Kyle Pool and Andy Sist, New Motion Beverages, Los Angeles, CA, USA 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

We first discovered kombucha in 2014.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

We conceived New Motion to help solve one of life’s great paradoxes, which puts “doing what is good for you” against “doing what you want.” But we believe in having it all – so our Kombucha is brewed with recipes inspired by craft cocktails and a process informed by craft beer.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Sage Bistro Orange Creamsickle.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

Civil Engineer and Business Manager.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Work Hard, Play Harder, Love Always.

Pete Hinshaw, DrinKraft, Columbia, MO, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

It’s all her fault. The wife and I were on the road and she had a sour stomach. She said she’d heard kombucha might be the ticket. We stopped and got her one and I had a couple of sips. A couple of years later she took a class on back yard foraging. One night the teacher handed out SCOBYs. We let it to ferment for a week. She didn’t like the kombucha and I did. I’ve been fermenting kombucha ever since.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I ask myself the same question from time to time. I was recently retired. I thought Columbia should have a kombucha brewery. Bob’s your uncle.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

St.Louis is a couple of hours east from here. Chef William Pauley specializes in fermentation and kombucha. He usually has a chaga kombucha on the menu.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I did software development and systems work on Unix systems. I spent several years with Sprint and then I worked on the State of Tennessee’s Medicaid system. C programming, shell scripting, oracle database. A lot of the work was like solving puzzles and that was fun.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Is this an open book quiz? It’s hard to live up to anything all the time. The most inspiring professor I had, Mack Jones, taught Shakespeare. Mack always announced in the first class that everyone enrolled would get an A. It is easy to find a quote from Shakespeare that fits almost anything life can throw at a person. Here you go: “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Delwyn Ward and Brad Gwynne, Daily Organics, Auckland, New Zealand

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

In 2008 while travelling in America with my children

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

Because I love making things by hand

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Green Tea, Hibiscus, Lemongrass by Good Brew Kombucha in Melbourne, Australia

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

Art Historian

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Never say never

Mayte Priesca, Serendipity, Puebla, Mexico

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

Back in 2017, I was looking for a different approach to improve my health. So a friend shared with me a piece of scoby and showed me how to make my own Kombucha. It started at my house, for me and my family. My boys (6 and 8 years old) loved it, so it became a natural part of our day, to drink Kombucha.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

People kept asking me what I was doing, because I was looking better, more energetic and overall people were noticing a big change in me. So I started sharing my Kombucha and telling all my friends all the benefits, and I wanted everyone to try it. I wanted to share this; it if was helping me so much, I wanted to share it with the world.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Mango by GT’S

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I am a textile designer. It helped a lot at the beginning, since I designed all the labels, mark, names, etc… Now I am mainly focused on my Kombucha company, and I also have other organic products as well.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Healthy Mind – Healthy Body. Healthy body – Healthy Mind

 

Kristin and Casey Bergh, Compassion Kombucha, Bend, OR, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

When Kristin was battling leaky gut and autoimmune disease in 2012. Discovered the power of fermented foods in helping support gut health and healing.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

Before we founded Compassion Kombucha, we had the privilege to study and work in rural communities around the world, where we met families struggling with basic needs. We were humbled. And we were overwhelmed. We knew couldn’t help everyone, but what if we could help someone?

Then, when we began brewing our own kombucha-first for our own family, then for friends, and then for loyal customers all over town-we saw the ripple effect of a good idea. And we knew we had to start right here, with families.

We are using a passion (Kombucha) to share compassion within our community and hope to inspire others to do the same!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

GT’s Trilogy or Superberry

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

Casey is still a traffic engineer at Oregon State University – Cascades Campus by day. Kristin is a former public high school science/health teacher before staying home with their 3 young children.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

“Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone” – Andy Stanley

 

Jessica and Chris Ollis, Spring Branch Kombucha, Springfield, MO, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

About 10 years ago Chris bought a bottle of GT’s Multi-Green at a local health food store on a whim. His initial reaction was not favorable, but it grew on him and eventually became part of his daily routine. Jessica’s process was slower; but since trying our home brew, it’s become a daily habit that still feels like an indulgence!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

We had been brewing kombucha in our home for about a year, and we couldn’t keep up with the demand from family and friends. Since our town did not have a local commercial kombucha brewery, we saw a need that we might be able to fill. We have a young family, so the risk was scary. But after a year in business and no sign of slowing down, we are grateful we took the leap!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Jessica: Elixir Kombucha, Harvest Cider; Chris: GT’s Multi-Green.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

Chris is a Portfolio Manager for U.S. Bank, with just over 20 years of experience in the field. Jessica was a stay at home mom with a professional background in banking and insurance. Neither of us had experience in the beverage industry, but now we wonder why. This last year is the most fun we’ve ever had!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

 

 

 

 

Lenni Semmelink and Shaw Kamada-Laws, Nourishing Wholefoods, Doonan, Queensland, Australia

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I was woofing around northern California and learning a lot of things about local food production, cooking and community skill sharing. I had tried kombucha before this period but it was at the fermentation clubs and pot lucks that I was blown away by the diversity of styles, flavours and creative possibilities that kombucha can be!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

My partner started the business growing fresh sprouts for the farmers market, then we expanded into lacto fermented products, kombucha and water kefir and doing our own local distribution. I suppose the “why” behind it all is because we have been lucky enough to find a way to make a living that allows us to share our passion for food with our local community.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

I have to say that I really appreciate seasonal and unique home made kombucha brewed and shared between friends. A recent hit was lime and hops. I’ve also always loved drinking over-fermented home brew in kombucha based whisky sours.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

