For Part 2 of our Australian Cold Brew Series, we’re joined by Dustin Bailey from Rushmore coffee out of Melbourne Australia. We talk with Dustin about starting a small business and the cold brew scene in Australia. We also talk a bit about cold brew coffee and shelf life.
If you listened to Part 1 with Filament Coffee, you likely heard the birds… In this episode, we get to meet Dustin’s dog. The Aussies love their animals! Except for the Ibis.
Highlights & Takeaways
Some learning through trial and error… lots of testing and experiments turned into a business.
If you’re bottling cold brew, send it to a lab to get tested for shelf life and stability.
What we mentioned on during this show
Episode 63 Transcript
Brendan Hanson: You’re listening to the Drips & Draughts Podcast. As always, I’m Brendan Hanson and I’ll be your host today. On today’s episode, we’re joined by Dustin Bailey from Rushmore Coffee. This is going to be part two of our Australian Cold Brew Series. If you didn’t hear part one, you can find that episode by going to dripsanddraughts.com/61.
On part one, we were joined by Filament Coffee from Perth, Australia. Now we’re moving from the west coast to the southeast coast of Australia to talk with Dustin Bailey from Rushmore Coffee based out in Melbourne, Australia. Rushmore is a small startup that’s based solely on cold brew coffee. As you listen, you’ll likely notice that they face a lot of the same challenges that the guys from Filament Coffee faced. Dustin also provides a lot of great information on shelf-life, shelf stability, and some good suggestions for anybody out there who’s cold brewing and bottling coffee.
Before we get into today’s episode, just a quick reminder, if you get any value from this podcast, hop in to iTunes, leave us a quick rating and review. Like our most recent review from Johnny3533. Review says, “Love the podcast. Thanks guys for putting on a good podcast. I really enjoy listening during my commute to and from work. I’ve been seriously considering getting into the business and you all have helped me immensely in learning more. Thanks again.” Thank you Johnny3533. We appreciate the review and we really appreciate the fact that it was five stars. If you do launch that business, best of luck. If you’re still listening, do what Johnny did. Hop into iTunes and leave this podcast a quick review. We’ll love you forever.
One more thing to note before we get into today’s episode. If you ever have any ideas for a show or a topic that you want us to cover on our show, shoot us an email podcast@dripsand draughts.com or call us 888.620.2739 ext 6. Let us know what you’re looking to hear. Whether it’s a specific topic, maybe you want us to get a person or a company on the show. Just let us know what you’d like to hear and we’ll try to make it happen.
All right, gang, that’s it for the intro. Let’s get into today’s episode with Dustin Bailey from Rushmore Coffee. Oh, and please keep in mind, we were recording this from opposite sides of the world, so there is a little bit of audio lag between question and answer sometimes. Hope it doesn’t bother you too much. All right, here’s today’s episode with Dustin Bailey from Rushmore Coffee.
Commercial: Thanks to our sponsor, Cold Brew Avenue, the first stainless steel cold brew system that has reinvented how you cold brew. Easily brew up to 50 gallons using their 100% reusable stainless steel filter system. Visit them at coldbrewavenue.com to learn more.
Brendan: Welcome back to the Drips & Draughts Podcast. I’m Brendan Hanson, and today, I’m joined by Dustin Bailey from Rushmore Coffee. How are you, Dustin?
Dustin Bailey: Yes, I’m great, man. Thanks for having me.
Brendan: Absolutely. We’re on opposite sides of the world. It’s getting to be later in the afternoon here. What time is it there?
Dustin: It’s like 8:30 in the morning so things are just getting started.
Brendan: Bright and early, huh?
Dustin: Yes. It’s always weird because I’ve got family back in Canada, so you kind of get used to living with AM and PM mixing all the time.
Brendan: Yes, I guess. It’s definitely proven to be a kind of tough for schedule in the podcast. I’m grateful to people like you who help me out and make it work, so thanks.
Dustin: No problem. We’ve been listening to the podcast for ages so it’s kind of exciting to think of the idea of maybe giving back a bit.
