Karma Kombucha—Brewer Q&A
Based in: Vernon Hills, IL
Year Founded: 2011
Distribution: IL, IA, WI
Smooth and mellow is how we would describe these brews. The flavors are bright, but not exactly in-your-face. We liked the nice tang of Ginger Orange and Masala Chai had a beautiful spice with a cinnamon-y finish. They’re on the lower-fizz side of the fizz spectrum, and have a subtle sweetness.
We love that each bottle features an illustration of a different animal, along with a description. The Origins flavor, for instance, has a black-necked crane, which is a stunning bird that has been the victim of poaching and whose numbers have declined sharply. Mixed Berry has a red panda on the label. These cute animals have also been victimized by poaching and are disappearing because of habitat destruction and their bushy tails being used for “good luck charms.” Although these facts are absolutely heart-breaking facts, we love that Karma is bringing awareness to the plight of these animals, while simultaneously delivering tasty booch. That’s good Karma, indeed.
We chatted with founder Susan Fink about her start and how a setback became a set-up for her next chapter.
Kombucha Hunter: Susan, how did you first discover kombucha?
Susan Fink: I have always had a strong interest in food and culinary, which led me to the University of Wisconsin where I majored in Food Science. After graduating, I joined corporate America and was fortunate throughout most of my career to have worked on healthy initiatives where I felt I could make a positive contribution. Through one of these initiatives, I was first introduced to kombucha. In talking with consumers, we heard folks, especially 45-65 year olds, talk about the need to detox and eat to live, not live to eat. Kombucha was a solution that was providing them with beneficial results. I starting drinking the commercial brands and quickly became a zealot!
KH: When did you decide to start brewing it yourself?
SF: After reading everything I could get my hands on regarding the science of kombucha, I started home brewing as a hobby. Then fueled by my inquisitive nature, I began experimenting feverishly. It quickly became my passion. Hundreds of gallon batches soon turned into two gallon batches and eventually 30 gallon batches brewed in large pots. Our kitchen was a bit of a curiosity to guests with jars of scoby's everywhere and the faint hint of vinegar wafting through the air!
KH: What pushed you to finally form your own company?
SF: In 2010, I was downsized, which turned out to be a blessing. Conscious Mind Products LLC was formed in March 2011 and Karma Kombucha soon became a dream come true.