Not only is he an avid cyclist, well-known Triathlete, and the newest member of Team Fedeles here at Coldwell Banker St. Croix Realty, Stephen Swanton is also the Kombucha King! When he is not working with buyers or sellers, Stephen can be found selling his kombucha at the Le Reine Farmers Market on Saturday Mornings.
Stephen is the founder and operator of “Bici Café-Virgin Islands Kombucha.”Bici as in “bicicleta”, Spanish for bicycle, because it is literally a bicycle cafe! His kombucha is also on tap at 9 locations on St. Croix and Stephen hopes to start distributing to St. Thomas and St. John by the end of the year.
Kombucha can be unflavored or flavored with anything you like. Stephen likes to use locally grown fruits. Some of his favorite kombucha flavors include passion fruit, carambola-cayenne, “lime in da coconut”, guava, suriname and acerola cherry.
Kombucha has been around for thousands of years and its origins can be traced back to China. The legend goes that in China, a Dr. “Kombu” brought a magical tea (cha) to the emperor that healed him from all his ailments around 221BC. There’s even a kombucha brand called “221BC”.
Essentially, kombucha is fermented tea (usually a mixture of green and black tea) with organic cane sugar that is food for a living organism called a “SCOBY” which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY, or mother/mushroom as it is sometimes called, feeds on the sugars and caffeine in the tea resulting in an end product that is very low in sugar and high in probiotics and beneficial bacteria.
When we asked Stephen, why kombucha, he simply replied, “Kombucha chose me!” Stephen said he first wanted to bring specialty coffee to St. Croix— specifically “nitro cold brew coffee” using ethically sourced high quality locally roasted beans. A requirement for nitro cold brew is the use of a keg and tap system similar to what brewers use to infuse the coffee with.
He designed a custom-built dispensing system to attach to the fastest cargo bike in the world, which happens to be Danish, paying homage to St. Croix’s history. He also wanted to have more than one product available, so kombucha was a natural choice! It’s a healthy, locally sourced, artisanal product that could be dispensed from a tap system just like the cold brew coffee.
Stephen says there are many health benefits to kombucha and it just makes you feel good when you drink it. As an athlete, Stephen drinks it as a recovery drink to replenish his body after a workout.
If you are nervous about tasting it, Stephen says just try it! It may be a little tart for some, but kombucha has come a long way over the years. With the addition of locally harvested St. Croix tropical fruits, the flavor is fantastic.
The next time you are in La Reine on a Saturday, make sure you stop by and say hello to Stephen. You can also read more about his business here: https://www.bicicafevi.com/