Brendan: I think that’s how we came to be in contact. I think you actually reached out and said, “Hey, you know, we’ve gotten a lot out of the podcast. Love to try to be on the show and help give back if possible.” Definitely, appreciate your reaching out and joining us today.
Dustin: I think it’s really important with such a new product especially here in Australia to talk about what’s working and how things can become easier. Because we’ve learned so much over a fairly long period of time. I feel like people who are just maybe starting out with the cold brew side of things could really get off and running a lot quicker than what we did. [laughs]
Brendan: A lot of trial and error, huh?
Dustin: Yes, for sure.
Brendan: I think that’s pretty standard among a lot of cold brewers, but we’re here to try to take away as much of that as possible.
Brendan: Cool. If you wouldn’t mind, maybe kind of giving us a little background and history about yourself and how you got into coffee?
Dustin: I wouldn’t say it’s an underwhelming story about how I got into coffee, but I grew up in a household that never really had coffee around. So it wasn’t until I got into university that I started dabbling in coffee I guess for the caffeine energy boost side of things. My wife always drink coffee. In Australia, as you probably know, the milk-based coffee industry is pretty massive and pouring of latte art and all this stuff is pretty commonplace here. I have a slightly obsessive personality and it was kind of a case where I said, “Hey, I can probably pour lattes and do a lot like that.” I got a little machine and started experimenting before I even really drunk coffee. So I was pulling shots and making coffees for my wife and having no idea what it actually tastes like.
Brendan: Just at home?
Dustin: Yes. Once I got into doing some late nights at university and kind of realizing the effects of coffee, I started dabbling. I think the biggest thing in Melbourne is I’ve always liked the smell of coffee, but I think in Canada, and probably the stuff that I had access to when I was younger, it never tasted as good as it smelt. I don’t know if you know what I mean. In Melbourne, we’re really lucky to have so many small roasters in the specialty industry that really, really put a lot of care into the coffee that they’re making. I finally discovered that coffee does taste as good as it smells, and it’s just elaborated from there, I guess.
Brendan: So, you just got to know where to look for the coffee.
Dustin: Yes. I think taking the time to understand that there’s a lot of processes involved in making coffee and not just treating it as a commodity that you can just get anywhere at any time.
Brendan: Sure. So you got into coffee kind of late in your li– Well, not late. I guess college university time is when a lot of people I think get into coffee. That’s when I really started to get into it. What kind of drove you to start Rushmore Coffee? When did you start Rushmore Coffee?
Dustin: I think my involvement in Rushmore really came from the fact that I studied industrial design. I had a lot of understanding about material process stuff. My two friends, Kate and Bulut, they’re the other people I work with in Rushmore. They’re the people that have this vision of doing cold brew in Australia because they spent quite a bit of time on the west coast in the US. As you’d know, cold brew is getting pretty massive there, in most cafes you can get a cold brew. They fell in love with it because they don’t drink dairy or have sugars or anything in most of their foods. So cold brew was like a really amazing way to enjoy coffee with maybe some more delicate flavors that were easier to drink on their own as opposed to needing to cover up a really strong coffee with other product.
Dustin: They came back and they were surprised that they couldn’t find the range of cold brews that the US had in Australia because Australia is a very hot coffee market. They had this idea that “Hey, it’s probably possible to bring some cold brew to the Australian market.” But they weren’t overly sure about the manufacturing side and how you go about brewing and bottling and all of that stuff. That’s where they brought me in. We just started doing some experiments and started to snowball and idea turned into a business.
Brendan: Wow, right on. So, true small business startup, huh?
Dustin: Yes, for sure. [laughs]
Brendan: It’s just the three of you still?
Dustin: Yes, just the three of us.
Brendan: And it’s all centered around cold brew? Do you guys do any like beans or roasting or anything else or just focusing primarily on cold brew?
Dustin: At this stage with the scale that we’re at, we’re just focusing on cold brew. There’s definitely lots of visions of what we’d like to do in the future, but at this point, yes, we’re just focusing on nailing what we’re doing now and then see where we can go with it.
Brendan: Awesome. Out of your current cold brew selection, is it just like one main bland or a single origin that you guys do? Or do you guys dabble in different origins, different blends, different beans?
