What inspired you to come up with the idea for OK Boocha?
Well, actually it wasn’t even my idea! I bumped into a mate of mine that used to make coconut yoghurt and I was involved in brewing beer, and he said ‘I want to make a Kombucha, do you want to get together and have a crack at it?’. I meet him at the Noosa Festival of Surfing, he’s also a surfer and passionate about the environment, he said lets have a go at it. We went to his single car garage in Sunrise Beach and made our first batch, and went from there!
How long has your business been operating now?
Totally about 5 years, but the first 2 years were just on tap. I was living in Kin Kin at the time, and our very first store was the Black Ant Gourmet. I drilled a hole through their fridge, put a tap on and stuck a keg at the back and it’s still there, the same tap. We started initially from kegs, using refill stations and did that for about 2 years before going to packaged product. At one stage I think we had about 35 kegerators.
Is there a story behind the name OK Boocha?
OK stands for Only Kindness. The idea behind it is to be kind to your body and kind to the planet. We try to carry that ethos through the whole business, so if something doesn’t feel right, we don’t do it.
There are 3 key important things to us: Sourcing locally, environmental friendly with low carbon footprint, and healthy for your body.
Can you share a fun fact about Kombucha that not many people would know?
Some people may know this but SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Without a Scoby it’s not Kombucha, it’s just tea.
What makes OK Boocha different to other Kombuchas?
I can’t give away too many secrets! But a key feature is that we slow ferment it at a a colder temperature, so off the back of my brewing background I’d compare it more to a larger. While ales are top fermenting at warmer temperatures, lagers are cleaner and crisper bottom fermenting over a longer period of time in colder temperatures. We take at least 28 days, sometimes slightly more to ferment OK Boocha. We also align with Australian Native flavours.
How was Sunny Coast Water introduced as part of the OK Boocha family?
We were dealing with Markris wholefoods up in Noosa at the time, and they came to me and said ‘Scotty if you can put water in a can, we’d be interested’. So we toyed with OK Water initially, and then rebranded to Sunny Coast Water. The water itself is Spring water sourced locally from Mount Beerwah. Ironically, still water has actually been one of the hardest to work with! There has been a lot of challenges to get still water into a can. But what we have now is pure delicious water in a can that we are all pretty chuffed with!
What has been your biggest learning over the past 5 years?
Not to rush into things, and not get too big too quick. We’ve grown organically and it’s even really just the last 6-12 months that we’ve had deep growth. Good things come to those who wait...
Favourite drink that you produce?
At the moment I can’t stop drinking our OK Sparkling Water. They contain probiotics and essential oils and are all zero sugar. The lemon myrtle and lime one is a particular favourite - on a hot day I just drink those, they’re easy and refreshing.
What are you watching?
I’ve recently just got through the first 4 episodes of Boy Swallows Universe, it’s mad. And it’s based on a true-ish story out of Brissy which is cool.
What you listening to at the moment?
We just got back from Woodford Folk Festival, and I got to see some great bands. We stayed for the first time as seasoned campers for the full 7 days. We watched The East Pointers throughout the event, they’re really cool, my kids got into them too.
What’s your favourite place to dine or drink in Noosa?
Bang Bang is one that my wife and I go to on our anniversary. Also Rasa on Gympie Terrace, really good food, and BYO.
Can you recommend some hidden gems around Noosa for traveler’s?
When the swell’s not big, we like to grab our goggles and snorkels and swim around the headland on the northern end of Sunshine Beach. There’s a somewhat ‘secret’ little beach and cave you can swim into. It’s an awesome part of the world, the national park is pretty special.
Do you have any favourite outdoor activities that you enjoy in your free time.
I enjoy spending time surfing or just being in the ocean, we’ve embraced the outdoor, active vibe here.
Are there any travel experiences that have had a notable influence on your career?
We use to spend a lot of time in the Seychelles. My dad was a surgeon and did reconstruction surgency for the government, we’d have a 2 week holiday twice a year, and we did that for 20 odd years. They were almost quite communists at the time, they never had any outside brands, just their own beer and their own soft drinks. The bottle itself was worth 1 rupee, the drink was worth 2. You could walk along the beach and collect bottles, then run to the café and buy yourself a soft drink. The whole concept of reusing and recycling influenced me when it came to creating a business where you want to minimise the waste of packaging, without impacting the environment too much. It was an interesting way to grow up looking at packaging.
We did a lot of research and cans to us are the most sustainable option. They are infinitely recyclable, and they are lightweight to move/ship. Something like 70-80% of aluminium ever mined is still in circulation.
Are there any collaborations you’re working on?
Helping kids make healthy drink choices is important to us. We sponsor a couple kids that surf and skate, mostly junior kind of stuff.
We have Chiggy’s Skateboarding around the corner from us, and sponsored the Coolum Boardriders at a Surf Competition recently. It’s great to see a lot of kids are more than happy to drink Kombucha or the zero sugar OK Sparkling Water. If you can get a kid early on to incorporate healthy drink options it’s great.
What can we expect from you at Noosa Eat & Drink Festival this year?
We’re really excited about it, we’re a local brand and I think it’s almost an obligation to be part of it, because it’s on our doorstep.
We don’t do a lot of marketing, doing local events and cross promotion is our preferred way to get our brand out there. It’s a great opportunity for us to be a non-alcoholic option, and obviously for the water too.