Local honey is seen for sale at Hunni Company in Edmonds. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Happy accident leads Edmonds couple to make Hunniwater drink

EDMONDS — The latest line of energy drinks by Karin and Eric Butler came about by accident.

Literally.

The couple’s 4-year-old with his stuffed monkey, Nibble, knocked over a half-gallon honey container on the carpet in the living room of their Edmonds home.

“That’s it, Hunniwater, write that down,” Eric Butler told his wife at the time.

He used the accident as inspiration to create a drink that mixes raw honey and juice-infused water.

From that, they launched Hunniwater line of beverages. Their current active line is the Hunniwater Detox drink. The Butlers tout the drinks as the perfect blend of sweetness and hydration.

The drinks comes in several flavors that can be purchased at PCC Markets, Safeway and QFC.

They’ve also started a honey-themed retail shop called Hunni Co. at 186 Sunset Ave. in Edmonds. At the shop, the couple sell art, apparel, honey bottles, candles and other products inspired by bees, honeycombs and honey. And of course, customers can pick up one of their signature drinks, and try new flavors as they come out.

The Butlers have been experimenting with speciality drinks for a while. Eric Butler, 44, had previously launched the mint-flavored-water Osmosis about a decade ago and Eric’s Famous Energy Drink between 2010 and 2012.

The couple have been through it all together, having met at a party on the UW campus in April 1999. They fell in love, and got married in May 2003.

None of the other of the drinks had taken off quite like Hunniwater.

As a matter of fact, the Butlers were struggling with his Eric’s Famous Energy Drink. “I felt like it was time to make a change,” says Eric. “It’s was kinda like it was always there, always the next big thing.”

While Karin was prepping her resume for real-world jobs at the time of the great honey spill, Eric Butler created his first sample of honey, water, and a hint of fruit and had his wife try as the first sample.

“I was sold,” she recalled.

Pre-production was 2012 for Hunniwater, and some of their first products were launched in Cafe Ladro and PCC Markets in 2013, adding their Detox line in 2014.

“We started working on the store in 2015,” said Karin of the soft launch of the storefront in Edmonds. The grand launch of Hunniwater location followed in February 2016. Hunniwater Detox flavors include matcha (think green tea), ginger cayenne, lemon and cinnamon.

“You have to give them all a good shake,” Karin Butler said, regarding the mixture’s tendency to settle at the bottom.

The couple continue to try to market their drink lines. The drinks are sold only in Washington state stores, but they’re hoping to get the drinks sold in Oregon and California.

They’re experimenting with more flavors. One of Karin Butler’s favorites is a charcoal cherry. As it hasn’t yet been launched in other locations, hardcore Hunniwater fans have to go straight to the Edmonds store to request it.

It’s really a collaborative process for the couple. The role of the Tastemaker is owned by Eric, where Karin’s experience in science has helped formula current and past drinks to scale.

She also runs the social media and storefront, where Eric manages some of the wholesale distribution aspects. “We kind of all work together until things go out,” Karin Butler described their tag-team process.

“It’s not ready until it’s ready. But we love it. As hard as it is, it’s definitely like another baby for us, and it’s so lucky that we get to do this.”

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