Capital Kombucha bubbly over growth
D.C. own kombucha producer, Capital Kombucha, is growing, thanks in part to a recent $20,000 investment from the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF). The funds have helped the ‘booch bottler bring on four new employees, two of whom were part of D.C.’s Department of Employment Service’s Project Empowerment, a transitional employment program where DOES subsidizes workers’ salaries as they learn skills on the job.
“We converted two of those [positions] once their six month [subsidized positions] were up,” says Andreas Schneider, cofounder of Capital Kombucha.
WACIF is an D.C.-based nonprofit that provides small businesses in the area with advice, classes and funding. “WACIF helps companies that are right at the cusp of being ready to work with larger banks,” Schneider says. “They create bridges.”
Schneider and his team have used the money from WACIF to help produce kombucha, a fermented drink with a fervent following in certain health circles. Capital Kombucha, which relocated its operations to Union Kitchen more than a year ago, produces nine different flavors of the tea-based drink (up from five a year ago), including the once-seasonal Cherry Blossom. It’s now available year-round, Schneider says, due to customer demand. A tenth flavor—peach—is seasonal, and should be available beginning in June, depending on how local peach crops fared over the winter.
In addition to adding employees and flavors to its rosters, Capital Kombucha’s distribution has grown as well. “We were in 30 stores last March,” Schneider says. “Now we’re in more than 110 stores from Northern Virginia up to Philadelphia.” Some of those retail outlets include all local Mom’s Organic Markets, eight sweetgreen locations and a growing number of Whole Foods locations.
Last weekend, Capital Kombucha partnered with D.C. Brau to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Glen’s Garden Market in Dupont Circle. “We put our strawberry kombucha with their ale and kegged it up,” says Schneider. “It was basically 3 percent beer with strawberry kombucha flavor.”
A partnership with a brewery isn’t the only one on his mind. “We’re thinking about a larger funding round with private investors,” Schneider reveals. “We’re in the early, exploratory stage.”
This article appeared in the Elevation DC, April 23, 2014