Dustin: Yes, it’s an interesting– I wouldn’t call it a problem. Coffee is super seasonal and a lot of people don’t really realize that coffee is in such high demand it can be really hard to get the really good quality crops. And they’re always changing. We had this dilemma where we looked at a lot of other cold coffee products out there. There’s not so many to look at in Australia, but a lot of them are focusing on bean origin which in a lot of ways makes sense.
But we had this interesting dilemma where we knew that we wanted to have screen printed bottles which I suppose is a slightly more permanent method of marking bottles. Which also meant that we didn’t know how quickly our beans sources would be changing, therefore every time we changed labeling on our bottle we’ve got to get a whole new screen made for our machine. It’s a little bit more intensive to do individual labeling like that.
Dustin: We realized that people that are drinking cold brew in Australia are valuing it for it’s quality, but also I guess convenience. Being able to have this really high quality coffee product that’s stable and ready to go whenever they need it. I think we realized that it’s really important to know where the coffee came from. People are relying on us as the people making the cold brew to make the call of which bean’s going to be the best for the way that we’re brewing and to make changes as necessary. Because we find a bean that we love and we started brewing it and then we get the bad news that’s there’s none more left, so we’ve got to a whole bunch of samples of– we order whole bunch of samples and do more experimenting and taste testing and cupping.
Yes, it’s a pretty intensive process that we’re really obsessing over, but we don’t necessarily expect the consumer to have the same level of interest in how much we actually go into.
Brendan: Sure. Reminds me of when we’re brewing beer. We think we’re going to do a great IPA with a certain hop and then we try to get an order or try to go to a local home brewer to start to pick up some hops. We find out that the hops’ been just sold out for the season because, like you said, it’s a commodity that people use, and when it’s gone it’s gone until next year. I totally understand where you’re coming from there.
Dustin: We only brew single origins. The reason for that is we really love how delicate cold brew can be. When I think of a hot coffee like a pour-over or an espresso or something normally, we think of really, really complex flavors. You sip it and taste it and as the temperature changes the drink’s changing. The thing I like about cold brew is that it seems like a much more stripped back version where you’re able to taste the more simple fruity nature of coffee. That’s why we didn’t really think of using a blend, we’ve always been focused on using single origins to try to distill that flavor down into it’s simplest form.
We’ve been using a lot of Ethiopian’s and they seem to work pretty well in terms of their fruity taste for cold brew. That’s what we’re using right now. It’s a Fair Trade Organic Ethiopian.
Brendan: Nice. Do you guys get that from a local roaster? Do you guys roast it?
Dustin: We would love to start roasting specifically for our process, but at this stage in our scale we just had to work with local roasters. Basically, we just order a whole bunch of different beans from different places. Of course, there’s the business aspect where you’ve got to consider pricing and volume and everything. But primarily what we’re focusing on is brewing a whole bunch of samples and just doing blind tests. Not having these notions of, “Oh, will this bean cost this much?” It’s probably going to be a better coffee just completely removing all variables and just letting our taste buds drive the experience.
Brendan: Just do taste test and go with what your mouth tells you, huh?
Brendan: Nice. Then when you guys brew are you guys brewing to RTD strength, concentrate, both?
Dustin: We’ve adjusted a little bit what we do, but we are brewing just in concentrate form. We do have a ready-to-drink product which is bottled and sold in stores. Which is diluted back down, that’s just using our reverse osmosis water. Yes, we find that in terms of brewing in the volumes that we do right now, brewing the concentrate is the more successful way for us to do it. We recently increased the strength of our brew by quite a bit. It’s 50% stronger now because we had a lot of feedback from consumers with the idea that we often suggest that you can mix the concentrate with milk or water or whatever you want.
But I think a lot of people were just drinking it straight because cold brew is so palatable. It’s not a punch in the face like espresso is. We decided to try and up the ante up a bit and, yes, use a lot more coffee in our brew now so it’s a lot stronger.
Brendan: Dialed it up a bit, huh?
Brendan: Right on. You mentioned you guys bottle, you screen print your bottles. Do you guys do any kegging or draught products right now?
