Sixty-year-old Azeez Rahman is a man with a vision for fresh sugarcane juice.
He wants to see carts selling it all over Trinidad and Tobago and the beverage to become as synonymous with the country as bake and shark.
The Business Express found him last week where he is most evenings: tending his van with the sign "Fresh 100 per cent Cane Juice Juicing on 'D' Spot" on the Queen's Park Savannah opposite the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain.
He grinds a piece of cane on his cane juice mill and hands it over in a Styrofoam cup. It is sweet and earthy, like sucking a fresh piece of cane without all the chewing.
"The best drink you could ever find," he insists.
Rahman says he takes great effort in selecting his cane as he does not want his customers to be dissatisfied. He sells it either fresh, squeezed on the mill, or frozen.
"(People) ask me what you put in it," he notes, adding that it is completely pure.
When he does mix it he adds orange, lime or passion fruit. His product ranges from $10 to $100 for a gallon.
"The people love it. They want me to be here. They ask where is the cane juice man. I find people here waiting for me," he points out.
He began selling it in 2010, long having an interest in the product. He notes that it is sold in about 200 countries around the world and many foreigners visiting his cart easily recognise it.
Rahman, a "part of the alternative health care movement", points out that unlike some other drinks cane juice has no preservatives or additives. He notes recent concerns over the negative health effects of energy drinks. Earlier this year Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan expressed concern about the hazards of these drinks, commenting that the very high content of caffeine in a small volume could be dangerous.
Rahman says alternatively cane juice was "the Rolls Royce of energy drinks". He stresses that it does not cure any disease but can assist in rebuilding health.
He points out that because the cane juice is fresh you get the micronutrients (minerals or vitamins required in minuscule amounts). According to livestrong.com cane juice is not a significant source of vitamins and minerals but its "high concentrations of antioxidant compounds may decrease cellular damage from free radicals and help prevent the development of certain diseases like cancer or heart disease".
The site also notes that cane juice has a low glycemic index when compared to other sweeteners and "when consumed, it doesn't cause a sharp spike in circulating glucose levels".
"Foods like sugarcane juice that have a low glycemic index can help keep glucose levels constant and prevent food and sugar cravings that might lead to weight gain," the site adds.
Rahman says many people express concern that cane juice could exacerbate diabetes, a belief he dismisses. The website americandiabetes.com lists evaporated cane juice as one of the natural sugar substitutes.
The site states: "This healthy alternative to white table sugar does not undergo the same degree of processing that refined sugar does, so it retains more of the nutrients found in sugar cane. When consumed in moderation, evaporated cane juice is a natural source of sweetness that can be a part of a healthy diet."
Rahman notes that the local health bill was "too big" and non-communicable diseases, like diabetes, have long been "out of hand". He points out that there is hope as people more and more are questioning what they are putting into their bodies.
"Is a bit slow. Better slow than never," he adds.
Questioned why there were not many other cane juice carts Rahman says that, unlike coconut vending, cane juice involves a lot of work and that is possibly keeping people away from it. He knows of another man in Chase Village and one in South also selling cane juice. To his knowledge he was the only one who grinds it on the spot.
He has taken the beverage to a number of events including the Carnival Village and the International Food Festival. Last Sunday he was scheduled to attend the Mango Festival 2012 at Mt Hope. He is not sure if the country would be able to market it abroad without interfering with the purity of the product.
Like many vendors around the country his business was negatively affected by the State of Emergency (SOE). Rahman lamented that his sales have yet to return to pre-SOE levels as people are not coming out as they used to. To illustrate his point he noted how sparsely populated the Savannah "strip" is of vendor tents, with ten out of the usual 32.
He said the profits selling cane juice are not high but he makes a living and is doing it "as a service to the people". It is his hope that other carts will start popping up across the nation.