Nov 04 2021. views 134
Tea is a very familiar beverage in a Sri Lankan household. In fact, tea is an integral part of the Sri Lankan identity, as our tea is exported to many countries in the world. When we think of tea, our minds gravitate towards the typical style of beverage; ‘milk tea’ or ‘plain tea’. Hence, the introduction of artisanal tea by Aksaya Sivakumar and Luqman Shaheel into the saturated tea market. Known as ‘Kohomathe’ the brand is only two weeks old, yet it has garnered quite a following for its tea blends that make way for an aesthetic drink that you can post on your social media. Their latest innovation, ‘DIY Boba Kits’ has been a best-seller as many can now make their own rendition of bubble tea in the comfort of their homes without having to spend an excessive amount on café-bought teas.
What inspired you to start Kohomathe?
Kohomathe has always been our dream project. We are absolute fans of chai, in any form. We also love trying out new cafes and the beverages they offer. But most importantly, the drinks must look aesthetically pleasing for the ‘gram. Taking all of that into consideration, we figured we could put in some thought to bring together a brand that allows people who have similar interests like us to be able to find all their needs under one roof, and not empty their pockets while doing so.
Tell us a bit about what you offer at Kohomathe?
At Kohomathe, we offer a range of artisanal beverages and drinkware to complement the fancy drink people can make with our blends. Our artisanal beverages range from blue lattes to purple lemonade and bubble tea. We also have our crowd favourite: DIY boba kits, which include every possible ingredient you need to make your own cup of bubble tea at home. We encourage customers to be innovative with their drinks by including a caramel syringe shot and fun shaped glassware.
Your first collection consists of two blends; fifty shades of blue and purples cosmos. What was the process of making this?
The fifty shades of blue were created by accident when making the purple cosmo blend. We were initially going with a floral and earthy taste for purple cosmo thus including lavender to our blend. However, during one of our trials, we accidentally mixed it with the spices we had prepared for our chai mix and we absolutely loved the addition to our blend as it makes a perfect iced chai latte, hence, 50 shades of blue was born. The names were simply derived from the colour of the drinks. Purple cosmo makes a navy-blue drink until mixed with lemon juice, which then changes to purple due to the acidity from the lemon.
What are the challenges you have faced during the process of setting up Kohomathe?
Within the course of 3 months, we were faced with multiple challenges, that we obviously took as a learning process to improvise in what we currently do. Initially, we had multiple issues regarding packaging from the sizes to the quality, that we had to get exchanged. There were multiple trial-and-error sessions to master the perfect blend for our beverages which took quite a lot of time. However, with all the love and support we received from customers and friends since our launch, these challenges seemed to have been worth incurring.
Artisanal beverages are still quite a new concept in Sri Lanka as many are used to commercialised products. What makes this different from the regular tea that people are used to?
We figured a gap in the market for artisanal beverages that only a few cafes provided within Colombo. We wanted to give customers the ability to make these beverages at home. What’s different about our blends is that it is caffeine free with loads of health benefits from the butterfly pea flowers. It also has a soothing and subtle taste that we figured would be admired by people who are not fans of tea or coffee. However, our blends can be used with any regular tea or coffee. Therefore, we really don’t have a specific group of audience to target, rather make our blends flexible for everyone’s tastebuds.
How has the response been so far?
To be honest, we had zero expectations during the launch as we had no idea how customers would react to a new product in the market. However, within a week of launch, we got an overwhelming response with everyone loving the concept and supporting us by trying it out. Our biggest hit is the Boba kit as it used to be quite difficult for people to find the boba pearls for retail in Sri Lanka to make their own drinks at home. Now they have Kohomathe.
How do you utilise social media to get your product across to potential customers?
Kohomathe is completely an online brand. Thus, we live and depend on social media to drive sales and brand awareness. We do not believe in spending huge amounts on traditional advertising when all our potential customers scroll through Instagram and Tiktok. We occasionally post tiktoks of daily vlogs incorporating the drinks and how to make them and use Instagram as a platform for customers to purchase and resolve any queries.
What is next for you?
We have exciting things planned for Kohomathe in the future. However, our main goal at the moment is to get our target audience to be aware of what we sell and analyse their responses towards the blends. We are currently working on introducing a new range for Christmas and maybe for Valentines. Thereafter, we hope to increase our production scale depending on the success of the business.
text Tiranya Ranasinghe