Dustin: Yes. I forget where the first time we would have had nitro cold brew was. Again because none of us have dairy in any of our drinks, the idea of textural nitrogenated coffee was really quite exciting when we first tried it. There is the ‘wow’ factor of seeing the cascade, and there’s the theater of it, but it does bring out different flavors in the coffee as well. We did a whole bunch of research and figured how we were going to do this. We ended up building a little mobile cart that we can take out to events and different places where we can serve nitro and cold brew on tap.
Brendan: Awesome. That’s where you get to interface a face-to-face with your customers and potential customers and do a little education, I imagine?
Dustin: Yes, it’s really interesting. It’s funny when you’re wrapped up in what you’re doing in your own business and you know the ins and outs of every aspect of it. But we didn’t really ever expect there’d be so much education not required but– customers are really interested to understand why you’re doing something differently when the current offerings serve everyone so well. We’re always chasing what’s new.
When you pour a cold coffee– cold coffee in itself is a new thing for Australia, but when you talk about nitrogenated coffee they say, “Is it fizzy? I don’t understand,” and then you go through this whole process of explaining what’s actually going on. Everyone’s really interested by the end of it, but because it’s a lot of information to take in and because the cold coffee segment in Australia is relatively new, it takes a bit of time for people to really understand why you’re pouring coffee out of a keg.
Brendan: Sure. That’s how I get my beer, why are you doing this with coffee?
Dustin: Yes. I remember during the summer we partnered up with the local council, and we were actually serving cold brew on tap beside the pool, at an outdoor pool, it was quite funny to see all these people coming in they’re like, “Oh, you’re serving beer at the pool?” I was like, “No, no, we won’t be able to do that, it’s not beer, it’s coffee”. That sparked that whole same conversation.
Brendan: Yes, it just creates a lot of buzz for you?
Dustin: Yes, that’s right.
Brendan: Right on. I know in one of your emails you’d mentioned that Melbourne’s a coffee capital in Australia. Can you tell us about the cold brew scene there? Maybe where it was, I don’t know, two or three years ago and where it is now, and maybe where you see it going just locally to you?
Dustin: Yes, for sure. To be honest when we started Rushmore, I was pretty intimated. Because the coffee culture here is so strong and vibrant. You go into these tiny little cafes that are just the smallest spots and you look in the back they’ve got a roasting machine. Crazy guys with charts on their computers. It’s just madness how technical and immensely complex the coffee scene is here. Coming into it with basically no coffee background at all, it was pretty intimidating.
It was to the point where I didn’t even feel like I could go out to many places and ask questions about roasting or selecting beans, or brewing methods, or any of that. A lot of our discovery was just through trial and error, and figuring stuff out for ourselves. It was also hard as well because a lot of Cafes that you’d go into, lets say a couple of years ago, you’d ask for– you probably wouldn’t even use the term cold brew, just ask for an ice coffee. In that case, most places would be just putting some ice in a glass and then puling a shot of espresso over that, and then just topping up with water, and that was your ice coffee. Even if you ask for coffee, chances are that you’d probably have some sort of sugary milk thing going with it as well.
Brendan: Mixer then, huh?
Dustin: Yes, probably cold drip was what started opening that market in Australia. There was really elaborate contractions with the curved glass tubing. They are visual spectacle that looks really cool in a café. That’s how that market started opening up because people would see these crazy contraction they’re like, “Oh, what is that?” Then they could start talking about cold drip.
Brendan: But even with those things I — when I first saw one of those I said, “I can’t operate one of those. Look at that thing, it’s so complex.”
Dustin: Yes, they definitely look for– it’s funny though because in theory the principle of what they’re doing is so simple.
Brendan: It’s so simple, yes. [laughs]
Dustin: Even today, if you go into a really well respected café and ask for a cold brew, chances are they’ll be able to pull out a bottle from the fridge and pour you a glass. I was at a place awhile back, and I said, “Oh, do you guy serve cold brew? They’re like, “Yes, yes, no problem.” They brought just an espresso over ice. I think the terminology of it is something that hasn’t yet become its own thing. It’s a universal term for just cold coffee in general.
