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Meet Leighton Kohlmann of KUBEBA in Wash Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leighton Kohlmann.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Leighton. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am have lived in Denver for 5.5 years, and love everything outdoors, especially skiing and hiking. I am allergic to peanuts and almonds and realized there are no nutritious protein bars on the market for people with nut allergies. The bars on the market, either don’t have very much protein or are very in high sugar. I reached out to my now business partners Emily Foster and Amy Jones, to see if they would be interested in collaborating. I told them I wanted to create a nut-free protein bar that was low in sugar and high in protein; they ultimately took out the other top allergens.

KUBEBA is a Colorado-based food company dedicated to providing consumers with allergy-friendly, better-for-you, innovative foods that are free of the top eight food allergens (milk, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish). KUBEBA means “to bear or to carry” in Swahili. Our intention is to offer products that do just this – sustain and carry consumers body and safely through the day. Our brand mascot, Beba, the bear, represents this intention and our overarching mission to help individuals with dietary restrictions release their food fears and step into their courage. Bears are bold, courageous and fearless – these are traits we hope to evoke in our customers.

At KUBEBA, our goal is to create access to allergy-friendly, better-for-you foods across the world. Our products are purposefully crafted with real, whole-food ingredients, free from the top eight allergens. It is our belief that no individual should live in fear that the food they consume will harm them. Nor should they be left to eat foods that are unhealthy or poor-tasting because they are the only option.

We’re here to change this – to offer foods that are free of growl-inducing allergens, offer mighty nutritional benefits, and feature roar-worthy flavors that carry those with dietary restrictions boldly through the day… The KUBEBA way!

With food allergies increasing at an exponential rate and very little understanding of the causes, we see a large opportunity to fill a much-needed gap in the food marketplace. There are very few foods made with healthy, nutrient-dense, allergy-friendly ingredients, while countless people are suffering from fear and illness around what they consume. Studies have shown that food allergies and intolerances are associated with heightened social anxiety and fear of rejection and shame in children and young adults.

We are on a mission to minimize this – to provide people with dietary restrictions foods they can eat courageously and feel great about.

Have you ever searched for a healthy, allergy-friendly protein bar? They’re non-existent! Leighton, one of our founders, has a nut allergy and knows this search all too well. Twin sisters, Amy and Emily, our other founders, have suffered from food sensitivities most of their lives and have struggled to find nutrient-dense, portable snacks that meet their needs. Our first product is a line of allergy-friendly, health-promoting, plant-based protein bars, made with high-quality, nutrient-dense, whole food ingredients – rich in protein and fiber and low in sugar. KUBEBA protein bars are our first approach at offering consumers healthy, allergy-friendly, portable snack options they can safely enjoy.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are parts that have been smooth and parts that have not been smoothed; however, we have not officially launched.

We have committed to providing a bar that is totally safe for those with food allergies. We will be  produced in an allergy friendly facility One of our biggest challenges has been finding an allergy friendly facility, in addition to finding suppliers that meet the requirements of the facility.

KUBEBA – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
What sets us apart is that we are free from the top 8 food allergens, we use unique ingredients and have unique flavors. Our recipes were formulated by a certified plant-based chef who is also a nutritionist. She is very up today on the most recent health trends and what ingredients are beneficial or harmful to the body.

There are other companies out there that are free from the top 8 allergens. A lot of them focus on dessert items because it’s hard to find cookies, baked goods that are nut free, dairy free, egg free and gluten free. We are focused on eliminating allergens without eliminating nutrition or taste.

There are many protein bars on the market that brand themselves as healthy; however, they have the nutrition profile of a candy bar. We do not want to be one of those companies. We want to provide quality, non-GMO ingredients that are all beneficial to the body.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
It will be an amazing day when we officially launch; however, our trial production run was pretty exciting. It was so cool to see our bars finally being produced on professional equipment!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Caitlin Ahlenius

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Gayle Hightower

    December 23, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    So excited to read about your energy bars! I have a gluten allergy and am trying to cut down on sugar! I have seen these bars and now know the story behind them and the special people that provide them! Congratulations Leighton!
    Gayle Hightower

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