pistachios
Version 7.2 - just take the pistachios out
Version 8.0 - no Steve we can’t have the ballnut
Version 9.0 - peanuts are yum (thanks to David, George and Marc for pushing us on this one!)
Version 10.0 - peanut butter, wow. Keen on the peanut. Can we have more?
Version 11.0 - combination of peanuts and peanut butter is a crunchy yet smooth ridiculously awesome winner
Version 12.0 - broke the machine… 4 weeks delay...!
Version 13.0 - a little tweaking, a touch more coconut oil and fingers crossed...
Version 14.0 - nailed it
Worth the wait...
TESTING, TESTING AND MORE TESTING!
Each and every version was trialled by people we met at events, by our ambassadors, our friends, our family (thanks for letting us hi-jack so many family meals Sarah), #TeamTrueStart training runs, in meetings, whenever we could share them really. We asked people how to improve them, not just if they “liked it”.
The bars came with us on runs, lived in our top tube bags for hundreds of kms, got bashed about in the van and sat patiently in the office trying to avoid getting devoured by David, our resident Hero bar aficionado. The minor changes between each version inched us closer to the dream bar – massive kudos to Simon and Sioned, who worked tirelessly to absolutely nail the recipe. We’ve heard that Sioned has some well-caffeinated squirrels in her garden... Finally, we were happy. Great feedback was rolling in and the Hero was ready to reveal itself the world! And then – the bar failed the full scale trial. This was a big set back, and upsetting when we were so happy with the recipe. The equipment couldn’t cope with the consistency of the ingredients and had broken down, so we were back to square one which pushed the launch plan behind by four weeks. Never one to let a setback get the better of him, Simon was upbeat and straight back into development. Version 14.0 (!) is the best thing you’ve ever tasted. I was nervous that we wouldn’t be able to achieve the same level of awesomeness again, but in a blind taste test with 30 caffeine-hungry office workers, version 14.0 won hands down over the previous one! It was unanimous and I was relieved – everything happens for a reason. Most of all though, we were excited! TrueStart HQ was buzzing (even more than usual) and #TeamTrueStart were in for a treat!
WHY THESE 4 FLAVOURS?
Getting the flavours right wasn't easy and was so important! We wanted them to be unique, inspired by functional ingredients and taste perfect. Here at HQ, everyone is completely mixed on which flavour is their favourite. For me, it's the Beetroot. For Steve, it's Cherry. Sarah is torn between the Original Arabica and Beetroot. For David, it's the Peanut Butter (he thinks... but his consumption suggests he's just addicted to all of them!). For Simon, he just can't decide. Apparently today it's the Cherry, but yesterday it was the Original Arabica and on Wednesday it was the Peanut Butter! I guess this can only mean one thing; they're all pretty ace.
Originial Arabica - this guy was a no brainer! For the die-hard coffee lovers.
Coffee & Cherry - a fruity combination with an extra antioxidant boost from the sour cherries.
Coffee & Beetroot - a winning curve ball with an extra nitrate boost provided by our friend, beetroot.
Coffee & Peanut Butter - a truly epic combo providing extra protein from the peanut butter.
NAMING THE HERO
As I’m typing I’m remembering so much! Naming the bar was a big job in itself. Do we just simply call it the “TrueStart Bar”? Not very imaginative, is it? How about Pace? TrueBar? Lift? None of them had the impact we wanted, or projected the massive awesomeness of the bar! With a serious brain block going on, the 4 of us decided that heading over to a sunny roof terrace for a Friday pint was the answer. It was there that the ideas started flowing and Simon said, “I’ve got it – the HERO bar! Everyone needs a hero sometimes”. He was right, and it was perfect.
And so, the Hero was born.
DESIGNING THE HERO
That’s not the whole story though. Nailing the product is just one part of it - have you noticed how absolutely epic the Hero bar looks? This is down to Dan and Cole from Brond, our incredible branding partners. These guys are the creative geniuses behind all our products. They are truly part of the team and we owe them a huge thank you for the massive amount of work they have put into the Hero. We feel flipping lucky to have such talented and patient guys supporting us, who are as passionate about TrueStart as we are! I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve worked well into the night with them, after an identity crisis and I know there are plenty of times they’ve worked well into the night on the packaging without us too! Dan and Cole were involved in everything from the name to the tasting to the packaging. We’re proud of the huge attention to detail - have you spotted the cyclist, runners and swimmer training hard on each bar?
THANKS TO YOU!
Finally, we’d like to thank the groups of customers who have been so passionately involved in the bar. From everyone who took part in our initial surveys to those that have tested the bar in training and racing. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This product is a testament to what we can achieve when we work as a team, it’s a product that was created with you and for you.
GETTING YOUR HANDS ON A HERO
You can pick up a Starter Pack right here and try all 4 flavour bars and also 3 sachet of coffee for only £9.99 including delivery!
Helena & Simon