Brendan: We see the same thing here in the States. Cold brew is a lot more popular, and the process is getting standardized, I would say. But there is still some gray area there where there are shops that say they have cold brew, but its literally just hot coffee that was brewed hot and poured over ice.
Dustin: Yes, and it’s something that initially in our hearts we get a little bit rubbed the wrong way when it’s not what our product is. We’ve learned to let go because at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what method of brewing you use. Just the introduction of cold coffee as a new product is helpful, whether it be from competitors or from cafes that are serving it incorrectly named. It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, because it’s just something that takes time to become familiar to others. I’m sure eventually cold brew will be known as what we define it as, but right now it doesn’t matter so much.
Brendan: Right. There is that period where it’s being introduced to the market, everybody is becoming familiar with it, and it just takes time.
Dustin: Yes, that’s right.
Brendan: You guys as a small business, when did you say you guys started?
Dustin: Yes, I never really answered that question, late 2015. I think it was November or December when we actually registered as a company.
Brendan: Okay, so coming up on a couple of years here.
Dustin: Yes, we didn’t actually start really bottling and manufacturing until early 2016. That was more the experimental phase, where we were dabbling and understanding how do we develop relationships? So stockist. And how do we ship our product? There was a lot of learning going into that first year. This year was probably the main one that we actually saw ourselves as operating a business, and having regular orders and everything.
Brendan: Nice. In doing all that, did you guys find that you were coming into a little feedback, or push backs saying like, “Why do I need cold brew, or why do I need this type of coffee?” Did you find yourselves having to educate everybody you were introducing the product to?
Dustin: Yes, I guess in some ways. There is definitely people that just get it straightaway, either they’ve had experience with cold brew from traveling, or they just understand the value and having coffee that they can keep in their fridge, and just pour out whenever they want. It really doesn’t take too long. We’ve tried to embed so many little details into our product, in terms of the coffee we are using and the water we are using, and the packaging we are using.
There was a pretty big story behind how our product ended up in the world. Once people understand that story and they can see that you’re doing something that’s genuine and honest, and not just trying to sell them something they don’t need, that conversation becomes a lot easier.
Brendan: Sure, that make sense. You mentioned you guys are talking to stockist, so you guys are in local markets and stores?
Dustin: Yes, that’s right. Our product currently sits really well in the health food inorganic market. There is a lot of little shops that are independent grocers that will just have our product in the fridge, so people can pick up their fruit and veg, and also take a bottle of coffee home with them. That seems to be the most successful area where we’re selling right now, but there is also cafes that stock our ready-to-drink. It’s just because they either the scale they’re too small, they can’t afford to brew their own cold brew, or maybe they just don’t have time, which is probably more the case. So they just bring in our cold brew, and if anyone asks for it then it’s just ready to go.
Brendan: That’s nice, so you’re able to partner with existing cafes, that’s really cool. Then how about competition in your area? Do you guys have– are there other cold brew companies local to you guys?
Dustin: Yes, for sure. There is probably three or four main cold coffee products that are bottled in a way that’s similar to ours. It’s really funny because– The way that we’ve been taught about business is a lot of things are held close to your chest. There is not a lot of sharing and competition is something you should be worried about, but we’ve never really gotten too caught up in that. We embrace the fact there is other people out there doing what we’re doing, because it helps spread that idea. I think the market is so open that right now the competition side doesn’t feel like anyone is cramped for space, do you know what I mean?
Brendan: Yes, that make sense. The other few products that you mentioned, are those larger national scale type products, are those just small local companies that are producing as well, or a little both?
Dustin: Yes, most of them are just small local companies, which should be in our scale in terms of size. It’s interesting, actually recently I was driving around Melbourne, and I saw this massive billboard for one of the largest milk based bottled coffee products. They were advertising that they are now selling this cold brew coffee in a bottle. It’s a massive nationwide company. It’s like one of the largest milk companies in Australia that’s now selling a cold brew product.
Either they’ve got executives that have other markets as well like North America, and they know what’s working there, or they’ve just caught wind of the fact that cold brew is catching on in Australia and they’re trying to jump on that as quick as they can. Again, either way it doesn’t matter now that cold brew is on a massive billboard. Think of how much exposure that everyone is seeing cold brew a lot more now.
