Profile: YAYA Kombucha, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Like most brewers, Tom and Charlotte began brewing kombucha in their home in Amsterdam. In 2015 they started brewing commercially, and the spare bedroom became a bonafide home brewery where the flavor development and research began. One year and many tastings later, the feedback was in, and people loved their kombucha. YAYA Kombucha was officially founded in late 2016 and early 2017 the brewery was fully operational. They were the first commercial brewery in Amsterdam.
In September 2019, Charlotte presented The 20 Things Nobody Ever Told Me About Running a Kombucha Brand and Brewery at the Berlin Kombucha Summit. Her talk highlighted many of the production challenges they faced, including:
- A first-hand report of the challenges of launching a kombucha company.
- Why glass bottles are a finite resource.
- The limitations posed by a lack of starter liquid as demand increases.
- Tips on flavoring.
- The advantage of a self-draining floor in a brewery.
I spoke with Charlotte on May 20. The half-hour podcast at the bottom of the page starts with her report on the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown on their business and how they plan to handle re-opening as Amsterdam allows cafes and restaurants to resume service in June. Meanwhile, they are enjoying direct contact with their customers as they deliver cans of ‘booch to homes in and around the city of Amsterdam.
Charlotte spoke of the many ways in which YAYA Kombucha grew organically. This includes the step-by-step increase in production from 5-liters, to 20-liters, to 50- and 100-liters, to their present 18,000-liter capacity.
Beyond learning the skills necessary to produce kombucha in volume, they also grew organically in terms of self-directed branding and design choices, hiring decisions, and investment.
What the future holds
While the big unknown remains how the coronavirus crisis will eventually resolve, Charlotte is passionate in her support for the continued growth of the category. She is well aware of the threat to authentic kombucha.
She encourages all companies who produce authentic kombucha to work together to protect the integrity of the product and not buy into faster, less expensive, options:
“It’s challenging because there are easier and cheaper ways to make kombucha than how we do it. I hope everyone will stick to their plan and keep producing fresh, real kombucha. It’s so important because many people in Europe have yet to experience their first taste of kombucha. As with any product, if the first taste does not seem right, they might never try it again.
To hear the story of YAYA Kombucha in Charlotte’s own words, click on the podcast below.