Tell us about your business in a nutshell – when & how did it start?
We are a brewery from Berlin, who specialise in kombucha based drinks and craft brewing. We started out making original flavoured kombucha in the familiar 0,33l bottle format as well as in 0,75l champagne bottles. Our approach to making kombucha has always been on the experimental side, combining selected ingredients with production techniques from beer and wine making. From the beginning, we set out to make a very high quality but still accessible product, exploring all the potential kombucha has.
Walker, Yannic, and Felix all have an artistic backgrounds, we were sharing studios in the north of Berlin, while Felix and Yannic already knew each other from university times. When Walker join the studios, he organised a group show in the US with all artists in the studio complex.
On that trip, Walker introduced the others to kombucha, which had already established itself in the States. We brought back some cultures to Berlin and Walker immediately began with home- brewing in the studio. We grew increasingly excited about the process and the flavors we could produce by experimenting with yeasts and other infusions.
We spent over a year just concentrating on understanding the process and the basic flavor of our kombucha until we grew out of Walker’s five square meter painting storage, which we converted into our first make-shift brewing room.
We admire your collaborations with other gastro partners, tell us a bit more about that and the motivation behind it.
Our collaboration with gastronomy began with Cookies Cream. After we decided to offer our kombucha in champagne bottles, we approached them with our initial results and they were the first ones to appreciate our angle of likening the kombucha to natural wine. They put a lot of faith into us right at the start and we developed bespoke flavors for them to have on their wine menu. Really without Cookies we most likely not have made it this far today.
We continued with artist editions, with which we could play with experimental ingredients or potential flavor ideas. At the same time we promoted our artist friends, who designed the labels for the limited editions. Very soon we were approached by local gastronomies to make collaboration, which was at once a great opportunity to make contacts and establish ourselves in the gastronomy scene, as well as a way to showcase our creativity in both the flavor as well as the design.
For us, the collaborations were a core part of our philosophy in operating as a business. We believe in supporting our gastronomy and retail partners fully as mutual extensions of each others brands. We lay great importance on maintaining personal relationships with our partners and cultivating a company mentality on cooperation and support. The collaborations are a lot of fun and really inspiring, even though at times we receive a lot of requests and in the end they are more work than one would think.
What is it about kombucha that you want to share with the world?
Kombucha can be very good and the potential it offers to create and experiment is enormous.
You put a lot of love into your brand image, from the packaging to the stunning warehouse. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind all of this?
As mentioned before, we all have artistic backgrounds. In fact we recruited more artists and creative people to work with us now in the brewery, which is very important for us. Felix is really the brains behind our outward appearance. Very early on, he came up with the color concept and the idea for the fictional flowers – often likened to Matisse’s paper cuts or Ellsworth Kelly’s plants and concrete shapes.
We set out to create a big collection or garden of make believe flowers and plant that correlated to flavors, projects, or events or perhaps just stand alone flowers as little animated clips. On the one hand it relates directly to our artistic work and on the other it serves as very flexible basis corporate design that offers us endless variations and opportunities to expand on.
Felix puts a lot of time and care into creating flowers and concepts for every collaboration, new product, and project that we have and it really shows. In our opinion our brand image is as important as our kombucha and the two are inseparable from one another.
What sets bouche apart from the other kombucha brewers out there?
When we started making kombucha together, there was virtually no real kombucha presence in Germany, aside from a few producers, who also specialised in other products. We came to market at the same time as several other Berliner producers and in our opinion we all offer something different. But most importantly, all of us are contributing to creating a greater general knowledge and appreciation as well as a market for kombucha.
We are proud of developing our own brewing techniques and original approaches to flavors. At the basis of all this lies Walker’s extensive research in creating processes and designing and building tanks and machines. This has been the most important step in producing our own starter in house with which we make all our kombucha. We can control the production of our kombucha from the very start to finish.
In addition to this, we are very careful in choosing the ingredients we work with, focusing on interesting pairings and mainly dry ingredients that are available all year round. We like to explore the possibilities of what kombucha can be. For example, we have combined it with hops to make it more akin to craft beer in our Lemondrop flavor. For our Earlybird, we use black tea for our fermentation and combine it with bergamot peel as our take on earl grey. For our most recent side project NOVIN, we have replaced the sugar in our fermentation with malt – a technique borrowed directly from beer brewing – and combine it with a wine reduction.