The ‘buch that gives back: how True Büch uses kombucha to reinvest in the community
When True Büch was founded in 2014, it was the first kombucha brewery in Alberta. Since then, they’ve continued to grow and are now selling their bottled kombucha across Canada. This was a big year for True Büch—they were ranked #50 on the 2019 Startup 50 ranking of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies, and they relocated to a new 8300ft2 brewery. Their founders, Louisa and Conrad Ferrel, were also honoured with a Top 40 under 40 Award from Avenue Calgary. We sat down with Samantha Beck, True Büch’s Marketing Manager, to get the inside scoop on all things True Büch and sustainability.
Bullfrog: Since brewing out of the commercial kitchen at the Cochrane Curling Club in 2014, True Büch has really taken off. Can you tell us how the company stays involved in the community as it grows?
Samantha: One of the reasons Louisa and Conrad formed True Büch was to be able to use their business as a force for good. For them, that meant giving back to the community, and reinvesting in programs that are important to them. There are three main areas where True Büch’s profits are reinvested: kids, animals, and planet. We support eight community partners: Mealshare, Orenda Society, HSCA Fresh Food Basket, Camp fYrefly, AARCS, The Alice Sanctuary, TreeEra, and Bullfrog Power. In 2019 we have been able to send kids to camp, pay for a puppy’s surgery, provide healthy nutritious meals to youth in need, plant a thousand trees, and a ton more.
Bullfrog: We’re also big fans of giving back to the community and taking care of the planet. Can you tell us more about how sustainability fits into your business model?
Samantha: From day one, we’ve focused on being as sustainable as possible—and have even woven it into every level of decision-making. For example, all of our sample cups are compostable, we never give out any paper handouts at events, and every marketing item must have multiple uses. This means, our signage is not event specific so we can use it for multiple events. We also use re-usable items such as chalkboard signs so we can write new flavours, messages, etc. whenever we need to!
We also source all our tea from Naked Leaf in Kensington, and we procure most ingredients locally. In addition to that, our brew process is as zero waste as we can make it. All our steeping bags are reusable, and all other items are compostable or recyclable. It’s so embedded in our organization that you can hear almost daily discussions on how to sort our compost and recycling on the brewery floor!
Bullfrog: We’ve heard rumours that you have some special kegs for your kombucha—and that you sell draught kombucha in certain stores in Alberta. Is this true?
Samantha: Yes, our kegs are called corny kegs, and they’re all 90s-era pop kegs! We bought them on Kijiji and we only use reusable kegs. We actually send these kegs off to the stores that sell our draught kombucha and then collect them when they’re empty. We’ve set up our own keg washing station at the brewery to wash and sanitize multiple kegs at once. Our draught kombucha system is zero waste! By using kegs, growlers, and Boston rounds, we diverted almost 200,000 bottles in 2018.
It was important for us to sell draught kombucha because people can reuse their growlers and bottles for such a long time. In 2016 we came out with our single serve bottles, which made us be very mindful of what materials we would use so they could have the highest potential of being recycled or reused. We ended up choosing amber-coloured glass because there is more value in it for recycling, maintains our product to the highest quality, and ideally these bottles can be reused without having the be broken down first.
Bullfrog: True Büch has implemented some admirable sustainability initiatives. Can you tell us about the biggest challenge you’ve had on this front?
Samantha: Our biggest sustainability challenge is definitely water usage. We’re actively aware of this, and our new facility allows us to reduce our water usage.
Also, as a manufacturing company we’re aware that there is a carbon footprint associated with it so we decided to team up with Bullfrog Power. Our sustainability first mindset was also a large motivating factor for our move into our new brewery. It’s a newer building so it’s way more efficient in water and energy usage which is really exciting for us.
Bullfrog: Tell us about any exciting initiatives you have planned for 2020.
Samantha: In 2020 we are working on growing to be available coast to coast in Canada! With this growth also comes new challenges to solve to maintain our commitment to sustainability. We are looking at numerous things from our packing tape on our cases to unique ways for our consumers to engage with us and protect the environment.
Bullfrog: We can’t wait to see what you have in store next! Finally, do you have a favourite flavour of kombucha?
Samantha: My all-time favourite flavour is our Mojito Mint, it makes me think it’s summer all year!
Want to know more about bullfrogpowered beverages? Check out our interview with Emily from Ethical Bean Coffee.