Flower powered drinks from Burnley

With John Lewis on the books, Calyx founders Raphael Ogunrinde is drinking in the success of his booming Burnley business

‘They are happy memories for me,’ recalled Raphael Ogunrinde. ‘Making drinks from hibiscus flowers with my mum, my hands would turn bright red and it would take several days for the red to wear off, only to turn them red again next time.’

Raphael Ogunrinde, founder of Calyx Drinks

Raphael has now turned those treasured memories into a career with his drinks brand Calyx. He creates drinks made with hibiscus flowers as well as with lavender and camomile. While production started in Raphael’s kitchen in Manchester, brewing the hibiscus on the stove and peeling mountains of ginger by hand, Lancashire with its wealth of heritage food and drink businesses was the natural choice for scaling-up production. He initially set up premises in Preston before taking up a more permanent home in his unit in Burnley earlier this year (2019).

Raphael uses dried flowers and blends them with other fruits and spices to create his drinks. As well as being delicious to drink they are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, B and C along with phenolic phytonutrients. The drinks can be enjoyed hot, cold or as a mixer. Calyx has been built on Raphael’s hard work and determination to succeed as well as the faith of close friends including his parish priest, who also became a shareholder of the company. And Raphael is proving he is a good investment because as well as supplying top delis, farm shops, restaurants and cafes, he also distributes to the Middle East and has just won a national contract with John Lewis as well as working with an international distributor in Chile. 

Calyx’s Lancashire base is something that is important to Raphael. As well as working with local gin distillers Batch Brew on collaborations, he also has ambitions to create a drink using the Lancashire rose.

‘It is important to have that identity with Lancashire for me,’ said Raphael. ‘I want to be able to shout about the fact Calyx is from Lancashire. When someone buys a Calyx produce in Dubai, they need to know they are made in Lancashire.

‘I have big dreams. I want Calyx to be a healthy drink option alongside other drinks in the likes of McDonalds. I want Calyx to be a global brand and one that represent Lancashire in the best way possible.’

Raphael’s story is just one of the many that Marketing Lancashire aims to celebrate on the back of their successful Taste Lancashire campaign to promote food and drink from the county to a wider audience. The campaign, which also aims to boost tourism to the area, has already enjoyed huge success with a successful Taste Lancashire Food and Drink Conference, featuring high profile speakers including ethnobotanist James Wong and Lancashire-born Mowgli founder, Nisha Katona.

The support Raphael has received as a Partner of Marketing Lancashire has been invaluable to him. ‘We’ve been with Marketing Lancashire for quite some time and it has given us some fantastic experiences and opportunities,’ said Raphael, who has showcased his drinks with Marketing Lancashire at the House of Commons, Fine Food North, the National Festival of Making and at Taste Lancashire conferences. ‘We have won presence in places like Holmes Mill through Marketing Lancashire events and the support and encouragement we have received from the organisation has been absolutely brilliant.  Working with Marketing Lancashire has done a lot for our business and I would never hesitate to recommend people work with them.’