Review: KÖE Organic Kombucha
Covers Products: Blueberry Ginger, Lemon Ginger, Mango, Raspberry Dragonfruit, Raspberry Lemon
KÖE is a line of shelf-stable, USDA Organic certified kombuchas packaged in 12 oz cans. Designed to be “fruit forward” and “friendly,” the products are clearly formulated with the mainstream consumer in mind.
Being shelf stable is an approach that only a few kombucha brands have taken and it obviously eliminates the notion of “raw” that many brands are using. To do this, KOE has added Lactospore probiotics (4 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per can) and is quite transparent about doing so. They’ve also made a strong callout for “non alcoholic,” even going so far as to add their own badge for this on the side of the can.
We sampled five flavors, including Raspberry Lemon, Lemon Ginger, Raspberry Dragonfruit, Blueberry Ginger, and Mango. All of the flavors have between 80-90 calories and 19-21 grams of sugar per can, depending on the SKU. As a result, these products are definitely on the sweeter end of the kombucha spectrum and they deliver on the promise of being fruit-forward.
The product also delivers with very drinkable flavors. They are certainly not on the vinegary end of the spectrum and are event more mainstream than most of the established kombucha brands on the market today.
We’d go so far as to say that these products deliver a drinking experience more on par with some of the sparkling tea and tea alternative products, as well as with some premium CSDs out there. This is especially the case with Lemon Ginger, which is not that far off from a high end ginger ale. Other flavors, such as Mango and Raspberry Lemon, will certainly taste similar to iced tea flavors.
Visually, the can is pretty straightforward looking and matter of fact in terms of how it presents itself. The can is white (using a sleeve label) and features large all capital lettering that quickly calls out “organic” and “kombucha.” From there, the product follows a somewhat common approach of large vibrant fruit images, text along the bottom for the flavor name, and a prominent callout for the calorie count. KÖE’s approach is clearly not to try and look like everyone else and the design could certainly translate to other categories beyond the kombucha set.
All of this puts KÖE in a pretty unique position. For those in the industry who have watched the evolution of the category and the development of some of today’s key players, many of whom have a leg up in terms of authenticity and a big headstart in the market, this product represents a different type of commercialized kombucha than what we’ve seen before.
Instead, we see KÖE as a brand that is hedging its bets that the masses (or at least some segment thereof) is ready for kombucha and will ultimately adopt a product that offers a flavor that’s not that far from the drinks they are already drinking. Whether or not this will work is certainly hard to say, but we think that KÖE has done a pretty nice job of crafting something that feels approachable and high quality.