Plymouth Man is Co-founder of Kombucha Tea Business
As the popularity of kombucha tea grows nationwide, a Plymouth man and his business partner are joining the ranks of local kombucha producers with Nifty Brewing Company.
Justin Lilley and Carmen Buchi are the latest pair to get into the brewing of fermented tea with Nifty kombucha.
“We’ve both been in corporate America all our careers, so we kind of have an idea of how to go about doing things, so we’re like, you know we kind of can figure this out,” says Buchi of their idea to try a start-up business.
Co-workers by day at General Mills, Buchi and Lilley bonded over their love for kobucha tea and decided to try their hand at making it.
“Some people raise kids and have families, we have fermenters and kombucha,” says Lilley.
In June of 2017, the duo launched Nifty Brewing Company.
Now on nights and weekends, Buchi and Lilley are busy with batches of kombucha. It takes about a month or a little longer to brew a five gallon batch.
“Raspberry ginger lemon is kind of like the go-to for a lot of people, it seems very approachable,” says Lilley about their most popular kombucha flavor.
The Making of Kombucha Tea
For the uninitiated, kombucha is a fermented sweet tea with a culture of bacteria and yeast.
“You have a sweetened tea, you ferment that for awhile, add real fruit, real herbs, and you have a finished product,” says Lilley.
As for the product’s taste, it’s often described as a little tart or vinegary.
Lilley says it’s also natural to see a little debris in a bottle, similar to apple cider vinegar.
“That’s part of the natural fermentation process,” says Lilley. “Those are your probiotics. Those are your healthy bacteria enzymes.”
While the drink’s health benefits are still up for debate, the growing popularity of kombucha is undisputed.
At Lakewinds Food Co-op in Minnetonka, where Nifty kombucha is for sale, employee Colin Edmundson has a favorite flavor.
“I would have to go with the white grape lemon,” says Edmundson. “It’s so good.”
Nifty Brewing Company Looks Ahead
As Nifty looks to grow, Lilley says it’s possible the company could add another employee or two before the end of the year.
The goal is to keep growing this business, and ideally, the founders would love to get their beverage into local restaurants and bars.
Lilley and Buchi hope new customers will have the same reaction Lilley’s mom did while unknowingly providing a name for the company.
“She had actually heard of kombucha, and we were surprised by that, and she took a sip of ours and was like, ‘oh, that’s nifty,'” says Buchi.
Bottles of Nifty kombucha sell for around four to five dollars a piece.