Virtual KombuchaKon – Day 2

Following Day 1 of the conference, the second day of the Virtual Kombucha Conference started with a members-only meeting. Hannah Crum then welcomed all attendees for a review and discussion of the KBI Code of Practice.

Kombucha Code of Practice

The organization has been developing the KBI Code of Practice over the past five years. For many non-members, this was their first opportunity to comment and raise questions. Issues included:

  • Translation: in which languages will the Code be available? Will there be a summary that is easy for consumers to understand?
  • Seal Program: will this be voluntary? How will it be enforced? All brands (KBI members or not) will be able to display the seal, but how many will choose this?
  • Specificity: will over-specifying the details complicate the process and limit effectiveness?
  • Technical issues: such as the micron size for filtered kombucha.
  • Labeling: what requirements best serve consumers. How would consumers react to a label saying ‘Processed Kombucha’?
  • Categories: The group discussed the three main buckets of the Code:

Science Hour: How Kombucha Analytes Impact Flavor

Keisha Rose Harrison, a Ph.D. Candidate in Food Microbiology at Oregon State University reported on the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy as an innovative way to analyze of kombucha. The method relies on the acquisition of the spectroscopic fingerprint specific to each sample. This technique authenticates high-end wines and protects consumers against substandard versions of foods such as honey and olive oil.

Keisha went into incredible detail about her research, which this summary can’t hope to cover. Among the slides that surprised me was how she was able to show the correlation of the flavor profile and the many different acids present in kombucha.

The conversion of sweet tea into kombucha is not a straightforward process. Out of this variation comes the unique flavor from brand to brand.

And things can go wrong, where minute amounts of certain compounds can leave to a variety of off-flavors, from overly bitter or notes of tart apple, to the even less desirable!

A fascinating segment was where the NMR graphs of commercial brands were compared, showing to a precise degree the amount of alcohol, sugar, and so on.

She concludes that this level of analysis allows the industry to define different styles of kombucha beyond what the brands put on their labels.

Marketing and PR round-table

I was part of the Marketing and PR round-table with Deanne Gustafson from Kombucha on Tap and Lauren Josey, KBI’s new PR person. Deanne has a background in broadcast media and recommended HARO for brands who’d like to contact journalists looking for stories. I reviewed my bonus presentation on Social Media tips and tricks. Brands had a lot of questions about the most effective ways to promote their kombucha business.

Tasting competitions that elevate kombucha

Lindsay Barr from Draught Labs Flavor Maps shared how the kombucha industry could learn from how craft beer recognizes brands with Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards.

SYMBIOSIS Magazine and BreweryDB

A final panel of the event featured Hannah Crum, Lori Bolin from BrewLogix, and me. We discussed the collaboration that led to the creation of SYMBIOSIS Magazine. Lori announced the opening of their popular BreweryDB listing to kombucha brewers scheduled for October 5. This website already drives over a million visitors a year to craft beer taprooms. Kombucha brewers worldwide will be able to promote their taprooms on the site. They can educate consumers about their ‘booch’s flavor profile, ingredients, nutrition information, organic status, and key product attributes. They can promote their brewery, mission, and unique story, and drive traffic to their taproom.

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