Rawish employee Anastasia Litvina in the kingdom of kombucha.
A photo: Andrey ABRAMOV
– Guys, how are you? Are you swimming?
Questions technologist Andrey Kulikov addresses the contents of five-liter jars. Medusomycetes bathe in leavened-colored liquid. That is, tea mushrooms. They stand in orderly rows on the shelves, like soldiers’ boxes on parade. Our answer to all stakes is kombucha (see KP Help).
Pepsi and Coca-Cola have been trying to sit on two chairs for five months. Either they defiantly leave Russia, or they are allegedly looking for buyers for their business or are considering outwitting the world: leave the factoriesbut pour soda with other names on them.
There is a shortage of freedom-flavored drinks in stores and restaurants. Obviously, they are selling off the remnants of the released batches. And in some cities they noticed Coca-Cola, imported by parallel imports from Kyrgyzstan.
What will we drink? The KP correspondent fulfilled the dream of children of the 90s (and Soviet ones too) – to spend a day at the Rawish plant, where they make soda. Also kombucha, ale and tonics.
“FOR THE BEAVER HATS”
The workshop was equipped at Khlebozavod near the Dmitrovskaya metro station. 50 thousand bottles of drinks are poured per month.
— We do not cover even 1% of the needs of Muscovites. In summer, the demand for our products alone is 10 times higher than what we produce. And the rest of the drinks are drunk 1000 times more, – argues Rawish CEO Anton Kamilov.
Rough arithmetic: in order to drink Moscow, you need 50 million liters or bottles of soda, kvass and other waters – and this is only for one summer month. For comparison, the Coca-Cola plant in Istra produced 171 million liters of drinks per year, and all ten plants in Russia 2.84 billion liters.
Anton is 35 years old, he does not look like a stereotyped director of an enterprise. You will meet such on Patricks, you will think: the tattooed rake. But in communication, the complete opposite: erudite, hardworking – you have to be both a driver and a loader of your drinks, the production is young.
Anton and his business partner worked as bartenders. They compare themselves to a shoemaker without boots, that is, a bartender without his drink.
– The bar was in Moscow City on the observation deck. Who is coming there? Beaver hats from the regions. They want to see something native, natural in the capital. We decided to make kombucha. What Russian drinks do we have: kvass, kissel and kombucha. People are not ready to pay more than 50 rubles for kissel. Kvass – only in summer. What remains is kombucha. But if you show it to a person and offer him a drink, he will screw up his face. And here’s the kombucha…
Technologist Andrey Kulikov knows how to perfectly brew tea in a huge vat to feed a thousand wards of jellyfish.
A photo: Andrey ABRAMOV
MUSHROOMS-EMIGRANTS BECAME MUSCOVITES
The bartenders bought their first kombucha from their grandmother near the Kolomenskoye park. Investments – 100 rubles. The medusomycete was named Valerik. Valerik was fed cheap tea. It turned out something sour.
– It turned out that “tea with an elephant” does not fit here. Began to buy from Taiwan. Peach and honey notes appeared in the drink. It took a year to create the recipe. The whole apartment smelled of grandmother’s socks! Anton recalls.
In the workshop, the truth now smells of something similar to lying socks.
Kombucha was sold at the bar, she won the competition of tea masters. The guys understood: it’s time for business.
– When serious production began, we did not have enough mushrooms of our own. By that time, Valerik had already been propagated many times and still not enough. They ordered from the USA – there companies are engaged in the professional cultivation of medusomycetes. Now we use their descendants already in the fourth generation. So these are real Muscovites!
NO ONE REMEMBERS HOW MUCH A COLA IS
Rawish makes 16 drinks in different flavors: kombuchas, tonics, non-alcoholic ales, lemonades. A plant is being built in Stupino near Moscow. In order, in business terms, to have time to occupy a niche after the departure or weakening of transnational companies.
Gendir says: they have 85% Russian product. Equipment – Chelyabinsk, juices from the Krasnodar Territory. Imported only tea and some ingredients like yuzu juice – a hybrid of mandarin and lemon.
The drink matures in a jar from four to seven days. After that, fruit and berry juices are added to it and poured.
A photo: Andrey ABRAMOV
– There is no quinine (cinchona bark, ground into flour, gives the tonic that very taste – Auth.) in Russia. The first time had to be smuggled out of China. It was very expensive. At that time there were no certificates for these products. For some reason, the import of the ingredient has not been put on stream in Russia. Now we have settled everything, we legally import it.
— What about Schweppes and others? They also produced a tonic in Russia …
– There is no quinine in the composition, flavoring additive.
– Now large factories are competing, who has the most plausible cole replacement succeed.
– Dead end road! Copying will do nothing. Imagine if Apple made feature phones like Nokia 15 years ago instead of making a touch screen phone. How would it all end? Everyone thinks that making a perfect cola copy is cool. But Coca-Cola is not sold by its taste. For decades, it has been put into people’s heads – through the image of Santa Claus, support for sporting events. Marketing will disappear – the product will be forgotten. By inertia, at first they will buy, and then … No one pays attention to how much Coca-Cola costs on the shelf now. I’ll tell you: a bottle has long exceeded 100 rubles.
That’s what life-giving marketing does!
IF THE SODA IS NOT COLOR AND DOES NOT Sizzle, THEY WILL NOT BUY IT
Anton, as an expert, names three favorite drinks of Muscovites. These are cola, kvass and Soviet lemonades – tarragon, barberry, pinocchio.
We made dark ale. Our marketers pitch it as a replacement for cola, but we don’t think so ourselves. The taste is rather reminiscent of Baikal. Initially, the drink is transparent. I had to add sugar color dye (caramel – Auth.) To make it dark in color. The consumer’s perception is clogged. Clear drinks are not well received. We also have to add carbon dioxide to kombucha. Kombucha is already carbonated, but the consumer has been taught: the drink should be highly effervescent,” says Kamilov.
While there is a lot of manual labor in production. The guys are building a serious plant in the Moscow region in order to have time to occupy a niche after the big players leave the Russian market.
A photo: Andrey ABRAMOV
WHERE YOU SELL KOMBUCHA
At first, the company sold its drinks only on the Internet and in bars. Advertised through social media. Now we have banned large social networks. The Moscow plant is negotiating with retailers, that is, supermarkets familiar to us.
– Getting online is easy. Selling is difficult. You will be placed on the bottom shelf. We tried to enter Globus and Miratorg. Wherever our drinks went. The best places in refrigerators are bought by the largest manufacturers. Networks earn up to 50% of revenue just on advertising products and selling places. We tried to avoid this path, but we also had to go on the net.
How kombucha is made commercially
Tea is brewed in a vat with sugar – oolong or pu-erh varieties. The drink is poured into individual jars, where a “pancake” of kombucha awaits it. Bacteria feed on sweet tea for 4-7 days. It turns out kombucha, to which various juices are then added.
The fungus rests for a couple of days. In order not to die, they leave him some tea. Once in several cycles, the mushrooms are taken out and washed. One medusomycete in industrial production lives up to six months. In the meantime, the body is young and healthy, pieces are plucked from it and propagated.