It’s the chef that makes the restaurant, and the same principle applies to the world of e-juices, where flavor-makers reign supreme. The term “chef” has been adopted in the vape industry for this reason, as the process of flavor-making is akin to a culinary exploration. Ingredients are important sure, but it’s the chef that makes those ingredients shine, combining them in ingenious and unprecedented ways to bring out all the subtle nuances of a flavor.
It can take months, years even, to get a flavor just right. Why? Because vape juices are multidimensional — almost more so than food. They can’t just taste good. They’ve got to feel good, smell good, look good, go down smooth... At VanGo, they call this experience flaving.
And no one understands flaving better than the man behind VanGo Vapes, the Chef himself, Saadiq Daya. Saadiq puts it like this, “It’s all about the process. When we are doing testing, we keep going until it is perfect. We know when a flavor is bomb. That’s when we release it.”
So, what goes into the flavor-making process anyways? How do you create, test and launch a flavor only when you know it’s perfect? Saadiq explains that it all starts with an awareness of the world around you. He’s constantly watching the market, looking for gaps and opportunities, and then creating products to fill those gaps. VanGo’s coffee line was a result of one such observation. Saadiq realized there were no good coffees on the market, so he addressed that lack creating one of VanGo’s most popular collections in the process. This kind of innovation and discerning market awareness is what fuels VanGo’s flavor idea-tank and keeps the company a step ahead of the competition.
That said, VanGo is a big proponent of the competition. Saadiq understands that competition drives innovation, and innovation leads to new, better products. Part of his process is trying lots of different juices, from lots of different e-juice makers. For him, every tradeshow, vape event and industry meet & greet is a chance to try something new, and ultimately, to make something better. Of course, all chefs are not made equal...
The differences become apparent when we start talking about the actual flavor-making process. For Saadiq, it doesn’t matter how much time this process takes. As long as a flavor isn’t absolutely perfect, he isn’t happy. He keeps going until he has achieved a bull’s eye balance of tastes, sensations and aromas. He explains that it can take six to nine months until he even begins to get close with a flavor. And once he’s close, he starts in on shelf-testing. An e-juice is like a fine wine or an aged cheese that way. Some need months to fully maturate. Tobaccos are like this. A fruit-based flavor on the other hand can reach maturity in a matter of days.
It all depends on the ingredients. And the ingredients are a lot more complex than you might think. For example, Jango Chill is described as a slightly cool blend of mango, jackfruit and strawberries with hints of cactus and lychee. What this description doesn’t say is that there are actually four different types of mango, two kinds of jackfruit, several varieties of strawberries, and a selection of cactus and lychee that go into making this flavor. In total, this amounts to fifteen ingredients combined in delicate concentrations to achieve an exquisite balance of taste, smell and feel.
When it comes to achieving that balance, Saadiq is your man. His instincts are uncanny. He knows just how to make a strawberry flavor pop (add a touch of kiwi) or turn a green apple flavor into something more full-bodied (add a hint of pear). He understands that it takes layers to make a 2D flavor, 3D. And he endeavors to use only the highest quality ingredients in all his creations.
As our interview comes to a close, Saadiq proudly notes that if you try a VanGo juice from 2014, there is a world difference from a 2018 juice. This is because he is always getting better, honing his craft, trying new techniques and upping his flavor game. Then again, there are some juices that have been perfect from day one. Like Saadiq’s personal favorite, Frozen Tropix — one of his oldest and most tested juices, but also one that he has never changed! After all, a real chef knows when he gets it just right.