Café Outfitter: Fermentation Frenzy

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[B]y now you’ve probably discovered that your customers love kombucha. If you don’t have it on tap in your café, you might pour it from a local brewer’s growlers or make it easy with ready-to-drink bottles. In the world of fermented drinks, there’s much more than kombucha at your disposal. As demand for refreshing, healthy tonics made with tea, herbs, and living cultures grows, more companies are bottling those elixirs, a boon to beverage businesses looking to diversify.

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1. KEFIR Verve Coffee Roasters and Dr. Kefir in Santa Cruz, California, are pioneering bottled kefir soda—made from tibicos, a dairy-free bacteria— with a line of addicting probiotic sodas that includes rooibos, elderberry passion, tangerine, and yes, coffee.

2. DRINKING VINEGAR Genki-Su revamped this ancient beverage, a Japanese drink dating back to feudal times, by combining Asian fruits and herbs with honey, stevia, and coconut vinegar. The result is less acidic than kombucha, fruity, and naturally sweet.

3. SWITCHEL Switchel, or haymaker’s punch, is a quenching drink made with apple cider vinegar, sweetener, and flavoring of choice. These aren’t fizzy or probiotic like kombucha, but they have a similar acidity. Ginger is a popular addition, or citrus. Both flavors are available from Up Mountain Switchel, a small-batch maker in Vermont.

4. KOMBUCHA Kombucha’s modern heyday has left it well placed for experimentation. Where once brews were simple, fruity, and sweet, now you can find freaky flavors like Health-Ade Kombucha Beet, which is earthy, tart, and sweet in equal measure.

5. COFFEE Tea isn’t the only drink to get cultured. Coffee kombucha is definitely a thing, made with cold brew of course. SOMA Coffee-Boocha is made with beans that were sprouted prior to brewing, and promises “less caffeine than green tea” with all of coffee’s antioxidants intact.

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Cory Eldridge

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