Brendan: Right. In a way they’re advertising for you guys as well.
Dustin: Yes, for sure.
Brendan: Just draws people’s attention to it.
Brendan: Well, great. One of these other topics that I’ve got noted here is shelf-life and best before date. What are your thoughts on that? I know that’s something that we always get asked here in the States, and never really a clear answer. At least in the states it seems to vary from state to state in terms of getting a shelf stability rating. How do you found that process in Australia?
Dustin: Sorry if there is a bit of noise in the background. My dog is deciding to just have a good old scratch on the carpet.
Dustin: Yes, shelf life is something that’s I’ve always found really interesting because a lot of people are asking the question on the podcast, and I’m sure you guys get emails everyday about it. We went through the naïve process of saying, “I think when you sell a food product you have to know how long it last.” Then, it was kind of like, “Well, how do you know how long.” Then we went through the process of researching food laboratories and finding somewhere that would be able to do the shelf life testing for us. We–
Brendan: Your dog’s getting after it back there, isn’t he or she?
Brendan: Your dog’s getting after it back there?
Dustin: Yes, I apologize.
Brendan: No worries.
Dustin: She should be done in a moment. She’s just waking up.
Brendan: What kind of dog?
Dustin: She’s a little Italian greyhound, about the size of a cat.
Dustin: We found a lab that specializes in testing food products. Basically, we brew the coffee in the exact same way that we would during production and we put it in the same packaging. You take then the samples, and they just keep it in the fridge because that’s how we specify our product to be stored. So they replicate the storage method as well. Then they just do interval testings. If you know that you’re hoping for product to last, let’s say, five weeks or six weeks or whatever it is, they’ll kind of divide up intervals into microbial testing of the liquid.
Basically, what they’re looking for is growth, to see how things are changing in the product. Then they come back with a report saying what they found. Then they have a recommendation on how long that product should be able to sit on shelves and stores.
We thought that this is what everyone did. It wasn’t really until I started listened to the podcast that I heard that there is a lot of ambiguity out there about trying to find statistics on it. What we’ve learned is that because everyone’s processes are different, the beans they’re using are different, ambient temperature is different, it’s really important to get each individual product tested. It’s really nice as well because it gives you the confidence when you go into a store. Because that’s one of the first questions that people ask us, “How long does it last?” Boom, we’ve got an answer that we can actually know has science behind it rather than just kind of this, “Aah, it should be about this long.”
Brendan: I’ve kept it in my fridge for three weeks before.
Dustin: Yes, that’s right. It’s funny that you mentioned, in one of your emails, about drinking some cold brew that was over a year old.
Brendan: Yes. It’s actually sitting on the shelf behind me. It’s sat on my shelf in the office for one year, ambient temperature. Taste awful now.
Dustin: I remember we had a similar scenario where we had brewed a whole bunch of coffee to fill for some product shots, I think we’re doing for a website or something. Then anyway, we had been taking those bottles around with us whenever we’re doing an event, just to have some product on display. You might have to give me one sec because my dog is trying to escape. She’s a bit annoying like this.
Brendan: No problem.
Dustin: Give me just two seconds.
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Dustin: Sorry, about that. I think we’re in the clear.
Brendan: No worries.
Dustin: She’s got free range to move around there. Yes, sorry. So I was saying, we have this display product. I think it was probably one year two months or something like that. Oh, man, my dog is just killing it today. Now she’s eating breakfast in the room as opposed to out in the kitchen.
Brendan: It adds a little color to our show.
Dustin: Yes. Well, you don’t want to cover up the realities of life. Not everything can be instagramed.
It was a year and two months old and I decided that I was just going to taste it just to see what it look like. Because if you hold it up into the light, it’s perfectly crystal clear. There might be a tiny bit of sediment down the bottom of the bottle, but there’s nothing really in there that looked too scary. So, I cracked it open and poured a glass. I definitely didn’t finish the glass. But it didn’t taste bad. It tasted like just really boring coffee, essentially.
Brendan: Wow. So, you didn’t notice a huge change in flavor, I guess.
