Scotland Means Business: Left Field Kombucha fermented drinks

Featured in The National newspaper

IDENTIFYING a gap in the market for a healthy alternative to alcohol, husband-and-wife team Geraint and Jo Roberts set up Left Field Kombucha to manufacture kombucha tea, a raw, fermented cold drink with an unexpected fizz made from fine loose leaf tea. The firm soon became the first kombucha brewer in the UK to have its drinks on draught next to craft beer. The company is now looking to expand into Europe and the US.

Name: Jo Easingwood Roberts

Position: Co-founder

WHAT’S YOUR BUSINESS CALLED?

Left Field Kombucha

WHERE IS IT BASED?

Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders

WHY DID YOU SET UP THE BUSINESS?

WE were looking for healthy alternatives to alcohol, such as non-alcoholic drinks to have with dinner.

We had an existing interest in fermented food and drink. Geraint is a former beer brewer[who worked for Sharp’s Brewery, of Doom Bar fame, in Cornwall, under renowned brewer, Stuart Howe. We are interested in the natural, the authentic, in fermentation, and everything in between.

We’re also interested in flavours and food and drink in general.

When we set up we found there was a huge gap in interesting non-alcoholic drinks at the bar for adults, which could also be healthy.

Everything out there was so sugary, and was adulterated by flavourings or spices. Inspired by beer brewing and fermented foods we wanted something natural that was wholly better for us.

We also wanted an alternative to an alcoholic drink or coffee which still packed a real, feel-good punch … and we found kombucha.

We have always been tea lovers anyway and the chance to develop something using only the finest teas was just too hard to resist.

WHERE ARE THE DRINKS STOCKED?

BARS and restaurants across the UK such as the David Bann vegetarian restaurant and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant, both in Edinburgh and Roots, Fruits & Flowers in Glasgow.

It is also on draught in bars including Six Degrees North – the largest tap bar in Edinburgh – as well as in the Scottish Borders, Kent and Northumberland.

HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM COMPETING BUSINESSES?

OUR kombucha offers a full fermented experience akin to having a beer so you don’t feel short-changed as the soft drinks guy. We make a serious draught offer on the bar.

As a soft drink alternative it is low in sugar.

We don’t add fruits or spices to our drinks – most kombucha brewers add other flavourings to it.

We use only the finest teas which are ethically sourced.

As it focuses entirely on the tea you get that flavour and it matches with food. Not many soft drinks can claim this.

For example, we just collaborated with Colstoun House and cookery school in East Lothian to create a four-course kombucha pairing feast, with all courses matching a kombucha which we have never seen before.

WHAT IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?

PEOPLE who are drinking less for any reason such as healthier living and nutrition. Also people who are looking for something other than low or no-alcohol beer or wine.And those who want a serious adult soft drink.

More than one-quarter of young adults don’t drink alcohol, according to Office for National Statistics data released last year, and are looking for interesting alternatives.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT RUNNING THE BUSINESS?

WHEN we’re talking to people who enjoy our drinks and absolutely get why we have made them. We also enjoy developing the business together. It does mean it is a challenge to switch off but sharing the passion for what we create is great.

WHERE DO YOU HOPE THE BUSINESS WILL BE IN 10 YEARS?

Australia and the US is where kombucha is a completely mainstream product available everywhere from supermarkets to high-end bars. Europe is forecast to go the same way and we want our kombucha to be alongside craft beer in the UK.

We are proud to be a Scottish company and want to grow and export as an important part of the Scottish food and drink sector, as a healthy and innovative drinks option.

For the full article please go to The National newspaper website.

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