Quality Over Quantity: scaling a values-based, craft business
Back in the early days of Boochcraft, production was small; we were a team of three. As we prototyped our early recipes, we would flavor the kombucha exclusively with hand-juiced organic fruit and freshly steeped herbs. There’s something you should know about Adam, Andrew, and me: we are connected by one simple but fundamental value: Just Eat Real Food. As we moved from prototype to production, there was never a thought to do anything but scale up the original juicing and steeping process. Naïve? Absolutely!! But ignorance is bliss, so on we went.
"Shouldn't be too hard to juice 30k bbls worth of apples... right?"
When we launched in March of 2016, our annual production capacity was 1000 bbls or ~13,500 cases. It’s four years later, and we produced that same amount just last week. Needless to say, it’s been a wild ride full of pivots, hair pin turns, and crossroads. These crossroads came with complex choices regarding process efficiencies, cost reductions, and our values. For us, these complex choices are simplified when we view them through the lens of our purpose: creating a sustainable connection between business and wellbeing. We’re on a mission to use capitalism for good by working directly with organic farmers, educating consumers on topics like greenwashing, and giving back to the planet by supporting non-profits like Kiss the Ground and Regenerative Organic Alliance.
We seek our produce out from farms that share our values. Lucky to work with families like the Masumotos, who've been growing stone fruit for generations in Del Ray, CA. We bought a stone fruit juicer and had it shipped in from Italy so we could work with their legendary peaches.
Both as a business and as consumers, one of the last true votes we have left is where we choose to spend our money. Who are the businesses and people we choose to support? There’s a compounding effect downstream with the businesses they in turn choose to support, rippling down the supply chain. These are all things we consider when sourcing ingredients for current and future recipes.
Supply chain transparency in our case means lots of farm visits, which we all consider a great benefit.
I can’t begin to explain how much simpler it would be to source ingredients and scale production if we used purees, extracts, or concentrates. Every year around August we are unable to procure enough grapefruits to keep up with the demand of our flagship flavor, Grapefruit Hibiscus. In order to compensate for the short supply of fresh fruit, we are forced to increase production through June and July to bridge the gap. There are a multitude of nuances that arise from working with real food, seasonality, and perishability, but our outstanding and tirelessly dedicated operations team welcomes the opportunity to work together and create solutions to these unique challenges.
We invested in juicing our fruit on-site, which means we're surrounded by beautiful produce (like these blood oranges!) every day. It's not the easy way, but we're confident that our product is better for it.
I’m often asked, “If you had it all to do over again, would you change anything?” When it comes to values-based decisions, cutting corners isn’t an option. Doing things the right way, even when it’s more difficult, expensive, or operationally challenging (and sometimes it’s all three) is at the core of being a true craftsman. We take pride in being makers and crafting a beverage that we are proud to offer to the world.
That fruit slice on our cans and cartons means so much to us because of the work that goes into maintaining the "fresh pressed" standard.So no, if we had it all to do over again, we wouldn’t change a thing. Todd Kent CEO & co-founder, Boochcraft