Joe Sheehan, John “Griff” Griffith, and Henri Pellerin, Dean’s Zesty Booch, Bozeman, MT, USA

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

J: My hippie roommates in college turned me on to Wonder Drink in 2009-2010 and at the time I was willing to tolerate the somewhat strange taste for the purported benefits. I grew to like it’s flavors rather quickly, especially once I met Dean, the founder of our company, who forever changed the way I perceived the potential of what Kombucha can taste like.

G: I remember someone crashing at my house in college who was collecting what appeared to be a jellyfish in a jar on my kitchen counter. I promptly threw the miscreant’s offending item in the trash. Ten years later and I’m still taking pellicles out to the compost pile every week. They just weigh a lot more now.

H: I started drinking Kombucha in college. So, around 2007-2008.

Q: Why did you start your own Kombucha company?

J: After meeting Dean, I found myself really interested by the cult following his Booch had acquired. I started by designing him a brand, but it quickly spiraled into spending late nights together, dialing in a business plan in preparation for our opening in 2016.

G: Making booch allows me to apply my background in Microbiology while also serving as an outlet for creative expression.

H: I am not one of the founders of DZB but I have been friends with Dean since the days when he was just making booch for his friends and neighbors in recycled bottles with Joe’s stickers on them. I knew DZB was something I wanted to be a part of because the people involved are some of the smartest and most talented people I know, the brand has positive impact on our community, and the product speaks for itself.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

J: I like a lot of Brew Dr. flavors. I also really enjoyed the Health-Ade Reishi Chocolate flavor that Griff turned me on to. I’ve also been really enamored with some of the flavors the eight Montana Kombucha breweries have been putting out. There are eight of us in the state now and that’s awesome to see!

G: KKON 2016 at the world’s largest kombucha bar, a company from Japan who’s name escapes me. It was delicate, balanced, and overall just straight up delightful.

H: Juneshine in San Diego is a company with great kombucha products in the high ABV space in my opinion. Their Blood Orange Mint is especially good. Big Easy Bucha in New Orleans also has a great satsuma flavor.

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

J: Prior to this, I was working in marketing and advertising with a local company, so those skills have certainly come in handy here. I am also the drummer in a band called The Dusty Pockets, which just put out an album that you can find on Spotify and iTunes.

G: Lab Rat. Mostly infectious disease research. I also play bass in The Dusty Pockets with Joe.

H: Prior to joining the DZB team, I was a registered investment adviser and I still love investing and economics.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

ALL: When everyone else zigs, we Zest.

 

 

Matthew Lancor, Kombuchade, Plainfield, IL, USA

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I first discovered Kombucha in Seattle at the 2014 USA Rugby Championships. I drank 3 bottles over the weekend at my Rugby Tournament and I felt like a champion. We only finished 4th place, but I came out a winner.

Q: Why did you start your own Kombucha company?

I couldn’t afford to drink as much Kombucha as I wanted! It also helped that I was passionate about the microbiome, and the positive effects I was feeling as an athlete. Pretty soon I had people from my Crossfit gym, Rugby Club, and Yoga studio wanting to buy growlers of my Kombucha.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Celery Lavender – Moss Beach Kombucha

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

In my previous life I was a Field Sales Engineer for a German Automation company. It was my job to assist engineers in large scale manufacturing plants build automated solutions. I worked in all different types of plants from Microwavable Bacon, to Candy, Cars, and Steel plants.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Easy Choices, Hard Life
Hard Choices, Easy Life
-Jerzy Gregorek-

 

Ben Calkins, Happy Mountain Kombucha, Portland, OR, USA

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

Just like most, I had that one friend who introduced me to the funky brew they made in their garage in college. First try wasn’t great, but for some reason I wanted more.

Q: Why did you start your own Kombucha company?

In my case, the kombucha found me. Happy Mountain Kombucha was the in-house kombucha for Portland tea company, Tea Chai Té, which has been hand crafting loose leaf tea for over 15 years. Dominic and Angela Valdes were making kombucha for their tea shops. Originally, they brought me into the company to help sell their loose leaf tea. But after trying their kombucha, I knew we need to try and expand this part of the company. About a year later, Dominic and I had split Happy Mountain Kombucha off into its own company. We then brought on my good friends Kyle Moore and Andrew Gay to lead operations and brewing. Together we spent this time perfecting the formula and identifying what made our kombucha stand out–not too sweet and not too vinegary–a kombucha for everyone. We think we’ve done a fairly good job at finding that happy balance.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

We really love Lionheart Kombucha. We’re always exited to try their new seasonal flavors. Great kombucha, great brand, great people.

