Last October, John Paul “J.P.” Franklin embarked on a new hobby brewing batches of kombucha, a non-alcoholic fermented tea beverage, in the garage of his Solana Beach home.
Eight months later, he and his wife, Kate Franklin, are sitting atop a fast-growing soft drink mini-empire. They’re the co-founders of Mightybooch, a line of raw, organic sparkling kombucha drinks now being sold at more than a dozen North County stores and available for home delivery by subscription. The drink is made from a mixture of fermented tea, fresh fruit and botanical ingredients.
The 12-ounce bottled beverages, priced at $3.99 apiece, come in five varieties: raspberry lemonade, apple turmeric, spicy ginger, California citrus and Super Berry. They’re sold by the bottle in more than 20 locations, including Cardiff Seaside Market, Baker & Olive in Encinitas, Cuppa Juice Juicery in San Marcos, Bottlecraft and Station Sushi in Solana Beach and many other locations. The drinks are also available on tap at nearly a dozen local restaurants, bars and coffeehouses, including Barrel Republic in Carlsbad, Valentina in Encinitas and all Dark Horse Coffee locations.
To go from the first test recipe to full-fledged company in a matter of months may seem an unusually fast jump, but Mightybooch is the result of a long-brewing idea the couple had to start their own business.
The Franklins moved to California from their native England in 2003, with the intention of staying for only one year. But they fell in love with the area and settled in Solana Beach, where they are raising a 13-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.
For 15 years, J.P. worked at the San Diego Reader alternative weekly magazine, serving as its general manager. Kate, 44, worked in the field of product branding with clients including Campari and Skyy Vodka.
J.P., 42, enjoyed the process of home brewing but he doesn’t drink alcohol, so making home batches of craft kombucha allowed him to experiment on a product that he could enjoy. As soon as he started making kombucha, he was smitten.
“It was a great something else. I loved it immediately,” he said. “When everyone else was drinking a cocktail, I could drink kombucha and feel like I was having something special. As well as producing a product full of natural probiotics and amino acids, we loved the idea of offering people a healthy alternative to both sugar-laden soda and alcoholic drinks.”
Last year, he left the Reader to focus full-time on brewing for their fledgling company named Mightybooch. The name is inspired by a wacky British comedy show called “The Mighty Boosh” that ran on the BBC from 1998 to 2009.
“It’s an approachable option for people who don’t think they like kombucha,” Kate said.
The first bottles of Mightybooch were sold in November. It started out as a subscription service that delivered weekly recyclable 32-ounce growler bottles to customers’ doorsteps. By the second month, they doubled production to keep up with demand. They’re now brewing about 800-gallon batches of kombucha. As the business grew, they began bottling and marketing the product in stores.
In April, they moved to a new production facility in Oceanside that’s capable of producing 10 times the amount they started out selling in November.
This week the fledgling company got an added boost when San Diego Magazine readers voted Mightybooch the county’s best locally brewed kombucha brand in their annual poll.
“We’re trying to make kombucha accessible to everyone,” J.P. said.
For information on Mightybooch and locations where it can be purchased, visit drinkmightybooch.com.