Small Business Spotlight - Lupa's Kitchen
Small Business Spotlight - Lupa's Kitchen
To celebrate Women Small Business Owner Month (October), our spotlight is on Lupa's Kitchen, the brewery of Lupa's Kombucha, where its owner and Doraville resident Claire Irie shared the following with us:
Lupa's Kitchen was originally founded by my mom, Lupa Irie, who is considered one of the original kombucha brewers in the States. When she started back in the early 1990's, we were living in Jamaica in the West Indies where she was introduced to "Booch"; as you know, kombucha has become very popular especially over the last 7-8 years, during the time that Lupa was developing her culinary skills commercially. She taught Kombucha brewing and expanded, making cereals and other natural wholesome treats. It quickly became overwhelming and moved from her having a small clientele for her products, into the shelves of the local health food stores, eventually expanding into Whole Foods. By this time, I had been working with her and we joined together to bring high quality Kombucha to a commercial operation.
She has passed on her traditional methods to me and retired to pursue her cookbook and her artwork with flower pressing and stained-glass work, hobbies that she had no time for during the rapid growth and expansion of the newly formed Lupa's Kitchen company. She remains active with input and some of her foods that she still produces in small amounts for her family and friends. I now have full responsibility for operations and brew today for the community. In 2022, almost ten years later, we have created what is known as Lupa's Booch Kombucha, which has been a beautiful experience for both of us. Working with family isn't the easiest but it is definitely the most rewarding when we are in sync.
We produce one of the tastiest kombuchas around! It is not only easy on your palate but low in sugar. For those who have not tasted it yet, kombucha is a natural probiotic, fermented tea which is traditionally a low sugar drink, also known as the tea of longevity for all its benefits. It is known to help with digestion, and possibly detoxify your liver. Although personally I just find it very refreshing. It's a great alternative to the high-sugar sodas/light beers that are commonly offered.
Kombucha has been around for centuries. Its origin is in 221 BC in China. However, every culture has its version of a fermentation drink and it’s been amazing watching the growth of the kombucha industry all over the world. I like to share that Lupa's Kombucha is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle, especially if you are starting out with small changes with better food choices. I wish more local restaurants offered it as an option. "I'd love to connect with some restaurants, and other retailers in Doraville, so they can start offering Lupa's Kombucha, a local and delicious low-sugar alternative drink for their customers. If any restauranters are reading this, lets connect."
Lupa, my mom, was first introduced to "Booch" when a friend sent her what is called a SCOBY or the Mama which produces the fermentation process to the mixture. My mom's a naturopath and a holistic person by trade, which aligns perfectly with who we are as a company today. Fast forward to 2012, she launched Lupa's Kitchen in Doraville and during that time, we did sprouted foods (foods that contained seeds like buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds). It was 250 square feet place where she started from that we quickly outgrew! We expanded to a location off New Peachtree Rd and then in 2021 to a warehouse also in Doraville. The journey has been amazing!
Lupa's passion has always been about healthy food, so it was a natural progression for us to end up producing kombucha commercially as a life mission. It is a fun business, first manufacturing cultured foods and then, Lupa's Kombucha just took the lead and exploded into its own success! I always tell my mom that cultured food got us where we are today, launched our company, and paved the way for our product. Now, in the present economy, all we produce is kombucha. We are so blessed to have the continued opportunity to brew for the community in which we live.
When it comes to brewing kombucha, every brewer does their own method. The cool thing about how this industry has grown is that you can see different styles and recipes emerge. We, for example, use organic green and black tea and what we make basically is a sweet tea! We keep it very traditional, adding cane sugar, and delicious fruit purees for flavors, fermenting for a time to check the level of alcohol/pH until it is absolutely perfect! I should explain that Kombucha does have a small amount of alcohol due to natural fermentation but is controlled carefully to meet guidelines established and is considered a "soft" drink rather than a "hard", although, it is something that, if you are into a sober lifestyle, is a great substitute and, since it actually helps to detoxify your system, for some it may even be a good way to maintain this lifestyle. I would like to point out that not all kombuchas are created equal; just as the same as it cannot be said that every gluten-free product is healthy for you. So, take your time and read the nutritional panel in the container because some kombuchas are very high in sugar. Lupa's Hibiscus Kombucha only has 45 calories and 8g of sugar per 12 oz and the Ginger Turmeric has around 3g of sugar!
We have four refreshing favors: • GINGER TURMERIC KOMBUCHA: a blend of organic ginger and turmeric that produces a relaxing flavor enjoyed by all palates!• PASSION FRUIT KOMBUCHA: a bold blend of passion fruit and lemon that makes a perfect refreshing drink!• RASPBERRY KOMBUCHA: a perfect combination of organic kombucha culture bursting with organic raspberry flavor!• HIBISCUS KOMBUCHA: smooth, tangy mixture of organic hibiscus and lemon, resulting in a mind-blowing kombucha-tasting experience!
We were one of the first companies to start canning kombucha when commercially, it was always in an amber colored bottle. Then, an opportunity came with a festival in Tennessee called Bonnaroo. We started thinking about how to sell booch and make it environmentally friendly and people-friendly at festivals. And that's where the CANS came in, and that changed our life. You can take cans anywhere; it is easy to ship and has less of a carbon footprint.
After we started, soon other companies started canning too, and today most of the folks in this industry are using cans. Plus, I think cans are friendly for people if they don't want to drink alcohol. I touch on that because saying you don't drink can be stigmatized when people say, "oh, you don't drink?" But people can pull out a can and feel part of the group by drinking a booch. Also, it is important to point out that Lupa's Kombucha is not considered a "hard" booch, due to its rating and is all-ages friendly.
My mom always had this gift of making healthy food and drinks that taste good. Like I always say, "to be healthy, it doesn't have to be challenging it can be a refreshing journey"!For Doraville locals, you can find Lupa's Booch Kombucha at the Buford Highway Farmer's Market or contact them at: lupaskitchen.com for a location near email@example.comVisit them at any of their social media channels.