Covers Products: Brainiac, Cafe Con Bucha, Controlled Burn, Flowers of Life
Based in North Carolina, Tribucha is a line of kombucha products that are being marketed as “100% craft brewed kombucha.” The company points to a 10-stage brewing and extraction process, which they say allows the products to deliver amazing taste while being free of flavors and fruit juices.
On the surface, Tribucha’s messaging and positioning seems very much like something borrowed from the playbook of craft beer (note: this is not an alcoholic kombucha). The labels are whimsical and busy, while some of the flavor names sound like they could be the names of new IPAs. They are certainly not the first company to try a craft beer approach, but they are the first (at least that we recall) to try this approach using a can. And being completely honest, we wish there was a bit more polish to the label design.
Another thing that’s unique about Tribucha is that the products appear to be shelf stable (the can says “best served chilled”) and the copy is all about “Drinkability” and the product’s “craft” origins. The package is devoid of any callouts for functionality or probiotic content. These two things are still key drivers behind kombucha consumption, so we definitely question how sound this approach is.
While it’s hard to say if there’s any merit to Tribucha’s “ten stage process” being better than what other companies are using, what they’ve created are four unique and enjoyable flavors. These include Flowers of Life (hibiscus, rose, honeysuckle), Controlled Burn (ginger, cayenne, turmeric), Brainiac (rosemary, sage), and Cafe con Bucha (coffee, cinnamon, cacao). All four are very smooth and clean, with the base flavor of the kombucha being quite enjoyable and crisp. Plus,they are very light when it comes to sweetness (9g of sugars per can) and contain 75 calories (per can).
Of the four formulations that we tried, we were most fond of Cafe con Bucha and Controlled Burn. For us, these flavors have the most depth and feel most in line with the category. Controlled Burn has layers of spice from the ginger, cayenne, and spices that they’ve added. Cafe con Bucha, which is made with a host of ingredients, including coffee, cacao nibs, cinnamon, ashwagandha, orange peel, lemon peel, dandelion, and elderberry, is a really well executed pairing of kombucha and coffee that still manages to be light on your palate. As for the other two flavors, Brainiac and Flowers of Life, they are enjoyable, but less assertive and a bit less memorable.
In the end, here’s where we stand on Tribucha: the positioning is unique and noteworthy, but shunning the traditional benefits of kombucha seems like a risky proposition. While we appreciate the desire to focus on drinkability -- and they have done a nice job with the liquid -- we think that they need to reconsider this and refine the design a bit if the company wants to go broad.