Starting Out: Culture Kitchn, Queens, NY
This is the sixth in the series of Booch News posts telling the stories behind new commercial kombucha brands. The inspiration for ‘Starting Out’ was NPR’s ‘How I Built This‘. Every kombucha company launched their brand in a unique way, and their story has lessons for us all.
Husband and wife Helena and Daniel are the co-founders of Culture Kitchn based in Queens, New York.
They first fell in love with kombucha because it truly changed their lives. For Helena, it improved her overall digestion, and for Daniel, it eliminated his lactose intolerance.
The idea for Culture Kitchn came when they realized, as Asian-Americans, the flavors they grew up with were not on kombucha shelves. So, they took it upon themselves to produce flavors that reflected different cultures, design packaging that playfully speaks to each–and brew the drink in the way they wanted to enjoy. Think Lychee and Yuzu.
Ultimately, Culture Kitchn’s mission is to offer a taste of different cultures–through cultures.
This month marks their first anniversary of being self-employed. After months of debate, Helena quit her full-time job to start a beverage company with Daniel. “It felt like a crazy idea at the time, but I just knew that if I didn’t take the risk now, I wouldn’t later. I had to follow my gut…”
Brewing kombucha started as a hobby in their kitchen. They wanted to build their immunity while having fun experimenting with different flavors and combinations, such as kombucha chia seed jello. After two years of sharing it with friends and family, they decided it was time to also share it with the world. And so the creation of Culture Kitchn began.
The venture had its own set of challenges. Even today, they find stepping into breweries and brewing supply stores intimidating. But, Helena says, “I have to push past the ignorance in a predominantly male industry and introduce myself as someone who isn’t just homebrewing as a hobby or a brand ambassador for some company. If I want to learn how to scale this business, I’d have to put myself in uncomfortable situations.”
One year later, they have brewed over 3,000 bottles, are stocked in 10+ brick-and-mortar stores, and have spoken with thousands of people sampling their product. They’ve learned how to:
- Create temperature-regulated spaces (both hot and cold)
- Adjust a CO2 regulator to get the right PSI
- Handle 55-lb kegs on a daily basis
- Create digital assets on Adobe Illustrator to bootstrap their marketing
“It’s just the beginning, and I have so much more to learn. But five years ago, I would’ve never have thought this was the journey I’d be on.”
The flavors are promoted with a nod to Asian-American culture:
2x Lychee Kombucha. Enjoy while…
- Eating soup dumplings
- Playing mahjong
- Snacking on pineapple buns
2x Yuzu Kombucha. Enjoy while…
- Binging your favorite anime
- Slurping udon
- Indulging on mochi ice cream
2x Apple Kombucha. Enjoy while…
- On a hayride around an orchard
- Snacking on cider donuts
- Wandering through a corn maze
Listen to the podcast hear about Culture Kitchn from Helena and Daniel.