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

I have worked for a couple of food startups out of the San Francisco Bay Area. This is where I really explored how important it is to know where our food comes from and what we put into our bodies.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Our company mission is a little cheesy, but I think we all truly live by it: “To fuel and inspire the adventurous spirit.” I love this because no matter what your adventure is, whether it’s climbing a mountain, raising kids, or being an entrepreneur, we all just want to live healthy, adventurous, and exciting lives.

 

Chad Huniu, Fermensch Kombucha, Huntington Beach, CA, USA

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I first discovered kombucha in Eugene, Oregon where I went to college. My first taste of booch was actually some homemade jun a friend had brought to a house party. However, I don’t think I quite understood the concept of fermentation, let alone booch, until I took a hands-on organic farming course where my teacher led us in a sauerkraut making workshop and someone brought to a class potluck the first (and spiciest) kimchi I ever had. After that, it was on. I’d caught the fermentation bug.

Q: Why did you start your own Kombucha company?

To make a kombucha that tastes as good as it is for you. It KILLS me when someone dismisses kombucha as “too funky” or “too sour” or “too weird.” I like the funk, but I understand that this can often be a roadblock for people in making healthier or better decisions of what to eat or drink. I really want to help change the American diet and food system–even if just in my community–by doing my small part as a kombucha brewer.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Oooo. I’ve got many! The Pickle Shop in Berkeley made an incredible celery booch, and Pilot Kombucha’s Celery Juniper is likewise delish. Soma’s Fennel Pear is amazing, as is Idaho Kombucha’s What The Huckleberry.

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

I used to be a line cook at a vegan restaurant called Seabirds Kitchen in Costa Mesa, which is also where I honed my fermentation skills. To be honest, I loved being a cook. I kind of miss being on my feet all day, the heat of the kitchen, the rush and adrenaline, using a knife like it was a part of my hand, the amazing people and personalities, the 90s hip hop bangers we’d put on during clean up. I do not miss the fryer. But I miss everything else. It’s a good thing Seabirds Kitchen is now one of Fermensch’s best customers!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Be excellent to each other.

 

 

Paul Seelhorst and Leon Benedens, Fairment, Berlin, Germany

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

5 years ago, when we started our Health Journey. We found that an evolutionary perspective on health helped us both to regain our own health. We started out with a Paleo Blog and founded the Paleo Convention, Europe’s biggest Paleo Event. Through Paleo, we also got into contact with Kombucha and the importance of our microbiome.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

2016 officially, although we were already brewing for years at home and in a small kitchen in the north of Berlin. When we hosted the first Paleo Convention in 2015, we also hosted our own Kombucha stall. Here in Berlin, we are still producing cultures like Kombucha, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, Ginger Bug, Sourdough and Equipment to ferment and work with people who have disabilities. We also sell Kombucha in stores, as well as Sauerkraut and other fermented foods and drinks.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Buddha’s Brew Hopped (yeah, we are German and we like hops! 😉 and Urban Kombucha (Ginger) from Switzerland.

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

Leon used to be in sales, blogging and marketing while Paul used to be a professional poker player, event manager and studied business administration. Through health problems we both found our way to gut health and fermented foods.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Health is not everything. But everything without health is nothing.

 

 

 

Shannon Kamins, Booch Organic Kombucha, London, ON, Canada

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I first discovered kombucha about 10 years ago, and it was love at first sip.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I healed my own gut by consuming a variety of fermented foods, but it was kombucha that I fell in love with making. From connecting with the SCOBY, brewing the tea and sugar, watching the fermentation process, tasting the complexity of the brew, and flavouring with the most unique ingredients out there, I knew it was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was able to turn my passion into my business!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Flavour – Tropical Goth – VAMS

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

Before starting Booch I worked as a manager at a local organic delivery service called Eat Green Organics.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Our only obligation as humankind is to be true to ourselves.

 

 

Brett Nobile, Ninja Kombucha, Richmond, VA, USA

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

We discovered kombucha in the late Quaternary period, I believe it was the Holocene epoch.

Q: Why did you start your own Kombucha company?

