A Day in My Life

Gil­lian Healy pro­duziert in ihrem Dubliner Start-up Kom­bucha. JOHN STAN­LEY sprach mit ihr über ihren Tag und den gesund­heitlichen Nutzen des Getränks.

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Meet a pro­ducer of kom­bucha

My name is Gil­lian Healy and I’m 24 years old. I run a small start-up com­pany in Dublin called Gut In­stinct, and we pro­duce a fer­mented drink called kom­bucha. It orig­i­nated in China around 200 BC and later spread across Asia and into Eu­rope. It’s been quite a big trend in Amer­ica and Aus­tralia for a num­ber of years and it’s just hit­ting Ire­land now.

Peo­ple are be­com­ing more health con­scious to­day, and kom­bucha is very good for your gut. It’s made us­ing a sym­bi­otic cul­ture of bac­te­ria and yeast, known as a “scoby”, which gives you amaz­ing bac­te­ria. Sev­enty per cent of the body’s sero­tonin, for ex­am­ple, some­times called the “happy chem­i­cal” be­cause it con­trib­utes to well-be­ing and hap­pi­ness, is made in your gut.

I first got into kom­bucha be­cause I craved soft drinks, but if I had too many, I wouldn’t feel great and my skin would break out. Then I found that kom­bucha, which has a rather acidic flavour, was a re­ally good sub­sti­tute — though I would say it’s an ac­quired taste. I think peo­ple buy our kom­bucha for two main rea­sons: they’re in­creas­ingly aware of the pos­i­tive con­nec­tion be­tween a healthy tummy and a healthy mind, and they see it as a good al­ter­na­tive to soft drinks.

Ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent for me, but typ­i­cally, I be­gin my work­ing day in the kitchen. Nor­mally, on a Mon­day, for ex­am­ple, I start a new “brew”. I ba­si­cally put wa­ter, tea and sug­ars into our brew­ing tank and then add the all-im­por­tant scoby to it. It breaks down all the sug­ars in the brew­ing vat and releases re­ally good bac­te­ria into the drink it­self, such as lac­to­bacil­lus, and acetic acid, which also con­trib­ute to good health.

Our kom­bucha is dou­ble-fer­mented, with an in­fu­sion pe­riod of seven to ten days be­tween the two brews, which is when we add flavour. So at dif­fer­ent times, I drain off the liq­uid from the first brews and be­gin the in­fu­sion pe­riod for the three flavours we cur­rently have: cof­fee, tea and our ex­otic rose and rhubarb. I also take batches of the in­fused prod­uct and start them on their sec­ond brew, which takes a fur­ther three to five days. Then there’s a busy pe­riod of bot­tling the prod­uct to get it ready for dis­tri­bu­tion.

My favourite part of the process is the in­fu­sion pe­riod be­cause that’s when we get to ex­per­i­ment with new flavours. Ex­per­i­ment­ing is how we came up with rose and rhubarb, our cur­rent best­seller.

When I’ve fin­ished on the pro­duc­tion side, I usu­ally then spend part of my day pro­mot­ing our brand through so­cial me­dia and re­search­ing new sales op­por­tu­ni­ties. We al­ready have a wide dis­tri­bu­tion in Dublin, which I han­dle di­rectly, as well as sales out­side the city, han­dled by a dis­trib­u­tor.

I spend part of most days go­ing out to clients, mak­ing sure the prod­uct is sell­ing well and find­ing out if they’d like me to do a pro­mo­tional tast­ing for them. That’s an im­por­tant side of the busi­ness for us at this stage be­cause it’s such a niche prod­uct. A few po­ten­tial cus­tomers will be fa­mil­iar with kom­bucha, but most won’t, which is why it’s good to let peo­ple see if they like it be­fore they buy a bot­tle.

Ide­ally, we’d like to go into ex­port markets, but I want to get our name es­tab­lished in our home mar­ket first. Eng­land is al­ready quite a de­vel­oped mar­ket, with a num­ber of kom­bucha mi­cro­brew­eries there. How­ever, I think that when we’re ready to look abroad, Ger­many will be one of the first places we’ll ex­plore. Af­ter all, a lot of their foods are fer­mented, like sauer­kraut or pick­led onions.

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