Sugarcane Island Founder Ganiu Ladejobi Offers Cocktail Recipes & More

Sugarcane Island Founder Ganiu Ladejobi Offers Cocktail Recipes & More
sugarcane island via instagram

Ganiu Ladejobi grew up around Ditmas Park, and returned to the area four years ago. Last year, having taken an interest in the benefits of healthy natural juices, he started Sugarcane Island–a line of pure, raw juice that has taken off locally, currently on the shelves at Natural Frontier Market (1102 Cortelyou Road between Stratford and Westminster) and Stop 1 (525 E 7th Street between Cortelyou and Avenue C), and coming soon to Brooklyn Belly and Downtown Natural Market.

Today, the entrepreneur and self-professed “behind the scenes” guy tells us about the origins and execution of his idea and the importance of a natural diet–and shares some cocktail recipes for the hot summer nights ahead.

When and why did you start Sugarcane Island?

Sugarcane Island started with my own personal journey with healthier eating.

During a trip last year to Nigeria, I bought some sugarcane from a street seller and chewed the pieces to suck the juice out. I remembered doing this as a kid and while enjoying the natural sweet taste, I wondered if I could find it bottled when I returned to the States.

When I got back, I searched around everywhere for bottled pure/raw sugarcane juice. It was impossible to find. I found some canned version that was 30% juice with all other type of chemicals added, even sugar. Imagine that, adding sugar to sugarcane juice!

That was definitely not what I wanted–I wanted it in its raw state. When I could not find it, I decided I would make it and figure out how to bottle it in its raw state. I did, and let some friends and family try it. They liked it and things just kind of evolved from there.

sugarcane island

What were you doing before that, and how did you make your vision a reality?

I actually still work in finance while I am building Sugarcane Island. Juggling both is not easy, but the goal is to transition to fully working on Sugarcane Island as the company grows.

It took me about nine months to figure out the logistics of how to produce it. From buying the machinery to finding the domestic sugarcane farm that supplies me, to figuring out all the New York city food production laws and how to pressurize the bottles so it can last up to 60 days in its raw natural state while still destroying all the harmful pathogens, and so many other things.

sugarcane island pressurization machine

Ganiu’s intense pressurization machine

It was definitely not easy trying to work it all out but thankfully I enjoy what I am producing, so that has made the journey much easier to handle. Now my focus is on distribution–which is a whole different ball game, but going good so far.

Why is it important for people to drink natural sugarcane juice?

I think it’s important for people to drink natural sugarcane juice, and just all raw natural juices in general, because traditional packaged juices usually have a bunch of additives, preservatives, refined sugar and other chemicals added to make them shelf-stable.

In addition to that, they are usually heat- or flash- (still heat) pasteurized, which kills the nutrients and flavor of raw juice. What you end up drinking is a very altered version of what pure juice is supposed to be. A raw natural juice is as close to nature as possible. No heat treatment, no additives, preservatives, natural colors or chemicals of any sort–just pure juice in it’s true form.

sugarcane island bottles

As far as raw sugarcane juice, it’s a naturally sweet beverage with health benefits. The juice contains no simple sugars (refined white sugar) or any other sweetener. The sugar content is all natural sugarcane sweetness–complex carbohydrates that burn slowly in the body and provide energy to working muscles. It also contains protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron and potassium.

The variety of sugarcane juice we use for Sugarcane Island is also high in dietary fiber. Diets high in fiber and low in cholesterol and saturated fats have a number of health benefits, like lowering blood pressure, controlling blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of developing coronary heart disease, and regulating digestive process.

With those benefits in mind, Ganiu offers some Sugarcane Island-based drink recipes of the adult variety.

sugarcane island mimosa via Facebook

Sugarcane Mimosa

  • 12oz or 16oz Sugarcane Island raw sugarcane juice
  • Any champagne (preferably dry or extra dry)
  • 1 strawberry
mojito via sugacaneisland

Photo via sugarcaneisland

Sugarcane Mojito

  • 12oz or 16oz Sugarcane Island raw sugarcane juice
  • White Rum
  • Lime juice
  • Sparkling water
  • Mint leaves

In addition to finding Sugarcane Island at Natural Frontier Market, Stop 1, Downtown Natural Market, and Brooklyn Belly, you can keep up with Ganiu & co on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you’re traveling outside of Ditmas Park, pick it up at Brooklyn Fare (200 Schemerhorn Street between Hoyt and Bond) or try a martini that uses the juice at (where else?) Sugarcane Restaurant (238 Flatbush Avenue between Bergen Street and 6th Avenue).

Top photo via sugarcaneisland


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