Health-drink company adding location in Roanoke

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Humm Kombucha plans to open its operation in the Star City in 2019.

When health-drink manufacturer Humm Kombucha settled on Roanoke for the site of its second brewing operation, it probably couldn’t have found another place on the East Coast much more like the company’s home base of operations in small-town Bend, Oregon — and that was by design.

Roanoke and Bend are mountain-valley cities with fewer than 100,000 residents, and both are attractive areas for outdoorsy types who enjoy activities like hiking, mountain biking and river kayaking.

“We believe in taking time off and spending time outside and doing what you love, whatever that might be, and we needed to find a place that had those same type of values,” says Humm Kombucha CEO Jamie Danek. “People just love living in Roanoke. … They couldn’t be more excited about where they live, and you have that same experience in Bend. It’s virtually the same.”

Humm Kombucha learned about Roanoke from friends at Bend-based Deschutes Brewery. One of the nation’s largest craft-beer brewers, Deschutes is building an $85 million brewery in Roanoke and recently opened a tasting room in downtown Roanoke.

Expected to open in July 2019, the $10 million Humm Kombucha facility being constructed at the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology will create about 50 new jobs paying an average salary of $39,462 plus benefits.

Humm Kombucha brews a popular non-alcoholic, refrigerated probiotic fermented tea beverage known as kombucha. The drink comes in a variety of flavors such as strawberry lemonade and coconut lime. The company’s product is sold by major grocery stores as well as big-box retailers Target and Wal-Mart.

Locating a brewery in Roanoke on the Interstate 81 corridor will give the beverage manufacturer “much more extensive access to the whole East Coast,” says Beth Doughty, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership.

Humm Kombucha began national distribution a little over a year ago, and the East Coast already makes up about 30 percent of its business, says Danek, who co-founded the company in 2009 with her friend Michelle Mitchell, brewing their first batch of kombucha in Mitchell’s kitchen.

“We’re a bit of a rocket ship,” Danek says. “We’re very fast-moving. The kombucha industry is on fire. … It’s the fastest-growing refrigerated beverage in the country right now.”  

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