I developed an interest in herbalism from working in the field with Outward Bound. We learned about wild edible and medicinal plants and would collect them on the trail. I think the inspiration for the company grew from there, but I really got into kombucha when I took a break from drinking alcohol. It was just so restorative and healing feeling that I wanted to share.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Mountain Culture – Mint
Blue Ridge Bucha – Bluegrass Bucha
Buffalo Mountain – Ginger Fizz
Brew Doctor – Clear Mind

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

Formerly an Outward Bound instructor and High School Science teacher. Currently interning at Summer School Ceramics Shop where I direct the floor maintenance program and experiment with glazes.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

“Experience, study and the slow passage of time polish the patina of a master, but the core and essence is internal like the heart of an uncut diamond.”
-Young Master, Rah 42

 

Nicolas Adam, The Buch Brothers, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

12 years ago in France, from a friend. At the beginning I understood the process but hadn’t been attracted by it at all because of the acidity of it, it was really far into the vinegary phase. At that time I had just started cooking school and was more into nature wine and beer to get to know the basics, also it was already a lot to process so I didn’t really pay attention to the drink at that time. But now I realize that I drink it all the time when I start my own, that’s funny how works life!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I started my own company first because I fell in love with the process and I was dreaming to get into tea for many years already. Also, because I was super against all the kombucha I had tried so far, like vinegar, no tea flavors remaining, everybody doing the same flavors original (that doesn’t taste like tea really) and then ginger, ok we got it.

Don’t take it wrong, I love my colleagues work but that’s how I work and use to start my own projects, every time I start a project I’m against everything, then do tons of research to go as deep into the roots of the subject and all the uses from agricultural aspect to medicine…So I got a starter from the first kombucha brand I could find and started to experiment with the few first theories I had about the product by keeping the main focus: this drink is made of tea, from china, apparently even cured an emperor…all right so to me it has to be made only on tea, to be as good as the tea itself originally, with all the palette from the fermentation process, has to be on the same level as a perfect nature wine, and can be polyvalent meaning it can be drunk pure on the terrace, but also used on cocktails, to cook with, to be paired with food is also really important.

I’m looking to create a company as sustainable as possible, the project has been auto financed since the beginning, starting on at Cafe de Ceuvel, then moving to Sandberg Instituut for 1 and a half years. Since June I’ve been back in Amsterdam Noord, this time on my own. I’m trying to invent my own production codes by combining different knowledge from cooking, canning, wine making, distribution and sales. I see my “customers” as partners who allow me to express a vision which, I hope, will bring a new perspective to food & drink pairing by combining a taste experience with a social experiment. It’s not everyday you can have a kombucha bar at a Skate café, make a clip together with a movie maker and skaters who are part of the staff, and at the same time release a photo exhibition of those skaters that give a vision on interactions and pair the kombucha with oysters. That’s where I want to go, truth of action, create and generate opportunities, explore with a product that is allowing me such freedom because it naturally expresses it and has enough depth to speak for itself.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

This is a really difficult question – so far the most interesting I’ve tried was Go Kombucha, I like the fact they are working only on tea.

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

I’m a kid who had the chance to grow up by the ocean in one of the best villages you could find, I guess, in front of Jersey Island. My dream was to become an entomologist, but after a big disappointment from an engineering school I decided to learn cooking. I went to Paris and trained at the Ecole Superieure de Cusisine Française ESCF Grégoire Ferrandi, I learn from everyone. I’ve been really lucky to find all these chefs who opened my mind (Jean-Claude Chanroux, Eric Robert, Benoit Nicolas, Denis Rippa, Laurent Cesne, Jean-Paul Jeunet, Regis & Jacques Marcon, Stephane Laruelle, Stéphane Planche) and all the great cooks I met during this path. When I came back from my Caribbean experience, I decided to go into the canning process and work closer with local products. That’s how I met Coen & Ariane at Mortagne sur Gironde Le domaine du Meunier, they supported my work by giving me freedom to express my cooking skills. Thanks to them I had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam to help the Café de Ceuvel, where I started my first kombucha batch. In the end I think the Ceuvel really gave me the strength to reconstruct myself and mind to start a new project. They showed me that a future is possible you just have to trust it and give everything to make it happen!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Hahaha sorry, I don’t have one in mind, but I have thousands of inspiration sources – all the books I’ve read and the ones to come, music, image, actions, those are for me the biggest energy, for example the last documentary that really kicked my ass was Obey Giant: The Art and Dissent of Shepard Fairey. I’m a super big fan of his work, I want to do the same with my kombucha meaning that the kombucha is a field that helps to think about food quality, reveal production challenges, where sustainability is as important as quality of the product, human interactions… in the end what do we want to create, support & leave behind?

 

 

The 2nd Annual KBI EU Committee Meeting was a resounding success!

The meeting attracted more than 40 attendees representing a total of 22 European breweries from 8 different countries. It also inspired a total of 16 new members – 14 brands and 2 affiliates.

