Americans drink Red Bull, Rockstar, 5 Hour Energy…Germans drink Club Mate.
South Americans used the mate (holly) leaves for years before it was discovered. The leaves possess many medicinal properties. Native Americans introduced the Spanish conquistadors to the leaves, and soon after the Jesuits grew them in gardens. The beverage numerous Germans drink today began as Sket-Bronte. But after George Latteier got the license for the non-alcoholic, caffeinated tea drink, it all blew up. Once introduced, the popularity became overwhelming…the bottling process was difficult due to such high carbonation and restricted distribution. Extensive research and testing solved the issue and the beverage was well on its way to its current international acclaim.
Latteier’s company sold the bubbly drink to restaurants in and around their location in Dietenhofen (Bavaria). Many people came by the company facility to pick up drinks by the case. During World War II, production ceased to the dismay of many people left itching for more. It wasn’t long before it started back up.
1957 saw Hans Sauernheimer marry into the family and he brought an automatic bottling and capping machines. They expanded and expanded again. Before long, loyal customers were driving hours upon hours from Northern Germany, cities like Hamburg, just to ensure they had their fix. Bront became a national sensation.
In 1994, the license was sold to Loscher Brewery, and they re-branded it “Club Mate.”
Germans love it. In and around Berlin, I don’t think I went one day without seeing someone drinking Club Mate. Numerous job postings for start-ups in Berlin state “we provide lunch for employees as well as CLUB MATE.”
There’s a few different varieties, including a few with alcohol. There’s limited availability in the USA, so it’s not easy if you can’t forego days without your Club Mate.
I don’t get it. I’m not sure I ever will. But I’ve never been an energy drink guzzler. I spent nearly a year around Berlin and I tried it multiple times, but I will never understand the obsession with Club Mate. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste, or something you need to grow up drinking. I’ll pass on the Club Mate.
Ein Bier bitte.