There are practices and habits from our lives that makers are constantly trying to improve. AND WHAT ABOUT FUN? HERE’S KOMBUCHA!
We’ve all been there: after a night out with friends we feel the effects on our bodies after one too many drinks or a little bit too much to eat. These slight indulgences make a big difference in the way we feel the next day. There are countless startups that deal with this problem, looking to launch products on the market that taste good but are also healthy and promote digestion. In Canada, the United States and the UK, the latest trend among these is undoubtedly Kombucha, a fermented tea-based drink that originates in China.
The compound is derived from the symbiotic process between yeast and bacteria: as fermentation begins, yeast turns the sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The remaining microorganisms transform the remaining liquid into cellulose, a substance that allows the growth of the kombucha itself by forming the gelatinous mass which then becomes the starter for a fermented beverage. Kombucha is thus the result of a fermentation process that produces a refreshing, effervescent beverage with a very low alcohol content.
Unsurprisingly, Kombucha has been consumed in China for centuries, known as a ‘prodigy’ beverage capable of ‘balancing energy’ and given the nickname, ‘the fungus of immortality’. In fact, Kombucha is rich in anti-oxidants which lowers free radicals in oxygen, one of the key factors in cellular aging. In addition, the ‘prodigious’ beverage strengthens both the digestive and immune systems and eliminates toxins, making Kombucha one of the most sought after products in food systems innovation and production. Once you add the possibility of mixing Kombucha with different fruits or spices, there are limitless possibilities to what you can create. The potential for creativity makes this an ideal product for Food Makers, as they can experiment with combining new fermentation techniques with traditional methods. The market for these products is vast, as more consumers are concerned with their health, and the appeal for a high quality alcoholic beverage that also has tons of health benefits is manifest.
They articulate the difference between startups developing products adapted to different consumer markets, and those looking to create 100% organic, sustainable, or locally grown and sourced products. Ethical Soda (Canada), Zip Kombucha (US), LoveKombucha (UK) and HappyLeaf Kombucha (US) are but a few examples of these practices. These young entrepreneurs market themselves as a viable alternative to nutritionally empty or even harmful products, and are even taking on the challenge of supplying healthy foods to people suffering from diseases like diabetes, hemorrhoids, and sclerosis. Of course, Kombucha is not just about the finished product, but the process and materials that go into making it for yourself. Howlinfuse and Kombucha-Shop are two examples of startups selling kits to prepare Kombucha at home, and U-Bruu aims to act as a distributor of Kombucha kits to hotels, restaurants and offices.
Other uses being explored for Kombucha are the development of SCOBY, or “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast”, which is the product from which the Kombucha starter is obtained. Researchers at Iowa State University in the US are currently working on repurposing SCOBY to use it as a textile base, in an experiment similar to what the Italian startup Orange Fiber achieved with scraps from oranges.
In Bologna, Italy, two young talents from the Future Food Ecosystem are experimenting with new Kombucha combinations, and their work is on permanent display at the Scuderia Urban Coolab, a multi-use space in the heart of the city dedicated to food based experiments, food demos and events, and a food hall.
The two students. Francesco Dell’Onze of Unibo, and José della Rosa, of the Basque Culinary Center in Guipúzcoa, Spain, will be on hand at #MFR17 in Rome to discuss their work. They are hoping to study the possibilities of developing new flavors of Kombucha from coffee and chocolate waste. What will their results be? We’ll find out together at Maker Faire Rome, from Dec. 1 to 3 at Fiera di Roma!
The Future Food Institute is partnering with Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0 for the curation of the agritech and food tech pavillon. It is an Italian-based non-profit organization with global horizons that aims to build a more equitable world through enlightening a world-class breed of innovators, boosting entrepreneurial potential and improving agri-food expertise and tradition.