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Vancouver Farmers Market vendor SOMA opens taproom that’s open all day, every day

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SOMA Kombucha Taproom Manager Savannah Lowe fills a growler with kombucha. The self-serve taproom is open 24 hours a day.
SOMA Kombucha Taproom Manager Savannah Lowe fills a growler with kombucha. The self-serve taproom is open 24 hours a day. (Photos by Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

SOMA, a popular vendor at the Vancouver Farmers Market, opened a 24-hour kombucha bar several months ago in Uptown Village at 2407 Main St. SOMA’s products were available on tap at Arnanda Naturals, which formerly sat in the same space.

Jean-Pierre Parent, owner of SOMA, said he felt the space was a natural fit. All of SOMA’s taprooms have a theme. Parent chose India in the year 2400 as his design inspiration for the new Vancouver taproom. Everything in the recently renovated space is reclaimed or reused. The table is made with used bottle caps and all the appliances are second hand.

Aqua accents and plants fill the room along with bar seating and some couches. At the back sits a refrigerator filled with bottles of SOMA products as well as eight taps with kegs of kombucha and clean bottles in various sizes for customers to fill.

The tap list is updated every Wednesday on SOMA’s website. A recent list included lemon ginger kombucha, original kombucha, blueberry ginger kombucha, and orange cardamom kombucha with 5 mg of CBD. Kombucha with CBD sold well at the Vancouver Farmers Market.

“They love the CBD kombucha in Vancouver, not so much in Beaverton,” said Parent.

Grape Rii also appears on the tap list. SOMA’s Rii is made with a group of probiotics called Tibetan Crystals due to the crystalline shapes they form in solution. According to SOMA, Rii assists with a variety of health conditions including digestion, hormone regulation, and allergies.

Another unusual item in the taproom is colloidal silver — a drink with microscopic particles of silver suspended in the solution. Parent’s mother introduced the family to kombucha and colloidal silver in the 1980s while they were living in Ohio.

“Mom made kombucha during the hippie peak of kombucha making in the 1980s,” said Parent.

According to Parent, customers who don’t like kombucha are drawn to SOMA for its lack of vinegar flavors due to a long fermentation process. “Ours is really user friendly. A lot of people tell us they hate kombucha but they like ours,” said Parent.

SOMA’s Vancouver taproom is occasionally staffed but set up to be self-serve. Parent signed up with a Swedish web-based app called Honest Box to create a system for customers to let themselves into the taproom and pay for items by scanning a QR code and creating an account. Customers can unlock the door to the taproom and pay for their items once they have an account on the web-based app.

Parent tried this self-serve app-based model in Portland, but the state of Oregon shut it down. He thinks there are many benefits to a 24-hour, self-serve space. “People have to be mature and regulate themselves. This is the opposite direction of the world right now. Things are dumbed down and people are treated like children. I want to put more energy into people being treated like adults,” said Parent.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha, or kombucha tea, is a fermented, lightly effervescent and sweetened black or green tea, sometimes with flavoring or spices added. Fans of the drink says it has health benefits, but such claims haven’t been scientifically verified.

Soma Kombucha in Vancouver

2407 Main St., Vancouver. Open 24 hours a day. somakombucha.com

He also likes the idea of having a late night sober space for customers.

“A lot of people go to a bar because it’s the only thing open. This gives them another option,” Parent said.

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