THE HISTORY OF ROOTS KOMBUCHA
Roots Kombucha was started by two doctors – not real doctors, but academic ones. Matthias and Nick met in Uppsala in 2008, where they both studied at SLU (the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences). Years later they moved in together in an apartment in Malmö. In this apartment they spent a lot of time brewing beer, fermenting vegetables, making sour dough bread, and … yes … kombucha, which Nick had been drinking since the last millennium. It is in this shared apartment that the idea of Roots Kombucha developed.
The business started in a very small scale, mainly focused on selling kombucha on markets. In early 2015 the Roots Kombucha brewery moved in to its current location at Mitt Möllan in Malmö.
THE PEOPLE BEHIND ROOTS KOMBUCHA
Nick loves bacteria, both in theory and practice. He is a doctor of microbiology and can tell you everything you wonder about microbes. If you don’t wonder, he will teach you a bit anyway. Nick does not only love kombucha, but everything that has to do with fermentation. Of course he ferments vegetables. He also ferments milk into kefir for his breakfast every morning, and sour dough into bread. To close the loop he is also really into composting. He collects the coffee grounds from his job and uses the finished compost to fertilize his garden.
Two more things about Nick that deserve to be mentioned are that he has
- been told that he reminds people of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
- been1 the best2 wrestler in New York State
1 between Febrary and October 1999. 2 among high school students in the 65 kg weight class
Matthias is a doctor of industrial-environmental-economical-something-sciences. Anyway, he keeps the numbers straight. That might sound boring, but to be fair it is not very hard to keep Roots Kombucha’s numbers in order. Matthias also engages in many things he can do moderately well, such as building homepages and designing labels. It is an underestimation to say that Roots Kombucha owes a lot to the country of Austria and the work ethic that it fostered into this short but very capable man.
Matthias makes marvelous apfel strudel and is well-travelled – he has lived in London, Manchester, Vienna, Brittany (France) and Istanbul before be found himself ROOTed in Malmö.
Right from the start of Nick and Matthias’ business adventures, Elin, who is Nick’s wife and a journalist by training, was with them to help them communicate with their customers. Without Elin, Nick and Matthias’ rudimentary Swedish skills would have made it difficult at times to get Roots’ message of quality and taste across. Over time Elin’s role grew from "language police" to an integral part of Roots of Malmö’s operations. Nowadays she focuses on communication and marketing, but she also continues to keep an eye on what Nick and Matthias say and write and makes sure that none of their really bad jokes reach their customers.
One could say that Roots Kombucha's and Johannes’ relationship followed a loooooong romance. Johannes and Roots have known each other since he got in touch with the founders Nick and Matthias to ask them for a SCOBY, which they happily supplied. Ever since they have kept contact, discussing kombucha recipes and other fermentation interests. In spring 2016, when Roots needed more hands, Nick and Matthias called Johannes, and Johannes was up for the challenge.
Johannes’ interest in fermentation has not only led him to Roots of Malmö, it has also led him to the craziest of experiments! (No, Johannes, we will not make Cola-kombucha … for now.) For Roots, Johannes is an investment in our future; after all he even has the license to drive a big-ass truck to deliver our kombucha if necessary!
Omar fled the war in Syria. His journey was a long one, carrying him through Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Italy, Austria, Germany, and Denmark to Sweden. When Roots met Omar, we were immediately taken by this ingenious young man. Omar has since become an integral part of our operations.
In Syria and Jordan, Omar worked with machines from another Swedish company called Tetra-Pak. Furthermore, Omar is an incredibly attentive person who will pick up on things without the need to ever explain them to him. All of these attributes have made Omar a very valuable part of Roots of Malmö. Also, what would the brewery be without all the Syrian radio theatres that are now playing whenever Omar gets his hands on the computer!
Basel is also from Syria, and like Omar he fled the civil war there. He came here with his parents and his siblings and takes great care of all of them. Basel’s job at Roots Kombucha involves bottling, packing, labelling, and riding the "Kombuch-o-mobil" (our cargo bike) around Malmö to deliver kombucha. He does this with a frenetic energy, at the same time as the left side of his brain is just as active. Basel has a talent for languages, and a genuine curiosity for Swedish words, grammar and sayings. There is no detail to little for Basel to wonder about when it comes to Swedish. Unfortunately we must admit that his questions might be more intelligent than our answers.
In the summer of 2017 we realized that we finally needed help with sales, customer relations and marketing. One of the applicants was a mother of four that had earlier sold golf equipment. From golf equipment to kombucha is a far stretch, we thought at first, but once we had met Johanna we were convinced that this cool, friendly and well-organized person would be just as good at selling kombucha as she was at selling golf equipment. Her first good deed was to teach us the term CRM-system (Customer Relationship Management), which both we and our customers are grateful for. Johanna has a passion for food, health, and ecology, and a garden with massive amounts of kale.