I’ve been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to describe what coffee kombucha is like. So far I can only come up with this:
It’s like being slapped awake whilst simultaneously being caressed in velvet, while also being given smelling salts at the same time as having a hot water bottle gently placed on your tummy and being told how special you are.
If I sound deranged and confused then welcome to the blog, this must be your first time here. But yes, coffee kombucha would best be described as an acquired taste. Once acquired however, there is no going back.
So what is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented, mildly effervescent drink most commonly made from black or green tea, probably originating in China but now available commercially worldwide. Similar to water kefir (see here for the kefir recipe and information on fermented foods in general and their benefits) this is a drink that feeds the microbial culture with sugar. With kombucha the drink is made with sweetened tea (or in our case coffee) and a SCOBY.
The SCOBY is a curious thing. It looks revolting yet is an absolute marvel of natural engineering. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Despite sounding like a villainous cartel from a bad budget Bond movie, it’s the powerhouse of the fermentation process, the SCOBY forming a gelatinous layer, or biofilm, on or near the surface of the liquid being fermented.
And these SCOBYs aren’t just for fermenting either. Excess SCOBYs have a plethora of other exotic uses, from cosmetics to sushi, from pet treats to jerky. You’ll notice that the SCOBY will take on the form of what ever container it is growing in. This wonder has now become fully utilised in clothing and footwear, whereby the SCOBY can form a seamless substitute for leather.
So where does one obtain a SCOBY from?
The SCOBY is a living, growing thing. Over time it will produce new layers of biofilm above the existing one. These ‘Baby’ SCOBYs (Ahhhh) are often surplus to requirement for the home fermenter, so your best option is to cosy up to someone already making kombucha.
If like me you are still eagerly awaiting some kind of Tinder app specifically for finding other fermenters, fear not. You can buy as many SCOBYs as your heart desires online today, from suppliers such as Happy Kombucha.
Packaged up SCOBYs should easily last 12 months so there is no need to panic about using them immediately. It will also come with some kombucha liquid that will act a kickstarter for your own batch.
Once you have obtained your SCOBY you can begin. The recipe below is for about 4-4.5 litres of coffee so adjust to the amount that suits your needs.
And you’re not restricted to coffee either. Kombucha can be made with a number of drinks. Our favourites are Rooibos (Redbush) and Lapsang Souchong tea.
But it’s important to note that once you have used your SCOBY for coffee you won’t be able to use the same SCOBY for tea, just more coffee kombucha batches.
- 1 kombucha SCOBY
- 200 g raw cane sugar
- 4 litres fresh coffee
- Thoroughly clean your fermenting jar (I use a kilner type jar with a tap).
- Brew up your coffee. I like to make it with filtered water to reduce the amount of chlorine etc in the water which could affect the fermentation. I use a caffettiere/french press that makes approx. 1l (X 4 obvs). Pour it into the jar.
- Measure out 200g of raw cane sugar and dissolve in a little filtered water. Add this to the coffee.
- Let the mixture cool down to room temperature.
- Add the SCOBY and cover with a tightly woven cloth and secure with string or an elastic band to stop insects from getting in and ruining the brew.
- Leave this to stand at room temperature out of direct sunshine for about 7 days. From this point on you can taste it daily to see how palatable it is for you. The longer the fermentation, the stronger the flavour.
- You can stop the fermentation when you've reach the desired palatability by transferring it to clean bottles and storing it in the fridge. Depending on the temperature when fermenting, you will probably find that warmer weather will speed up the process and cold weather can slow it right down. The kombucha will keep in the fridge for several months but at some point you will find it has turned into vinegar. Fear not! Kombucha vinegar has many uses so don't chuck it.
- Save some of the kombucha, along with the SCOBY which can now be used to create your next batch.
Once you have reach your desired state of fermentation enjoy your Kombucha. Don’t heat it up if you want to cash in on all the gut health benefits as the heating process will destroy much of the microbiota.
As with all new things, take it easy at first, drinking a small amount. If you are unused to fermented food you could experience less desirable effects.
How much sugar is left in the Kombucha?
This can vary quite a lot. Whilst the bulk of the sugar has gone in to feeding the SCOBY and fuelling the fermentation process, some sugars will remain. This is definitely worth noting. Just because something has health benefits doesn’t mean it is 100% healthy. Commercial Kombuchas will often contain a lot of sugar, mainly to make them more palatable to consumers.
Homebrew will likely have less depending on how long it is left for. Generally, the longer it ferments, the more sour and the less sugary it is. Fermented kombucha may be around 2-6g of sugar per 250ml, less than a quarter of the sugar in orange juice. So if cutting out sugar is important, be mindful. And if you really want to know how much is in your batch you can use a refractometer.
I love drinking this as a morning shot of gut-loving goodness. I like it pretty sour and the combination off bitter coffee, tangy sourness, and mild sweetness is the perfect zing to start my day. It’s also the perfect addition to a chocolate protein shake to create those mocha vibes.
So that’s coffee kombucha. Sour, slightly fizzy cold coffee. What’s not to like?
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