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Inspiring Conversations with Jared Gustafson of Kombucha On Tap

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jared Gustafson

Hi Jared, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Our company story started in August 2013 when Deanne joined me on a business trip to Bend, Oregon. I was working at a TV network and Deanne was a news journalist, while I was working, Deanne was able to visit friends she knew in Bend, everywhere she went, she’d see Kombucha on draft in healthy eateries and coffee shops. Deanne had been drinking kombucha in bottles for a number of years but had never seen it on tap in Southern California. Deanne told me what she’d seen around town and introduced me to kombucha on this trip. She sparked the business idea by saying, “I’ve never seen kombucha on tap in Southern California.” I’d wanted to start a business that involved my active, healthy lifestyle. The more Deanne told me about kombucha the more I knew this business was a great idea.

After some market research, we found it was a prime opportunity to start Kombucha on Tap™! Kombucha On Tap™ (KOT) was launched in early 2014 by two people who were brand new to the kombucha and beverage industry. While we had limited distribution experience, we knew we could provide a much-needed service in Southern California by bringing kombucha on tap to places that wanted it. Deanne and I started Kombucha On Tap™ in San Diego, delivering kegs of local kombucha to businesses who wanted to sell the popular health drink on tap to patrons. KOT has grown to include an incredible team of hardworking, healthy-minded individuals. The company is headquartered in Vista, CA, and has a delivery hub in Los Angeles as well to serve the greater Southern California market. The company’s motto is “we drink on the job,” and one of the core values is “people over profits.”

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
All business stories have rough spots. There have been plenty of challenges and “learning opportunities.” Bringing a product to market in a new format was an early challenge. Our suppliers Kombucha’s, are live, Raw and naturally carbonated. The live cultures and types of flavorings added keg challenges. There was a lot of trial, error, trial, success involved early on. 2020 has brought a load of challenges from an immediate reduction of client needs, clients closing down, and holding perishable inventory with fewer clients to move that inventory, employee furloughs then rehire. A 55% reduction in revenue has a drastic effect on a business, especially one in the foodservice sector.

We’ve been impressed with Kombucha On Tap, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Kombucha On Tap™ is a Southern California full-service keg distributor of premium on tap products, including kombucha tea, nitro cold brew coffee, tea and more. As a company, we distribute wellness to businesses and homes, and as a team, we provide amazing customer service to our clients. We are on a mission to make the world a healthier, happier place.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Every year from as early as I can remember, my parents would take me and my brother on a 1-2 week family camping trip to different destinations all over California. It’s the highlight of my childhood.

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Image Credits
Kristin Bradford

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