Ambra Pirker Grosmaire (’17, Costa Rica) was in her second year at EARTH University when she first tasted kombucha – the ancient elixir made from black tea, sugar, and SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Fermentation transforms the tea, endowing it with gut-healthy probiotics – in addition to its naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and essential organic acids.
Ambra says daily consumption of kombucha as a young adult improved her digestion, energy levels, and immunity. In response, she began to brew the beverage at EARTH’s Guácimo Campus and share it with her classmates.
She also shared it with her mother Nathalie Grosmaire and EARTH alum Samuel Hansen (’14, USA). Together, in 2018, the three built Pacifica Kombucha, a company that has gained popularity in Costa Rica for its high-quality consumables, crafted using raw ingredients from sustainability-focused farms. Little by little, they began to sell their signature kombucha throughout San José, including at Feria Verde de Aranjuez, a bohemian outdoor farmers’ market and community-gathering space for lovers of organic agriculture and non-toxic products.
“As agronomists who graduated from EARTH, we are very focused on our inputs and the way they are produced. With Feria Verde’s help, we have been able to connect with farmers who, like us, are interested in sustainable, organic agriculture,” Ambra says. “Our tea – the base of our kombucha – is imported from Bangladesh by Teatulia, a company that promotes regenerative agroforestry and offers economic-development opportunities to its women employees. We directly grow a portion of our ingredients, such as lemongrass and turmeric.”
Pacifica Kombucha packs its products in returnable glass bottles, which it re-collects from content customers, before thoroughly washing and disinfecting for rebottling. Samuel and Ambra compost all food scraps and actively work to eliminate the need to send any waste to a landfill or an incinerator.
This kombucha crew has gotten in touch with its creativity by experimenting with flavor combinations, such as blackberry thyme and hibiscus lavender. In total, they have devised and marketed more than 200 varieties, always sourcing seasonal produce along with locally available roots, herbs, and flowers.
“Studying at EARTH gave us the knowledge and tools to start a responsible business,” Ambra adds. “Each course in the curriculum has served us over time. The entrepreneurship course at EARTH was especially influential for me because that is where the whole concept of Pacifica Kombucha first took shape.”