Expo East Intro: Coffee Kombucha by Reed’s

Coffee_KombuchaThe kombucha category continues to reinforce its foothold in the beverage industry. After GT’s Kombucha, the undisputed category leader in sales and brand awareness, an emerging tier of kombucha makers keep polishing their brands. Health-Ade Kombucha has boosted its executive team and is already planning its next facility. Kombucha Wonder Drink is now sold in the Northwest at Haggen Food and Pharmacy and Fred Meyer. Kombucha Mama changed its name to Humm Kombucha and entered the Seattle region. Perhaps closer to GT’s than any of those brands is Reed’s, the marketer of ginger brews, Virgil’s sodas and Culture Club Kombucha.

Leading up to this year’s Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, Reed’s has announced the debut of a kombucha mixed with coffee. The product will have its grand opening at the conference and will hit store shelves across the U.S. in the fall.

“The kombucha culture is traditionally grown in a tea base,” founder and CEO Chris Reed said in a company release. “We decided to grow the culture in a coffee base instead and we were excited by the results.”

While the cultures of all other Reed’s kombucha products grow in oolong and yerba maté teas, the latest offering is grown in organic coffee. Reed added that, after dozens of rounds of taste-testing, his team concocted a balanced recipe with a unique flavor.

Reed’s has been one of the most active brands in the kombucha category when it comes to distribution. In January, the company announced a partnership with Manhattan Beer Distributors, a key wholesale player in the five boroughs of New York City and Hudson Valley. Last Thursday, Reed’s announced that its kombucha products are available at Hy-Vee stores in more than 125 locations across the Midwest.

The only other ready-to-drink blend of coffee and kombucha BevNET has encountered is Revive’s “Gold” Kombucha, a collaboration with Blue Bottle Coffee Company, a San Francisco-based chain.

Update: Hannah Crum, the co-founder of Kombucha Brewers International, an organization that represents commercial kombucha makers, tells us that mixing coffee with kombucha is a popular homebrewers technique. She also noted that Fine Feathers Kombucha Co. in Long Beach, Calif., has its own take on the blend through a partnership with Lord Windsor Roasters. They call it “Kombuffee.” That product will hit the market next Monday.