Phil Smith first tried kombucha a decade ago, sampling a batch that his friend’s mom had brewed at home. He fell in love with the “tangy, effervescent flavor.”
So for the past seven years, he’s worked on perfecting his own home brew method, fermenting tea with fresh fruits and herbs to create a crisp, fizzy beverage.
Now he’s sharing those beverages with Tampa.
Alongside business partners Bryan Griffin, 33, and Daniel Andresen, 29, Smith, 30, opened Flower Crown Kombucha at 1607 N Franklin St. in January. The three self-proclaimed “Booch Boys” are friends who met at Radiant Church in Tampa.
Their business occupies the former Foundation Coffee Co. Tampa Heights location.
“Ironically, we wrote some of the business plan here at Foundation Coffee, when they were still in operation,” Smith said. “Back in February of 2020, when they announced that they’d be leaving this location and moving to Ybor, we jumped on the opportunity.”
Flower Crown sells kombucha on tap ($5 for a 16-ounce glass) and in cans ($5.25 each). There also are flights ($8 for four flavors) and take-home growlers ($15 for 32 ounces and $24 for 64 ounces). Four core flavors are always available: Pineappley Ever After, Key Lime Mojito, Pink Passion Fruit and a blend of turmeric, habanero and mango called Mexican Hippie.
Two rotational flavors, such as the Florida Dreamsicle and the Bucs-inspired “Cran-Brady Tombucha,” round out the lineup. Flower Crown also sells two nitro cold brews — Foundation Coffee Co’s original and Ginger Beard Coffee’s peanut butter cold brew.
“We’re a taproom brewery, but it has very similar coffee shop vibes,” Smith said. “You can work, you can read a book, you can meet with friends or have a small business meeting. I would describe it as an ideal situation to work from home.”
To cater to that crowd, drinks are $1 off during a daily “reverse happy hour” from 10 a.m. to noon. The taproom was designed with plenty of space for visitors to spread out, with wide double doors in the front and a garage door in the back to help with ventilation. A courtyard with its own entrance offers additional seating for those who want to drink outside.
“I think we’ve all kind of gone through that phase of just being like, ‘We need to get out,’ right?” Smith said. “But we also know that people still want to do it in a very safe way.”
Meanwhile, the brewing happens above the taproom. Flower Crown sources organic gunpowder green tea and assam black tea from an importer in California. To create their kombucha, tea is fermented using a SCOBY, a much more fun way of saying a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” Flower Crown’s SCOBYs take the shape of large sheets — about 3 feet by 4 feet.
“Our SCOBYs are giant rectangular blankets,” he said. “Basically, you could snuggle under there if you wanted to.”
To ferment the tea, the Booch Boys use six fermenters and a water filtration reverse osmosis system. Once the kombucha is ready, gravity feeds it down into larger cooling tanks to chill. The dip in temperature stops fermentation and allows the liquid to gain carbonation. Then the kombucha heads directly into kegs.
Griffin pointed out that the drink is versatile, fitting into different kinds of lifestyles and social situations.
“It can be a breakfast coffee substitute because it’s got caffeine in it, and it can kind of start your day,” he said. “It’s refreshing, so you can drink it while you’re working or after you’ve been outside in this Florida heat. You can take a can and mix it with your favorite adult beverage of choice.”
Andresen said Flower Crown usually draws two types: the die-hard kombucha crowd and those who have no idea what it is. He was surprised that Tampa, home to a young and health-focused community, didn’t already have a taproom.
“We have a lot of healthy food options,” he said. “We might have to start moving to the healthy drinks options, also.”
In addition to introducing more of Tampa to the beverage, the Booch Boys are excited to offer the space for event rentals. Foundation Coffee Co. stocks their canned drinks, and they hope to break into the market scene and sell their cans at more retailers.
“We really liked the location we’re at, not just because it’s beautiful, but we think there’s a lot of good, rich community in the Heights area,” Andresen said. “We want to be a big player for Tampa Bay.”