Proper Soda Co. is a featured local business this month at Boxed GR. I had the opportunity to chat with Stephen Curtis about his craft soda business. Proper Soda currently offers a delicious hop soda with at least one other flavor expected to be available in Grand Rapids by the end of the year.
Curtis has a long history with consumer beverages. He began working at a coffee shop in Caledonia, MI after high school and had the opportunity to take it over in 2006. It was there that he met his current business partner at Rowster Coffee (632 Wealthy St. SE), which they opened in 2010. While working at the coffee shop in Caledonia, Stephen made a lot of Italian sodas - which consist of carbonated water and coffee syrup flavorings. He experimented with a lot of different flavor combinations - namely a coffee soda with espresso as the "flavor", which he later perfected at Rowster.
In 2012 his friend in Portland, OR was in a competition and made a coffee and hop flavored soda. Curtis tasted it, thought it was horrible, and knew he could make it better! Back in Grand Rapids, he started working on a better version of a coffee and hops soda. Eventually he tested out a hops only flavored soda, which he thought was surprisingly delicious. After researching further, he realized nobody else was making a soda from hops. Stephen felt there was an opportunity to change the public's perception of the use of hops in soda on a large scale. He also thought it would make sense to all the craft beer loving Michiganders.
Stephen was able to secure seed funding from Start Garden in 2013 and was able to get his prototype run of cans produced. He says it has been non-stop ever since!
Proper Soda is available at the following local stores: Martha's Vineyard, Art of the Table, Sicilianos, Kingma's Market, Rowster Coffee, Cakabakery, Relish Green Grocer, Horrocks Market, and Ken's Fruit Stand. Beginning in October it will also be in select Meijer stores.