Kombucha – whether you are new to it or already a big fan, it is a fact that it is becoming more popular in Europe by the day. It is a pure, unpasteurized soft drink that basically consists of tea, cane sugar and water. In 2016 Tom Vollebregt founded YAYA Kombucha, an Amsterdam-based kombucha brewery, together with his girlfriend Charlotte. Little by little they are conquering the Dutch and European market with the delicious drinks. What is the story behind YAYA Kombucha, and how does this contemporary company serve customers at home and abroad? And how do Tom and his team ensure that the kombucha arrives fresh at its destination – also abroad? Tom told us all about it.
Introduction to kombucha
A few years ago, Tom traveled all over the world as a Global Brand Marketer for a major sports brand. During a trip to America, Tom noticed that in Wholefoods a lot of products are refrigerated in the supermarket – much more than in the Netherlands. “In addition to the well-known soft drinks and beers, I found ‘functional beverages’ on the large refrigerated shelves: drinks that are not only tasty but also do something for you. There were about 30 different brands of kombucha in all kinds of different flavors. I had never seen this drink before – despite my passion for different food and drink cultures. I had to taste that!” Tom says.
And Tom didn’t let go of the taste of the sour drink. But back in the Netherlands he couldn’t find it anywhere. “After some research, I found out that you can make this drink yourself quite well. Kombucha has been made and drunk for over 2,000 years. In some cultures it has even been sold as an ‘immortality tea’,” Tom says enthusiastically. “I bought a kombucha scoby on ‘marktplaats’ (a Dutch platform for used goods) and I started working with a basic recipe at home. First in batches of 5 liters, which me and my girlfriend then took to work in small bottles. The reactions from colleagues were very nice, which made us even more enthusiastic.”
Our own kombucha brewery
“When I tasted a very dirty kombucha in France, I thought: this can and has to be done better. I did some research and found out that American Kombucha breweries were all run by young, hip, healthy, sporty people. This was what I wanted to do. I believed in the concept, and I started developing flavors and building a brand together with my girlfriend Charlotte,” Tom explains.
“We presented our kombucha to 30 buyers and catering businesses, of which 29 were wildly enthusiastic. So we set up our first brewery. The offtake volumes were much higher than we expected, we just kept scaling up. In the past three years we have scaled up and moved no fewer than three times: where we started with 1,000 units per week, we now produce around 30,000!”
Sustainably chilled shipping
You can find YAYA Kombucha at retailers such as Ekoplaza and the AH to go, but you can also order this drink on many terraces. In addition, YAYA Kombucha started selling through their own webshop during the lockdowns.
“Through our webshop we sell much more than we expected. We also have customers outside the Netherlands, and we also regularly send samples to customers abroad. Because kombucha is an unpasteurized soft drink with live yeasts and bacterial culture, it is important that the drink is kept well refrigerated. Within the Netherlands we use ‘same day delivery’ and the products are only out of the refrigerator for a short time, but this is a challenge for international transports of a day or two. Fortunately, Coolpack helped us safeguard the cold chain with a suitable packaging solution.”
For international shipments via the webshop, the kombucha is now sent in the EcoCoolBox, an insulating packaging box made of partly recycled cardboard with an insulating wall filled with paper fibres. An environmentally conscious shipping packaging with a luxurious look that can simply be disposed of with the old paper after use. It is not for nothing that he has been awarded an NL Packaging Award. “In combination with gel packs, the kombucha remains refrigerated throughout the transport period. The EcoCoolBox is so well constructed that you can use it even longer and it has a professional appearance. For us, he just communicates the right things. And it’s great that they can always be delivered quickly by Coolpack,” says Tom.
Kombucha: a pure, honest soft drink
What Tom and Charlotte are all about is making a tasty, pure soft drink. A ‘clean label product’ with organic basic ingredients, which gets its taste through fermentation. “Kombucha is a super pure product, especially if you compare it with other soft drinks that often get their taste chemically. We go for a local, honest and above all very tasty drink,” says Tom.
At Coolpack we are now big fans of this tasty drink with its rich history. We definitely recommend that you try it for yourself! Check out the entire range in the webshop and learn more about YAYA Kombucha at www.yayakombucha.com.