Profile: Aquela Kombucha, Porto, Portugal
Kombucha exists as a vehicle for positive change and it is for this purpose that I share it, so that it catalyzes the discovery of new, healthier and more sustainable paths.Maria Lima, Founder & Owner
Aquela Kombucha is located in the Bonfim neighborhood of Porto, close enough to the center to attract tourists, but equally a place where residents stop by.
On a recent visit to this beautiful city, I met founder and owner Maria Lima and her associate Francisco Costa. Maria launched Aquela two years ago. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the business has prospered on a quiet side street not far from the bustling downtown.
The location boasts Portugal’s only taproom, a compact space with a half-dozen taps where new flavors appear. One of the more recent additions is Manjerico, flavored with a basil-like plant which gives a nice grassy flavor to kombucha. Portuguese traditionally gift these small potted plants as a symbol of love on the June feast days St. Anthony and St. John.
Aquela ferments a mix of green and black teas and uses their own highly acidic starter. They aim for a genuine and authentic fermentation that will still appeal to first-time ‘booch drinkers. Most of their output is distributed in the region to stores and restaurants. Indeed, after my visit I stopped for tea and a snack at the nearby “Two Cats” cafe (O Porto dos Gatos) where, in addition to prowling felines, I saw they carried Aquela.
Maria has established a compact, yet sophisticated, fermentary in the rear of the premises–visible to customers in the taproom. Like many in this industry, she started as a home brewer and consulted with craft beer brewers to select her equipment. Bottling is still by hand, and plans call for an automated bottling line.
Their sustainable business practices include support for planting native trees in the Serra do Alvão mountains, and recycling cloth tote bags, which they print with their logo and sell for a reasonable price in the taproom — ideal for carrying home a case or two!
To hear Francesco and Maria describe the business in their own words, listen to the podcast.