Hops and Hibiscus! Flavored Foodie Soda – Proper Soda Co.

“I recently heard they’ve added more hops”, is a classic line from Judd Apatow’s teenage comedy “Superbad”. Most of the time when we reference hops, a type of flower, we are referring to the staple in the beer brewing process. We’ve uncovered a company that has taken the herbal and earthy plant to new heights in a great tasting, low sugar, sparkling beverage (non-alcoholic). Let’s give a proper hello to Proper Soda Co.

We interview Stephen Curtis, the soda scientist behind this thirst quenching venture.

MC: Tell us a little about yourself and the company you own/run?

PS: I was born here in Michigan, and grew up in a small town south of Grand Rapids. I started working at a coffee place after high school, and had the opportunity to take that over, which happened in 2006. Looking to be more involved in the supply side, I began roasting coffee. Through that process met up with Kurt Stauffer, the founder of Rowster Coffee. He was looking to open a retail shop in Grand Rapids, so he approached me about teaming up to make that happen. We opened our retail location at 632 Wealthy St. SE in July of 2010. I had been making Italian Sodas for a long time, and have always enjoyed helping people expand their taste horizons, which is one of the principles behind Proper Soda. We aim to take an interesting ingredient and transform it into a delicious soda.

MC: What is your location and when did you start/how long has the company been in business?

PS: Proper Soda is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I started working on this idea in 2012, and had our first production run of Hop Soda done in November of 2013.

MC: What makes your products special/unique?

PS: We have the only soda made from hops, so there’s that!

Hibiscus is one of those flavors that most people are sort of familiar with, but probably haven’t had as a soda. It’s floral, sweet, slightly tart, and completely delicious.

The general idea behind the brand is to take flavors that aren’t usually found on the wider market, and turn them into a delicious soda using natural ingredients, no preservatives, and cane sugar. Our goal is to have our sodas be very simple, and simply delicious. The interesting twist is to highlight unique ingredients.

Keep an eye out. Coffee Soda will not be far behind!


MC: What’s the favorite part about your job?

PS: There are a lot of great things, but one of my favorites is watching people light up once they try our Sodas – not expecting to love it as much as they do!

MC: Where can we buy more of your products?

PS: There are about 80 stores in West Michigan that carry our products, and a couple of places over on the East Side, including Populace Cafe, in Bay City, and Espresso Elevado in Plymouth. We should be available state wide shortly! You can also. email us at [email protected]

You can also order online from www.propersoda.com!


MC: What’s the best way to enjoy/eat/prepare/utilize your product

PS: Chilled is great! I am also a big fan of using it in a cocktail. A good gin, Hop Soda, and a splash of orange bitters is classic. Or take a nice vodka, add Hop Soda and a lime twist, and you’re enjoying deliciousness.

If you like to pair Hibiscus Soda with a spirit, we really like it with a nice white rum, or blanco tequila. For something a little more intense we recommend a ‘Red & Smokey’ which pairs Hibiscus Soda with Mezcal, and a squeeze of lime. 

It’s only soda, but it may as well be proper!


Well I think it’s time to pour some soda on the rocks about now!