Standing behind jugs of colorful liquids at Old Town Scottsdale’s Farmers Market, Irene Arellano and Elva Covarrubias tempt customers with aguas frescas ($4 for 12 oz.; $6 for 24 oz.). The chilled Mexican beverages are typically a mix of fruit blended with water, herbs and brown sugar or honey, with the occasional vegetable or edible flower thrown in for aromatics. Many of the fruits, including strawberries and guavas, are blended with the stems and skins for added nutrients.
Using recipes handed down from her mother and grandmother, Arellano started selling aguas frescas at the market’s First Friday a few years back, later recruiting Covarrubias to help launch Cantaguas, a Spanish play on words that roughly translates to “song juices.” The duo peddled their drinks at farmers markets and events around the Valley, and ultimately took part in ASU Prepped, a free six-week food-business incubator. “They really guided us on how to build the business,” Arellano says.
Today, they serve more than 12 aguas frescas varieties, from mango ginger pineapple to cucumber with mint, lime and chia seeds. They often experiment with new flavors, including beet and orange, which has no added sugar. “We’re trying to use more fruit and less sugar to stay on the healthier side,” Arellano says. “We’re modernizing them.”