4

Cliffhouse Kombucha Brings European Traditions to Colorado

Cliffhouse Kombucha Brings European Traditions to ColoradoEXPAND
Rüdiger Schmidt
^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

When Rüdiger Schmidt decided to bring over a piece of his culture and tradition from Eastern Europe to Colorado, he made it his mission to share kombucha.

The owner of Jamestown-based Cliffhouse Kombucha has been making the fermented-tea beverage for 35 years. It started as a healthy drink he would pass along to friends, and his concoctions were eventually served at Jamestown Mercantile. But everything took off for him when a regional manager of Whole Foods Market stumbled upon the kombucha at the restaurant in the small town near Boulder.

“He contacted me and said it was the best kombucha he has ever had and needed it on their shelves immediately,” Schmidt recalls.

Cliffhouse Kombucha is a small, family run business owned by Rüdiger Schmidt and his wife, Kate, and son Julien.EXPAND
Cliffhouse Kombucha is a small, family run business owned by Rüdiger Schmidt and his wife, Kate, and son Julien.
Rüdiger Schmidt

The brewer now distributes across the state and is making kombucha full-time, but still manages to produce everything from a small commercial kitchen in his home, along with help from his wife, Kate, and their son, Julien.

The kombucha he produces has only 0.5 percent alcohol, similar to non-alcoholic beer, Schmidt says. There is a black-tea-based kombucha with mango flowers and passion fruit, an orange-raspberry, and a green-tea variety with mint and turmeric.

The most popular flavor is ginger-peach, made with a black tea base and pieces of fresh ginger and peaches. “It’s got a really nice flavor,” Schmidt says. “It has a lot of ginger, but the peach adds a little sweetness and cuts into the bitterness.” He also makes two herbal tea varieties — one pure hibiscus and one pure lemongrass.

Schmidt built this space for his son, Julien, to make room for a commercial kitchen in his home, inspiring the name Cliffhouse.EXPAND
Schmidt built this space for his son, Julien, to make room for a commercial kitchen in his home, inspiring the name Cliffhouse.
Rüdiger Schmidt

Schmidt produces about 200 gallons of kombucha per week. “I really put my heart in it, and that comes out in the flavor,” he explains. “It’s not just a job. For me, it’s a part of my lifestyle, and I just turned that into my business.”

That dedication is evident throughout the process of creating each kombucha batch, which takes more than thirty days. Schmidt works with a separate company to import organic fair-trade teas from India and Sri Lanka to ensure that he's using ingredients of the highest quality. Unlike other companies, he is still using an original kombucha culture and unique recipes, as opposed to liquid infusion, which has replaced the traditional method in some cases. 

Since production is in his home, he can taste the kombucha daily until he determines the optimal time to bottle for the best flavor. “A certain kind of people are attracted to kombucha,” he notes. “People here are more health conscious and are more aware of the quality and the ingredients in their food and drink.”

Find Cliffhouse Kombucha around Denver at American Cultures (a kombucha taproom in LoHi), Mercury Cafe, and Nooch Vegan Market. You can also find it at Brewing Market and Lucky’s Market in both Boulder and Longmont, as well as several other locations along the Front Range. Visit the Cliffhouse website to see all locations.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.