Tucked away in a large industrial building Oceanside, stainless steel tanks are filled and taps are ready in a 400-square-foot nautical-chic tasting room. But there is not a drop of craft beer on-site.
Coastal Craft is producing a different type of craft beverage: Kombucha.
Kombucha is a fermented tea touted for its health benefits. Naturally rich in probiotics due to the fermentation it undergoes, it contains various forms of healthy bacteria that help aid digestion and promote a healthy immune system. It’s also a source of antioxidants and vitamins, such as vitamin B, which is linked to boosting energy. Typically made with black or green teas, kombucha is lightly effervescent, and slightly alcoholic due to the fermentation — though you won’t catch a buzz from sipping it.
Most people are initially drawn to kombucha for these benefits, including Coastal Craft Kombucha founder Rachel Rappa. Rappa, who grew up leading an active lifestyle in Long Beach, started incorporating store-bought kombucha into her diet to help ease digestion issues nearly seven years ago.
An artisan at heart, Rappa previously operated an organic baked goods company before opening the brewery. On her sister Celina’s advice, she signed up for an hour-long kombucha making class in the summer of 2013 and started producing her own “Behind the Bed Booch” in, you guessed it, her bedroom.
Over the next two years, Rappa’s kombucha gained a following and was being sold at health food stores and at Long Island farmers markets. Growing up, Rappa’s family owned a restaurant that instilled a love of customer service and hospitality. Matching that passion with the growing popularity of her kombucha, Rappa opened the Coastal Craft Kombucha brewery in 2015. It’s the only kombucha brewery on Long Island and supplies stores across the island with the popular beverage, including several North Fork purveyors.
“Coming from a hospitality background, having a direct relationship with the customers in the tasting room is important,” she said. “Allowing them to get a peek behind the scene makes the experience more of a connection.”
Head brewer and co-owner Daryn Stoger of Island Park joined Rappa in 2016 and the two are now producing hundreds of gallons of organic kombucha inspired from the original home brew recipe — “Behind the Bed Booch” is not on the menu.
Although the health benefits were the first reason Rappa started drinking kombucha, flexing her culinary creativity by crafting new flavors with Stoger is a central focus.
“We both have an affinity toward good food and drink, so we take the approach to brewing kombucha is that, yes, it is healthy, but it’s crafted for enjoyment,” Stoger said.
Coastal Craft Kombucha has six staple varieties, plus one or two seasonal limited releases. Offerings include the Lemon Earl Gray, a citrusy, dry kombucha with earl grey tea, green tea and juniper berries. The most popular seller is the fruit-forward, brightly colored Berry Hibiscus made from black and green tea, hibiscus flowers and blueberries.
Stoger sticks to all organic teas, herbs, spices and flowers to make the kombucha, occasionally adding in organic fresh-pressed juice.
In addition to the Oceanside tasting room, Coastal Craft Kombucha can be found across North Fork at Brekky and Solntse Hot Yoga and Barre in Wading River, Moustache Brewing Co. in Riverhead, Mattitaco in Mattituck, North Fork Doughnut Co. in Mattituck and The Market in Greenport, among others.
It is also sold at farmers markets in Long Beach, Babylon Village and Sea Cliff.
Coastal Craft Kombucha, is located at 3567 Lawson Blvd in Oceanside