Prepare the pretzel dough: In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, yeast, and water and proof for 5 minutes or until foamy.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, place the flour, salt, olive oil, and the yeast mixture. Mix on medium-low speed for 5 to 6 minutes, until the dough is well-formed around the hook. If the dough is very dry after 3 minutes, add 1 tablespoon of water.
Transfer the dough to a clean lightly floured work surface and gently knead to form into a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Brush a large bowl with ½ teaspoon of olive oil and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 60 to 90 minutes, until the dough is almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn the dough out onto a clean (not floured) work surface and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll one piece of dough into an 18-inch rope. Grab the ends of the dough rope to make a U shape. Cross one of the ends of the rope over the other, leaving a wide loop of dough below them. Then, wrap the dough ends around each other again to create the pretzel's twist. Fold the twist towards you, into the center of the dough loop, to make a pretzel shape. (See step-by-step photos above). Place it onto the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.
Prepare the poaching water: In a large pot, combine the 6 cups of water and the baking soda and bring to a boil. Drop pretzels, one at a time, into the pot. Boil for 30 seconds, then lift out using a slotted spoon and place onto the baking sheet. While the dough is still wet, sprinkle with coarse salt. Use a sharp knife to cut a 4-inch slit along the bottom of each pretzel.
Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown.