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Portland Made: Oregon Kombucha Starter Kit

Monday, May 04, 2015

 

Portland is increasingly  exporting its way of life. Whether it’s Blue Star Donuts opening locations in Tokyo, Pok Pok in NYC and LA, or New Seasons in San Francisco, there is something about these businesses that reflect the Portland culture that people in other cities want a piece of. We are fortunate in Portland to have some of the most productive farms and vineyards to feed our thriving restaurant scene, and our local chef rock stars are just one example of Portland’s trendsetting ways. Portland is being exported as a high quality brand and it’s most successful businesses are entering the national and international stage at a rapid pace. We are seeing an increasing demand for Portland Made goods around the world, with most of the demand currently coming from Japan. 

One step at a time, Portland is showing the nation, and the world, that hard work, passion and a desire to live a fulfilling life is the future of success in business. A highly varied collection of small, artisanal manufacturers can make a thriving economy that supports local culture and a lifestyle that is not only about consuming for the sake of it. There is a deeper exchange going on. A set of shared values that transcend the almighty dollar bill.

Oregon Kombucha holds true to these values by sharing their knowledge through "stater kits." Their products are sold in restaurants and coffee houses throughout Portland and sell in grocery stores and food coops around the Pacific NW. They brew thousands of gallons of Kombucha in their Portland factory, and Portland Made contributing writer, Peggy Acott sat down with Summer Abbott to find out more about the evolution of Oregon Kombucha.

Summer Abbott comes from a family of entrepreneurs. So, when the opportunity came about in 2009 to purchase a small teashop’s kombucha recipe and list of commercial accounts, Summer and her mother Phyllis decided it was a good move and took on the business together. The original owners had toyed with the idea of creating and selling a packaged “starter kit” for making kombucha at home, but it was never developed. However, it wasn’t long before the Abbots decided to actively pursue the idea of a simple kit that would enable people to easily make their own kombucha; two years later they stopped producing and selling the finished product and turned their attention entirely to the DIY kits.  Summer says, “So many people had started to drink kombucha in Portland, and I was hearing stories of people experiencing a ‘health revolution,’ so we thought why not have people make their own?” For Summer, to be able to have a focus of helping people improve their health was “the cool part of launching this business.”

Their Oregon Kombucha Starter Kit was the first of its kind on the market, and while it was exciting to be bringing something new to the public, it nevertheless came with the challenge of trying to explain a brand new product – especially to grocery store buyers. The Abbots discovered that how a new product is displayed or featured was crucial to getting the word out. Fortunately they were riding on the wave of growing popularity of natural foods, and an ever-increasing number of standard grocery store chains across the country were including a natural-food section in their locations. Summer says all in all they were very fortunate in their timing, and now Oregon Kombucha Starter Kits are available in thirty-seven states, with more in the works. They recently moved to a larger location to accommodate their growing popularity. Summer says it has been a very gratifying process, and that they continue to receive compliments and testimonials both in person and in emails from happy customers.

“Start with tea that is really delicious, and you’ll have a tasty kombucha.”

For those just starting out, the kit contains an organic tea in a choice of flavors, a reusable live culture, and a brewing guide. All you need to add is sugar, boiling water, and some time. Their website also has lots of tips and information.  Summer assures that making kombucha is really quite easy, and experimenting with different teas will glean individually flavorful results – “more delicious than any you can buy.”

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Kelley Roy is the founder of ADX, a 14,000 square foot Makerspace where artists and designers work along side each other to prototype and launch new product lines. ADX is also open to the general public and teaches people of all ages how to make. And if you don't want to do it yourself, you can hire them to do it for you. For more information check out adxportland.com

Portland Made is a digital storytelling platform and advocacy center for Portland's Maker Movement. We do 2 features a month on Portland Makers; connect makers with more local, national and international markets; connect makers with local professional and manufacturing resources; advocate for makers with politicians at all levels of government; work with PSU on an annual survey that captures the economic power of the Maker Movement; help makers find real estate; and promote Portland makers with local and national media. 

 

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