On Thursday, president Hannah Crum hosted “Paella con la Presidente” and met with several KBI and non KBI Kombucha brands while enjoying the literal fruits of the sea and one of Spain’s most famous dishes. Friday night Flax and Kale hosted KBI members for a delicious meal and a tour of their onsite “Kombucha laboratory.” Then on Saturday, everyone gathered at Kashaya Kombucha’s newly opened brewery for the 2nd annual meeting program.

During the meeting, several vital topics were covered including the new Standard of Identity (SoI) for Kombucha being developed by KBI members and the Board which led to a lively discussion. Additionally, ways to establish the SoI in the EU were also explored as presented by Laurent Coullumbe-Labarthe (Karma, France), former head of KBI EU as well as Mireia Mas Gilbert (Kombucha la Valiente, Spain) one of the hosts and organizers of the KBI EU meeting. HubDiagnostics presented on their Kombucha testing portal they hope to launch later this year.

At the request of several members, we arranged a tour of a local beer brewery, Edge Brewery, being run by Americans in Barcelona. Thanks to a sponsor donation from Good Culture, KBI was able to subsidize half of the cost of the tour. The tour provided some insight into how larger types of equipment from the beer industry may potentially be used for Kombucha brewing, plus we all enjoyed some tasty brews and delicious fare.

Upon return to Kashaya, there were additional presentations; one from Mannanova and the other from Hanna Instruments on different types of testing equipment. Hanna Instruments gave away one of their testers and Nicolas Lavalliere (LOV Kombucha, Spain) was the winner! 

KBI EU Committee Secretary, Kendra Sepulveda Littles (Bliss Kombucha, Spain) provided a report from Veritas, a local organic market, regarding local Kombucha sales. Saturday night, we ventured out to Bailus Bar where we ordered Kombucha Kocktails which included spirits brewed onsite.

Sunday, a smaller group of KBI members traveled to  Tarragona, about an hour from Barcelona, to visit Kombucha la Valiente’s facility. Mireia and Javier were wonderful hosts and Krister Hall (The Good Guys Kombucha, Finland) provided a lesson in tea as that is his field of expertise and what inspired him to start brewing Kombucha.

We left Barcelona with so many great memories and thankfulness to everyone who attended the seminars, tours and delicious dinners. We’d like to offer our sincerest gratitude to all of the KBI members who went above and beyond donating their time and effort to make this a successful event

  • Kendra Littles (Bliss Kombucha, Spain)
  • Fern & Christopher (Kashaya Kombucha, Spain)
  • Mireia & Javier (Kombucha la Valiente, Spain)
  • Jesus Zamorano (Soul K, Spain)

Notes and the presentations from the meeting can be found HERE in the Member Forum.

We invite every KBI member from the EU to join us on our monthly European Committee meeting calls: 1st Wednesday of every month at 17:30 CEST

We hope you all had a good time and will consider joining us at KombuchaKon in April 2019! You can find addition information about how to attend or become a sponsor -> https://kombuchabrewers.org/kombuchakon-2019/

 

 

Nion Sheppard, Alua Kombucha, Mount Shasta, CA, USA

 

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

In 2012, A friend on Maui dragged me into Maui Kombucha and I was very reluctant. They ordered a pint and I just ordered a water. They insisted that I try it, and I quite literally plugged my nose as I tasted it. (I had tried a few tasters of bottled Kombucha before and couldn’t understand how people drank that stuff!) Next thing you know I order a pint, then started going there any time I was on that side of Maui, quickly became friends with the owners, and started helping them with expansion ideas and marketing. I got to learn so much about it and just couldn’t get enough of the freshly brewed bubbly stuff!

Q: Why did you start your own Kombucha company?

Soon after I moved to Northern California, I quickly realized there was no good Kombucha here. I contacted my friends at Maui Kombucha and asked them to partner with me to open a Kombucha brewery. They were interested, but had their hands full on Maui. So, I started scaling up in 2016 and rented space in a commercial kitchen and got signed up for the 2017 Farmers Market. We had no idea what to expect. We showed up with 3 kegs and sold out in 30 minutes. My partner, Rebecca, looked at me and said, ‘What did we just get ourselves into?’ Soon after, we built our first facility and have been growing fast ever since.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

I am still partial to MOG. Mango Orange Guava from Maui Kombucha. Its the spark that lit the fire for me and will always have a place in my heart.

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

I used to be the VP of a large tourism company on Maui. It taught me so much about business development and marketing. Before that I had many years in commercial kitchens as well as mixology. Kombucha gave me the opportunity to combine those skills.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

In life, the hardest tests go to the best students.