As the flavor mastermind behind many of Green Meadows’ most popular releases, Celestino’s approach to flavor creation is part scientist, part chef, and part explorer. With Coquito, his intent was to go beyond creating a delicious flavor, and to ignite a sense of unity and celebration.
“Coquito is a love letter to my upbringing here in Southbridge, and hopefully a stride for Hispanics and Latinos”, Celestino expressed. “Especially with seeing some of my friends that have gotten locked up over the years for cannabis. Yeah, I did feel that pressure for the flavor to be validated by other Hispanics, that this would be ‘it’ – this would be the Coquito flavor.”
For the uninitiated, Coquito is a traditional holiday beverage, popular in Hispanic communities, known for being creamy, rich, and indulgent. Often referred to as “Puerto Rican eggnog”, Coquito typically consists of coconut cream, condensed and evaporated milk, and sometimes rum.
“It tastes very creamy and coconutty with cinnamon, and blends together nicely,” said Celestino. “I thought Coquito would be a great idea that, if it came to fruition and we executed it, I felt it would definitely resonate with a lot of people.”
Celestino drew inspiration for Coquito from his own personal experiences, and an intimate understanding of the traditional drink.
“The inspiration for Coquito was my upbringing here in the town of Southbridge, MA, where we do have a strong Hispanic presence. Most of my friends here in Southbridge are Puerto Rican. This is the time of year when a lot of people make Coquito. Growing up, around holiday time, we used to have a lot of Coquito,” Celestino commented.
“It brings people together to celebrate with warmth and cheerfulness and that’s the idea behind it – unity. Around this time of year, you go to the grocery store, and the ingredients are usually gone – literally the entire aisle. When I was of age to drink, I took it upon myself to start making my own. After a couple of years, I’ve also adopted it into my own traditional Christmas routine. Coquito is an homage to my upbringing and a lot of people that look like me. I wanted to create something that would resonate with my community.”
Celestino’s ambition was to execute the flavor flawlessly, however, formulating Coquito presented its own set of challenges.
“I knew was going to be heavy in cinnamon, and usually spicier flavors don’t translate well in vapes, they’d be irritable on the throat,” Celestino said.
To navigate the complexities of integrating the classic Coquito flavors required meticulous experimentation and an understanding of aromatic balance. After a series of painstaking trial and error, the result is a finely tuned flavor that reflects a cultural heritage and evokes a sense of holiday warmth for Coquito fans and newbies alike.
Celestino draws his ongoing inspiration from his personal flavor experiences, and an understanding of complementary aromas and terpenes.
“Most of the time it’s picturing how something would translate in a vape. If I go to a new city and try a new dessert, or something flavorful, I always think ‘oh hey, I wonder how this could be formulated into a vape’ ‘I’ve never seen a vape of this or that.’ I’ll see things out in the wild, whether its food or different types of beers, or anything that stands out. A lot of it has to do with smelling the terpenes and really getting a knack for deciphering what would complement each terpene. I build around aromas and ideas that I think would be a hit with people, or something that myself, as someone who consumes cannabis, would take a liking to,” he explained.
Green Meadows prides itself on pushing boundaries and offering unique, unexpected flavors to the market. Celestino’s dedication to delivering an authentic Coquito experience aligns with the company’s ethos of introducing distinctive formulations that stand out in the industry.
“We like to flare it up and try unique formulations, something that’s not being offered in the market,” Celestino added.
Infusing a personal story and cultural ties into developing a product can be difficult but rewarding. Celestino’s dedication to innovative creations not only sets Green Meadows apart but can potentially resonate with diverse audiences across the state of Massachusetts.
“Coquito was definitely something that I wanted to execute well because I do see it as an homage to my upbringing and I hope everyone feels like I delivered on Coquito.”