Parenting. My partner and I have three children under five so it can be pretty crazy managing a growing business and keeping the life balance in check but we do our best to remind each other of the bigger picture and dream about surfing, dancing, playing music, painting, making pots, cooking feasts and eating around a fire.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

We’ll sleep better one day…

Kimberly Lanski, Buddha’s Brew, Austin, TX, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

In 2000, a friend shared some he was making. He had gallon jars brewing all over his kitchen. He would fill wine bottles with the stuff and share it with us at a local macrobiotic restaurant! I was a long time meditator and it just resonated with me – energizing and yet relaxing and super healthy – just like meditation!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

Someone was selling kombucha at a local farmer’s market in 2005 and I felt really strongly that this would be a perfect business for me! He quit selling and I took over his spot. Everything took off quickly from there.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Fairment’s Raw Chai is great! Fairment is from Germany, they stayed with us in our Airbnb at KBI!

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I was living very austerely meditating for 20+ years with a spiritual group. Just making enough to get by. Before that I delivered mail for the Post Office for 12 years! Majored in Biology at a University.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change” -Buddha

 

Jessi Hoeft, Ensign Beverage, Hastings, NE, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I brewed my first batch of kombucha the summer I graduated high school in 1995. A friend’s aunt who was living in Colorado gave us a culture and said the drink she was making was helping her with all kinds of things including better complexion, weight loss, and less heart burn. We did not call it kombucha back then. We called it the weird mushroom drink under the sink. We had no idea how to care for it correctly. We would put a SCOBY in a sugary tea, wait for a bit of time then dip our ladle into it to pull off a few ounces to drink each day…holding our nose because it was soooo vinegary and acidic. After lots of education and many, many, many experimental batches we have learned to make a smooth, low sugar, low acid, non-alcoholic kombucha…and I don’t have to hold my nose any more when drinking it.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

While selling soap at the Nashville farmers market I had a friend who was making kombucha and selling it at the market and in small shops around town. We would often trade handmade soap for home-crafted kombucha. At one point we both had our products in Whole Foods and we reconnected. We chatted about what was happening in the kombucha market. Finally, the demand was growing for this healthy beverage option. At that time my husband and I were moving to Hastings, Nebraska with plans to start up a brewery. We saw a chance to produce both beer and kombucha. We have a tap room in Downtown Hastings and sell across the state of Nebraska. We are happy to bring this healthy beverage option to the middle of the map!!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Over the years I have tasted many different brands. On a quick trip to Colorado in 2015 I found the Rowdy Mermaid tap room. That was a game changer. It was a smooth kombucha without a lot of ginger or juice added to cover up the acids. That set the bar for us. I have recently told that story to Jamba, Founder of Rowdy Mermaid. He smiled and gave me a hug. Let me tell ya, that felt good 🙂

I should mention on that same trip, I found the Happy Leaf tap room. So delicious!! And in CANS! I knew right then and there that canning would be the sustainable way to package Ensign Beverage products.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

This brewery thing is full time now for myself and my husband, Nathan. We have 10 employees on staff as well. Growing the brands here in Nebraska and the region keeps us all on our toes. But, I have also had a wild career path from teaching to touring with national bands. Ask me about it sometime, I will tell you a story or two!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

It might not be your cup of tea, but you won’t know until you try it!!

 

 

 

Mike Durighello, Whalebird Kombucha, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

My friend Carson introduced me to kombucha in 2006 while I was at UC Santa Cruz. He was an amazing water man and had just taken me out to surf. Back at the car he pulled out a few bottles of GT’s Kombucha. I was like ‘kombooka what?!’ He said ‘just drink it’ and so I did in the hopes it would make me a better surfer. The first sip was the worst thing I’d ever tasted, but I stomached it with a smile. The second time we went surfing he brought out a different flavor, Mystic Mango by GT’s, and I was hooked. What I later realized is that my body had never had a fermented food before which was why I was so shocked after that initial sip. Weeks later I had developed quite an expensive appetite of drinking two kombuchas a day which at the time GT’s was priced at $5 each. I would bring a bottle into the library with me and it had this amazing effect on my study habits. With coffee I felt wired and scattered, but with kombucha I had this even keel, sustained energy that put me in the zone. Not only that but it curbed my appetite which allowed me to study for hours on end without having to run and grab a snack. Little did I know, but those library memories would spark my own kombucha company 6 years later. And by the way, it didn’t make me a better surfer.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I have a hard time being told what to do and after being fired from a few jobs for insubordination I realized that I needed a different path where I was in control of my own destiny. In 2012 my friend Alex moved in with me and said ‘Hey lets start a juicing business’ and I realized this was my opportunity. I worked evenings so while he was at work during the day I was learning how to start a juicing business. In my research I discovered that juicing required a ton of overhead (equipment and fruit) and I thought back to those library days and said to myself ‘why not kombucha?’ We learned how to make kombucha from this Russian guy on YouTube which at the time was one of the few ‘how to’s’ on kombucha. That was our baseline knowledge and after 1.5 years of customizing our fermentation and flavoring style we sold our first keg of kombucha to a local vegan cafe in the Spring of 2013.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

I think Fine Feathers makes some of the best kombucha on the market. My two favorite flavors of theirs are the Jasmine Peony and Lemon Cayenne. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for GT’s Mystic Mango and Guava Goddess.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

Prior to kombucha I was in the restaurant biz as a server and bartender. Just before I went full time with Whalebird in 2015 I was working in business development for a local tech company. When I’m not at the brewery I spend my time trail running, mountain biking, and spear fishing.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Life is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.