The headquarters for Bucha Buena is an adorable-looking cottage in a residential neighborhood on Bend's west side. Behind the adorable home that looks just as cozy in Bend as it would in the Shire is the production facility. It's a converted outbuilding/garage that now has fermentation tanks, brewing tanks and growing hops, all helping facilitate the ever-growing business of Bucha Buena. This isn't just a kombucha facility, it's an urban farm.
Owner Brooke Moore initially started Bucha Buena in her kitchen, making small batches for her family and friends. "I was like everyone else when they start out home brewing kombucha," says Moore. "My batches were getting bigger, my friends were loving it and eventually I thought I'm going to make a business out of this! I really had no idea what I was getting myself into but here I am. Two years into it, things are going pretty good and I have learned a lot!"
Once Moore outgrew her kitchen, she recruited local brewer Brit Nelson (from Deschutes, Boneyard and more), and Bucha Buena started dialing in recipes and expanding its palate.
"Kombucha seemed like the next thing for me" says Nelson. "I'd been doing beer for so long and Brooke had just brought this to my life. I'd never dealt with kombucha before. But it's great. The creativity is coming back. I've brewed RPM forever and Mirror Pond and Black Butte and it gets old because it's just a production thing. But with this it's always different."
Bucha Buena is one of those young companies that isn't quite synonymous with Bend yet, but everyone seems to be talking about them. Especially now that they're releasing Hooch Buch, a hard kombucha aged in oak barrels. I was very easily talked into trying an early sample of some the Hooch pre-aged—very belly warming and delicious.
As many of the smaller businesses in Central Oregon can attest, starting and keeping a business profitable in Bend is becoming harder and harder. "The first huge challenge we faced was finding a commercial kitchen," says Moore. "Rent is crazy. That is the first struggle for anyone trying to start any kind of food and beverage business. That's why we're in here. We thought, hey, maybe the city will let us build our own brewery."
Nelson chimes in: "We like to think of ourselves as a micro craft brewery more than a mainstream, nationwide thing. We're trying to do for kombucha what the micro industry did for beer. If you look around, more and more people are doing it."
Their main stipulation for brewing in a residential area is that they can't be open to the public. "Which makes sense," says Moore. "That would cause a traffic issue. Plus, we thought, 'Sweet, we don't want to do that anyway.' Plus, if you lease a place for $2,000 a month you have to use that building every second of the day to make it work. I feel lucky we were able to build here. It's all about finding that sweet spot. How much kombucha can we make in here and make money but not grow out of it? That will be another big challenge."
Judging from how delicious the Hooch Buch and other kombuchas I tried were, Bucha Buena is going to be the next Boneyard or Deschutes or Humm. It's only a matter of time.
Contact owner Brooke Moore for more information firstname.lastname@example.org