May 01, 2017

Jarr Kombucha: The UK’s Most Exciting Food Entrepreneurs

By Zoe Perrett

With fermented foodstuffs and eating for wellness all the rage, Hackney Wick-based Jarr Kombucha was onto a very good thing indeed – and it’s exactly this that happened, a fact attested to by Harrods, whose prestigious shelves now bear the brand’s distinctive glass bottles. Going from a great product idea to having it feature in Harrods is no small feat. It clearly shows London is a fantastic city from which to start such a trip (and if you’re bold enough to take that first step yourself, take a look at our commercial kitchens for license here).

Brand founder Adam Vanni hails from California; a state where the lightly-sparking fermented tea is on tap pretty much everywhere you go; including gas stations. Accordingly, it seems only right that he was one of the beverage’s first champions here in London.

It took a while to get the production process right – as with good craft beer, kombucha is notoriously tricky to perfect – but Jarr finally nailed it with a product that’s just right in every respect: not too fizzy; not too sour; and, once you’ve caught the ‘booch bug, utterly irresistible.

Jarr shares its East London manufacturing unit with CRATE Brewery; allowing the tap room to add sparkle to its menu with a dedicated range kombuchas sold both neat and made into cocktails which feature Original, Ginger and Passionfruit varieties blended with locally-made spirits, juices and botanicals.

Not only are Jarr’s cocktails unique and delicious, they’re quite possibly the healthiest way to get drunk – and that’s because of kombucha’s seemingly-endless health benefits. It’s well-known that fermented products benefit gut health, but this particular probiotic-, vitamin-, enzyme- and nutrient-rich, low-sugar beverage is also thought to have the potential to increase energy, stabilise blood sugar, and even help the drinker retain their youthful glow.

Adam isn’t just the perfect poster boy for his product; he’s also got the brains of a brilliant businessman…

Five minutes with Jarr Kombucha’s Adam Vanni

What inspired you to make kombucha?

Coming from California, the epicentre of the ‘booch’ craze, I’ve always been a huge fan, and my friends – now business partners – were equally as obsessed. So we decided to be bold and dive right in.

We recognised an opportunity to introduce kombucha to the UK, positioning it as a healthier, more functional, and much more delicious alternative to unnecessarily sugary soft drinks.

What were the biggest challenges involved with getting Jarr Kombucha up and and running?

Making basic kombucha is pretty easy; making amazing tasting kombucha is not. To achieve the latter, we spent an entire year sourcing the best organic tea we could find, finally settling on a blend of organic Oolong and green tea sourced directly from two single estates in Taiwan and Sri Lanka.

When it came to water, we purchased a filtration unit that we customised to deliver a precise flavour and mineralisation. The right sugar is also critical, so after much experimentation, we settled on a very specific type of Brazilian organic cane sugar.

Hardest of all, though, has been the process of nurturing and developing the right environment for our SCOBYs (Symbiotic Cultures of Bacteria and Yeast – the living cultures used to ferment the tea in kombucha-making). We’ve gone to great lengths to ensure they are healthy and happy.

How are you planning to take Jarr Kombucha to new heights?

Scaling up a kombucha operation is a delicate procedure. You can’t simply outsource production; nor can you just decide one day to quadruple output.

As a small company that prides itself on attention to quality, flavour ad detail, we’ve nurtured our tanks one by one until they were healthy and tasty enough to yield product.

Now that we’re up and running, our ultimate goal is to bring kombucha to the mainstream consciousness in an effort to change unhealthy UK drinking habits. From opening Europe’s first kombucha taproom to offering the first of many kombucha masterclasses in the UK, we’ve created a platform for spreading the word – and we’re well on our way.

Which stockists has Jarr Kombucha gained listings with?

We’re fortunate enough to already be working with some of our dream stockists. When it comes to premium retailers, Harrods and Soho House were always firm favourites, and we also aimed to supply Planet Organic, Whole Foods and Sourced Market from an early stage.

We can’t make unlimited quantities of kombucha so we’ve always tried to be stocked in the right places rather than spreading ourselves out too thinly. Jarr’s also now sold at Frame, and via various other independents throughout London.

We love working with people who really care about flavour and are willing to take a chance on something new and exciting.

Where else can people get a taste for Jarr Kombucha?

If you fancy trying it fresh from the keg or in a cocktail, we also serve Jarr Kombucha on draft at our bar and taproom in Hackney Wick, East London – as well as on board CRATE brewery’s canal boat, the Alfred Leroy.

Greatest accolades for your company thus far?

I would say launching with Harrods, which I used to visit with my family when I was really young. I remember being in awe of everything sold there, so it’s pretty surreal to see our bottles in the food halls.

Also, Boy George tweeted about our kombucha on Twitter a few weeks ago!

Who would you most like Jarr Kombucha to collaborate with?

We always thought our kombucha was the perfect mixer for cocktails, so when The Artesian’s Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale reached out to us, we were blown away. We’re now in the process of developing a special blend for their Pour symposium in Paris this summer.

As a bit of a success story, any wise advice for people looking to start a business in the artisan food industry?

Find or develop a product that moves you and make it your own. Don’t follow in other’s footsteps; be bold, do something crazy, shake things up, shock people. Be your product’s biggest champion, and forge strong, meaningful and genuine relationships with your coworkers, suppliers, and customers

To find out more about Jarr Kombucha, click here 

Follow Jarr Kombucha on Twitter @jarrkombucha

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