We are part of a team of eight co-researchers from Montreal, Paris, Copenhagen and Abidjan who are collaborating to design and fabricate a kombucha machine on multiple open-source online platforms. We are documenting our discussions and experiments to design and create a kombucha machine that bridges the temporal gap between bacterial cellulose production (a by-product of kombucha fermentation) and fermented tea beverage.
Bacterial cellulose is the by-product tea fermentation and requires a month-long process, while kombucha drinks need only a week-long fermentation process. This explains why kombucha brewers don’t recycle their cellulose sheets, and why biohackers who produce cellulose don’t use their fermented tea. At each stage, there is a risk of contamination which does not pose problem for non-edible uses, but in the case of kombucha tea, contamination would pose health hazards. In addition, because of the potential contamination of kombucha tea, brewers have to comply with extensive health and safety standard, such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or the United States Food and Drug Administration. This is the multi-layered problem we are attempting to bridge from an interdisciplinary and international exchange.
Scheduled meetings are being held via videoconference, while more technical contributions (technical drawings, results of experimentations, data related to the culture of bacterial cellulose, etc) are shared on Wikifactory.com and Trello.com, two open-source sharing platforms.
Dr. Ann-Louise Davidson is an Associate Professor of Education, Graduate Program Director for the MA in Educational Technology and the Graduate Diploma in Instructional Technology at Concordia University, and holds a Concordia University Research Chair in Maker Culture. She is Associate Director of the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology and Director of the Milieux makerspace initiative.