Making Coffee Kombucha - Not Wrong, Just Not Right


Long speculated upon and feared even in anecdotes, a week ago I had the perfect opportunity to embark upon the storied nostrum that is... komffee? Coffbucha? Joebucha? Coffee kombucha. Perfect...


Coffee kombucha Making coffee kombucha; after 6 days of primary fermentation

While open-minded, I didn't think there was any way this could be tasty. Enough people had asked about it, rumors circulated, and it came to the point that this brew couldn't be avoided; of this fact the new office-tap acquisition of Stumptown cold-brewed coffee was the ultimate indicator.


So, I opened up the tap, poured 32 ounces of the polarizing blackness, and added 1/4 cup of sugar to the joe after warming it on the stove. I added a bit of SCOBY, some distilled white vinegar as a starter (1 tbsp), cringed, covered and dated the jar, and set it out to ferment.


After 6 days in primary fermentation, there was a pretty gnarly SCOBY growing:


SCOBY of Coffee SCOBY of coffee

Having a pretty adventurous palate still does not issue into passive consumption. The creation of what essentially is sour coffee made me reticent to attempt making this beast, though I'd thought about it many times before.


Well, I wasn't proven wrong. Sour, acidic, vinegary coffee was the result - I considered the brew complete when I saw the SCOBY and smelled it - pretty awful, on both fronts. I let a couple of people in the office try it before me, still highly skeptical and protective of my taste buds' fortitude.


KBBK employees investigating the coffee 'buch KBBK employees investigating the coffee 'buch


The result of our tasting left us sure that the experiment had worked - coffee kombucha was assuredly the result - but in no way could this be construed by any of us as being something drinkable. Even the small cup we poured and passed around went unfinished.


I bottled it, so as to preserve the train wreck that would in the future be sure to elicit fascination and disgust among unsuspecting subjects - a little carbonation should attract a completely new level of repulsion. Kind of like the time I made apricot-peppermint kombucha.


*We did discover the SCOBY created from this brew was much more palatable than the brew itself.




This experiment behind me, I look forward to better and brighter days. I will try not to forget what happened, only the taste. Be skeptical. It's not wrong, just not right.


SCOBY can't live on beans alone SCOBY can't live on beans alone


13 thoughts on “Making Coffee Kombucha - Not Wrong, Just Not Right”

  • Marina Prada

    hi guys ,cofffeeee kambucha great idea, but wrong aproach; ..don’t give up…i can help. my name is marina,i am a certified raw, life food chef, i studied with david jubbs for over 5 years ,here in ny. i am from colombia, my father was a coffee grower, i know the best away to make the best kambucha coffee ever….. i also know sarna and matheo since 2002′ . last year i tryed your kambucha at pure food, and i like it a me please at 301 300 9491. ps i just move back to ny…it is great to find all this grat ideas for the good of all’. sincerely, life food chef, marina prada.

  • Kombucha on Tap, LLC

    A lot of our clients have cold-brewed coffee on tap and kombucha on tap. Have you guys experiemented with half kombucha and half cold brew coffee or a splash of one in the either? We're thinking that might be the best way to make a komfee.

  • William Donnelly

    MMm have you tried it? what did you think?


  • Brian Clarke

    While this may never be right there were certainly some serious errors with your attempt. Why would you add vinegar? Coffee starts out acidic enough to meet the needs of a kombucha scoby. Vinegar added to this already acidic coffee and the additional fermentation were sure to create an undrinkable product. I have yet to try this process myself but in researching those who have claimed to make an appealing coffee-bucha I have found none add vinegar. Maybe you could try again and let us know!

  • Chris

    Good point Brian! I'll try it that way and update this :-).

  • Sherry

    When I make coffee Kombucha everybody loves it and I’m pretty sure you would enjoy mine as well.

  • Water

    My main question is what type of coffee did you use? A lighter roast or a darker roast. When I brewed it I did a half gallon of a KickAss dark roast made really strong (well, how I usually drink it), but I also made it hot and let it cool instead of doing a cold brew. And I agree with the fact that coffee is acidic enough to create a habitable environment for a SCOBY to live and thrive; there are definitely enough nutrients.

    When I did it I bottled it a bit too late. I bottled mine at 7 days but I should've at 5 for at 5 I had this deep aromatic chocolate flavor that diminished in the two extra days. But this is more than palatable and I enjoy it since it hasn't lost its caffeine content it makes a great afternoon drink without the hassle of brewing a full pot of coffee or making a single espresso.

  • Craig

    Did you try it after a bit of carbonation? Was it any better (doubtful but figured I'd ask haha)?
    I might try to make some Kombucha coffee, like one of the other commenters said, I've also read that it doesn't need any vinegar or starter tea, I can see that making the coffee very...unpalatable to say the least. After your experiment, I have very low expectations as to how this will turn out for me, but I figure I'll try to make it anyways.

  • Chris

    Hey Craig! I did taste it post-carbonation. It was kind of worse - like sparkling vinegar coffee. I'm going to replicate this experiment and not use a starter, and post the results ;-). The SCOBY tasted pretty good, oddly enough. Give it a go!

  • Robert Palmer

    Recently, I helped with the choice of beans and roast for a coffee kombucha -- and it was sublime. Mild, sweet with hints of chocolate and citrus spikes. Where you went wrong: 1. Been choice 2. roast choice 3. choice of heating the cold brewed coffee. Would you make kombucha out of dried-up low-grade orange pekoe and expect it to taste like premium Dragon well? If you are going to make kombucha coffee you are going to need special beans specially roasted for that purpose.

  • Amanda

    I am 4 days into my kombucha coffee brew, and nothing seems to be happening. I really want to make this work, so if anyone has had a good result, could you please share what kind of coffee you used, and what roast? Even what brand would be extremely helpful.
    Thank you!

  • Drew Smith

    I usually make my booch as I normally would. Then when I bottle I drop in a single bean which I breifly set on fire using my stove and tongs. I also add a very small piece of a vanilla bean. This tastes really good.

  • Chris

    Drew - that's a great idea! I'll have to give that a go. Thanks for the suggestion!