Is it just me, or is this kombucha drink completely taking over the community? I have seen Wal Mart continuously stocking this product, local businesses and companies are starting to sell it on tap and make other food products with it. So, this sparked my interest to learn more and who better to talk to than Spearfish’s very own handcrafted, artisanal, small-batch kombucha business—Scobi.
What is Kombucha?
There is an entire process to understand what kombucha even is and it has taken me a lot of researching to get the gist of this product. I finally just set up a time to talk to the Scobi Kombucha team and they broke it down for me. First off, they told me Kombucha is actually Japanese for mushroom tea, however, it is not so much a tea and actually a little more complicated than that. To start brewing Kombucha, you must first obtain a scoby. This scoby is short for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
Okay, if you’re a newbie like me those words are kind of scary right?
It’s totally safe because you put this scoby into a tea and it starts to ferment releasing vitamins, antioxidants and probiotics. Then they make sure the pH levels are all normal and safe to drink. Basically, Scobi has it all under control all we have to do is trust them and drink their product.
The next question is why? Why did this group of recently graduated and current university students start a business in the beverage industry? The beverage industry is one of the most complex fields to go into and these young professionals have really shown the Spearfish and surrounding communities how to execute a plan and make it successful.
The co-founders of this business are Carissa Hauck and Bianca Hutzler. Their story started through adversity. Hauck had plans to work abroad in the United Nations route right after graduation. During one of her trainings in Jiu Jitsu, she suffered the unhappy triad knee injury. That is the tearing of the meniscus, the MCL and the ACL. Ouch, right? Hauck took some time off and consulted with her roommate Hutzler. Huztler realized that Hauck made some tasty kombucha and suggested why not start up something related to that. Afterall, Hauck had been brewing kombucha before for about three years. Hutzlter was conveniently in a business class that required her to come up with a business plan for an existing business. They put two and two together and began the process. For about four months, the founding team worked on a strategy. How to brew, created surveys for a target audience and began researching everything they could to make this vision happen.
The founding team:
When asking any of the team members what their typical day looks like they all chuckled and said,
There is no stereotypical day, typical days don't exist for us.— Scobi Team
Some of the tasks they are always working on however, include delivering their product to all accounts, phone calls, checking in on those who are interested in their kombucha, legalities, brainstorming sessions and lots of research that actually require them to travel and tour similar businesses. Oh yeah and they brew kombucha. Every Sunday they dedicate their time to making new batches to stay supplied. It usually takes two weeks to ferment to get the right pH and flavor, but the wait is worthwhile—trust me.
They encourage health by using organic and locally sourced ingredients. Scobi also understands how important it is to stay conscientious of their carbon footprint which is why they brew in glass jars. They do not use heavy or big machinery and their kombucha is not carbonated or pasteurized.
So how can we spot Scobi Kombucha? Their iconic logo. They have chosen to use a whale as their brand, and being in the Black Hills, we have to ask why. They didn’t want to fall into the typical pine tree logo. Being different attracts people to know more and it is their opportunity to get to talk about their product, values and what they are all about. They only sell their kombucha in a glass bottle in an effort to be environmentally friendly. It is to encourage their consumers to reuse their bottle when continuing to buy their beverage. You can find their unique kombucha at the Green Oven, Blackbird Espresso, Sawyer Brewing, Bread Route National Food Coop. (this one is in Rapid City) and the Blue Spruce Coffee Truck, that will be at Downtown Friday Nights so make sure to grab some!
How to keep going
Through everything Scobi has accomplished, it is hard to believe that the majority of the team was still in school, studying and starting a business during finals. It is no secret that it definitely pushed their limits, but who said great things come easily. They made sure to have fun during all of their hard work. They all wanted this to work so their driven personalities helped keep each other accountable. They created a brewing playlist, made sure to stay future oriented and use their time wisely by waking up early and using every minute of their day. Personal investment was almost required to get the business up and running, but the team members said they were grateful for the help of the community, family and friends. One thing they do that helps them keep going is to remember to look at how far they’ve come and all that they’ve accomplished to know they are doing the right thing. One of the many smart moves they have made was to take personality tests and see how they work together and assign appropriate roles to each other. Through this they were able to come up with values and a mission statement that thoroughly and transparently represents them and their goals.
To find out more information about Scobi Kombucha, visit their website at www.scobikombucha.com.