For many, the recent Mango and Tropical Fruit Festival was just the latest of several annual events for residents to browse and try foodstuff by locals with a penchant for culinary arts.
But for Cristina Ivory, founder and owner of Angry Booch, it was something of a homecoming.
It was there, three years ago, that she decided to leave a well-paying job in healthcare technology to commit fulltime to a passion project whose potential, she believed, had yet to be realized.
The choice was easy in hindsight, she said. Her old job no longer challenged her. She felt stagnant, and hours on end sitting at a desk was taking a toll on her body.
“I’d become a different person from when I’d started there seven years before — more in touch with nature, doing and making things in the interest of health,” she said. “And my career was unhealthy.”
Ivory grew up overweight and continued to be before adopting an active lifestyle that saw her lose more than 60 pounds. She moonlit as a wellness guru, teaching spinning classes at LA Fitness and promoting healthy weight-loss products.
As those interests grew, she became more focused on what she ate and drank. One day, an article on probiotics caught her attention.
Probiotics are friendly digestive bacteria commonly associated with yogurt that provide a host of health benefits, from weight loss and body detoxification to better nutrient absorption and immune system support.
Ivory tried kombucha, a fermented tea drink blended with probiotics whose taste varies depending on flavor and manufacture.
But the kombucha she bought from the store, she said, was “not great-tasting, though oftentimes healthy things don’t taste great anyway.”
Here’s the thing: Ivory is a tinkerer. If she enjoys something, she has to try to make it herself. Such was the case with kombucha.
At the very least, she thought she could improve the taste.
So she started experimenting, which let her ensure the ingredients in her version were ones of which she approved. The result, by her own account and that of her coworkers and friends, was fantastic.
“Before you knew it, I didn’t have enough, so I started making more— two gallons, then four,” she said. “At a certain point, people said, ‘This stuff is great. You should sell it.’”
Ivory established Angry Booch on July 11, 2015, when she rented a booth at a downtown farmers market. Her daughter, Alex, drew the company’s logo, an irate cartoon rabbit with a bowtie.
Her offerings that day, though meager in variety compared to now, were a hit, and she went back every Saturday after while still working her desk job.
Soon, other events started to invite her to promote and sell Angry Booch. The mounting enthusiasm convinced her that she needed to take the business to the next level.
The problem was, she had reached her production limit in the commercial kitchen she rented. She needed to open her own space.
So she did. And Ivory, long unhappy at her day job, quit the healthcare business to focus solely on Angry Booch in a beautiful taproom in Palmetto Bay — the first of its kind in Miami-Dade County.
“It was a huge leap, a huge decision,” she said. “There was so much anxiety, fear and doubt.”
The first things visitors to the Angry Booch taproom will notice is how serene it is. That’s due to its cozy, tropical décor, a bar made of repurposed wood and a gorgeous mural spanning a wall from which eight kombucha taps protrude.
Angry Booch’s signature product is still kombucha, with flavors like Hibiscus Ginger Orange, Honey Lavender and Rose Geranium. But Ivory, ever the tinkerer, has broadened her offerings to include a growing menu of homemade kimchi, krauts and sauces, as well as organic fare from other local artisans.
She’s also now in wholesale, with several shops like Verde in Wynwood, Mima Market in Miami Shores and Earth Miami on Sunset Drive carrying Angry Booch products.
“In the next year, my goal is to have at least 40 wholesale accounts,” she said.
But her industriousness doesn’t end there. The next step, she said, is to address a long-unfilled deficit in a surprising market — beer.
“A lot of people ask for non-alcoholic beer, and I have a kombucha made with hops that tastes a bit like beer,” she said. “There’s always an opportunity to provide a healthier option.”
Angry Booch is located at 16936 S. Dixie Hwy. and can be found Saturdays at Legion Park Farmers Market, Sundays at Pinecrest Gardens Farmers’ Market and in fall and spring semesters at the University of Miami Farmers Market.
For more information, visit www.AngryBooch.com or call 305-814-9317.