When we think of speakeasy, we think Prohibition-era hideaway saloons selling illegal alcoholic libations. SOMA Kombucha Speakeasy, located in St, Johns, North Portland, feels like a well-kept secret but reinvents the speakeasy with an organic essence and modern vibe. The exposed brick walls, record player wafting Bollywood beats, local art, and plush floor cushions made recall Rishikesh in the 1970s, and is an intimate space for guests to mingle and share conversation. All of the wooden tables are hand-made, salvaged from trees that had fallen during a lightning storm then cut up and carved into tables.
A fermented tea drink that’s rapidly growing in popularity all over the US, this fizzy, soda-like beverage is rich in probiotics, along with other benefits, such as improved digestion and immunity-boosting bacteria. Though SOMA is tucked away, lab results suggest that it’s the healthiest kombucha on the market, with a higher number of naturally-occurring probiotics and nutrients than any other brand. It’s also the only naturally-carbonated kombucha, which owner Jean-Pierre Parent says is much healthier than the artificially-carbonated stuff.
Jean-Pierre, author of the “Kitchen Sink Farming” book series about healthy living on the cheap, has been brewing his mom’s kombucha recipe since the 1990s. “Through decades of tinkering, I’ve developed a really unique way to brew for months, which is why it’s so much healthier and tastier than any other kombucha. Probiotics are the key for wellness, responsible for an unbelievable amount of essential processes in our bodies. By aligning with their wisdom and benevolence I’ve been able to create more wellness in my life than I ever thought possible, and I get such a kick sharing that with our customers in this fun and inviting place,” he says.
SOMA offers several rotating kombucha flavors on tap, along with two mainstays, Coffee-Boocha and Oak-Aged Cask Kombucha & Jun. The speakeasy encourages tasting all flavors on tap before deciding which one to get. All tap flavors are sold by the pint, growler, keg, and many sizes in between. There are 13 bottled flavors, plus coffee-boocha vinegar, fermented dressings with cold-pressed organic oils, and colloidal silver supplements. While bottled flavors are available all the time, the keg flavors are often one-time only, which keeps it seasonal and fun. SOMA is a zero-waste company that offers bottles with a refundable deposit, and allows customers to fill their own containers too. Fresh fermented and sprouted vegan food, mostly raw, is also available, in addition to a selection of grab and go items. A variety of herbal elixirs, made by Ojas Naturals, provide an added boost for the kombucha, with options ranging from kava, tulsi, ginger, etc. Everything is organic, of course. SOMA operates on a unique self-service model for all food and drinks, therefore there is no table service. However, staff is always happy to answer any questions about the products or process.