First, decide whether you want to make Kombucha Tea or Kombucha Beer.
The equipment required is similar, but the necessary paperwork and fees differ greatly.
Beer and any product with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 0.5% or higher are regulated by the TTB.
Juices, Kombucha Tea, etc., on the other hand, are regulated by the FDA and usually your local Agriculture Department.
Zoning regulations and distribution methods also vary. I will discuss the differences further later on.
Regardless of your choice, the most challenging part at the beginning is determining how many bottles you plan to sell.
Bottles translate to cases, cases to barrels, barrels to fermenters, and everything ultimately determines your profits.
You may also want to consider fermenting other beverages besides Kombucha.
Oftentimes, with the same equipment, you can make Ginger Beer, Probiotic Soda, Cold Brew Coffee, and Nitro Coffee. These options only take 2 days to produce (and can be sold for as much as Kombucha Tea). By capitalizing on your equipment usage, you can diversify your offerings and even consider co-packing for other local brewers. This allows you to benefit from larger, more efficient, and automated equipment, reducing production time and costs while generating extra cash.
Each Kombucha Fermenter can likely handle 36 batches per year, assuming an average fermenting time of 10 days. As for the number of different Kombucha flavors you offer, that can be decided later. The key factor is the total projected volume.
Please note that each Kombucha Fermenter can also be used for fermenting Ginger Beer, Probiotic Soda, Cold Brew Coffee, or Nitro Coffee during its “off-time.” Each non-used Kombucha Fermenter can handle 180 batches per year. Now, let’s discuss the size of your fermenter.
Kombucha Micro Brewery
A Nano brewery is defined as a brew house with a capacity less than 3 BBL (barrels).
Considering cost factors, size, and other concerns, our projections are based on a 6 BBL semi-automated Brewery.
The following information serves as a guide for determining brew-house size and potential gross sales.
Please note that these values are only illustrations, and all percentages will vary depending on various variables.
A rough estimate shows that raw materials will likely be your cheapest cost.
For a 3-6 BBL semi-automated brew-house, equipment costs amount to approximately $15,000 and up.
Supplies and distribution expenses will be your greatest recurring costs, which depend on your business plan.
What size brew-house do you require?
With each BBL (31 gallons) fermenter doing 36 ferments per year (36 BBL), you can produce an average of 10,000 servings (12 oz) of Kombucha annually.
For Probiotic Soda, each BBL (31 gallons) fermenter doing 180 ferments per year (180 BBL) can yield around 59,000 servings. The same applies for Cold Brew Coffee.
Distribution is crucial.
Where do you plan to sell your Kombucha? Will it be at farmers’ markets, vendor carts, roadside stands, events, fairs, stores, restaurants, pubs, or taprooms? Will you package your product in bottles, cans, kegs, barrels, or growlers? Each option involves different costs.
Selling wholesale to stores is the least profitable.
Store cold shelf space usually takes up to 30% of your profits.
Distribution costs range from 20% to 35% or more.
In many countries, small brewers are allowed to self-distribute, which can more than double your profitability. However, distributors often serve as necessary connections to gain access to store shelves and secure better product placement. They also handle pick-up and delivery.
Selling kegs to pubs and restaurants yields around 50% profit.
Farmers’ markets and street vendors provide approximately 60% profit.
Personal kegging for events brings in around 75% profit.
Running your own taproom or pub offers the highest returns at approximately 90% profit.
Most entrepreneurs combine multiple distribution channels and are always looking for new opportunities.
The more you sell, the more equipment you will need. More production requires additional labor.
Initially, most start-ups handle everything manually and fail to account for their hours or pay themselves for their efforts. This is not a good practice. Even with full automation, a brew-house remains labor-intensive, and a profitable business necessitates skilled labor.