Dustin: No, it’s just being–
Brendan: It obviously changed, but–
Dustin: Really flat and just bland.
Dustin: Yes, it wasn’t exciting anymore [laughs].
Brendan: Yes, I don’t know what happened to ours. It was in contact with sunlight. It was in a clear bottle, a plastic bottle. So maybe it leaves some plastics in there. Yes, ours wasn’t too great.
Dustin: Well, I definitely wouldn’t recommend anyone drinking cold brew after that one. But it does go to show that it’s a pretty stable product.
Brendan: Yes, for sure, I think if good processes were taken. We were saying that we’d like to do the same thing, purge a bottle of nitrogen, fill one absolutely to the max and cap it and store them again for a year and see what happens.
Dustin: Yes, that’d be really interesting.
Brendan: Yes, good little test. Out of curiosity, what’s your product rated for? What you guys say your shelf life is?
Dustin: So, we had approval for six weeks, refrigerated, but we stamp all of our products for five weeks best before. The thing with cold brew is, it is a really vibrant drink when you’re thinking about the flavors of the coffee. We kind of find that that does start to taper off after about two weeks. But then we’ve also got to respect the fact that for working with independent grocers, they don’t have the same product moving through their stores. So, we wanted to balance having a really good quality coffee, but also having something that is viable for them to sell in their stores.
Dustin: Yes, which is why we kind of capped it at five weeks. We know we’re well under that mark in terms of safety of our product, but five weeks is a pretty good shelf life for most products.
Brendan: Any thoughts on being able to gain or increase shelf stability within cold coffee without adding preservatives or additives.
Dustin: Yes, I think you guys have probably brought some valuable people in to record episodes with regarding nitrogen dosing and other methods. I think for us, at the scale that we’re at, without getting crazy with machinery and equipment, I think the thing that we have the most control over is sanitization and processor or procedures and making sure that follow everything exactly every time that we brew. When you’re doing smaller batches, there are a lot of variables when it comes to cold brewing. You just got to keep an eye on all of that and make sure that there’s minimal contact with foreign surfaces. We brew in completely sanitized stainless steel environment. I think that’s really what’s allowed us to have that consistency in our products.
Brendan: The key factor.
Brendan: Got it. Well, we’re talking about kind of making your product, would you mind sharing your process with us? That’s a question that we get asked multiple times a day like, “How long should I brew? What should the ratio of bean?” I like to ask people on the show just so anybody who’s listening can say, “Oh, that’s kind of a starting point that I want to shoot for.”
Dustin: Yes, sure. There’s a couple of really important things that we found. One of them is obviously grinding basically right at the point of brewing. So, if anyone is getting started with cold brew, I would say– If you’re going to get it ground at a cafe if you don’t have a grinder at home, make sure you pick a cafe that’s within 10 to 15 minutes. And you just go home straight away and get it into water. Because we’ve just found that a lot of those flavors– like when you smell ground coffee, it smells absolutely delicious, but the longer those grounds are left not being submerged in the water, you’re losing a lot of those flavors and that aroma.
Dustin: We basically grind straight away, and then get those coffee grounds submerged in water so that we’re trying to retain as much of that as possible.
Brendan: Okay. Yes, I know that I’ve talked to people who do that. They grind right into their cold brew system and then start adding water at the same time. But I don’t think I’ve had anybody specifically say it the way that you had, just get those grounds in the water as soon as you can. That’s an interesting point.
Dustin: Well, it’s kind of funny because I remember talking to a smaller roaster in Melbourne. He was telling me that he had this large company kind of call up. They wanted to buy some coffee for employees or like a Christmas party or something. He said, “Yes, I want to buy a coffee for everyone. Can you grind it?” The guy was like, “Well, no. I’m not going to grind the coffee if you’re not doing this event for a little while.” The guy on the phone couldn’t understand why. So, his explanation of coffee beans was actually something that’s really stuck with me. It’s probably relevant to you guys as well doing a lot of draft and beer products. But he said, “Coffee beans are essentially like a bottle of beer. You wouldn’t go to a liquor store. to buy a case of beer and ask the person there to crack all the lids on the beer before you left” It is really relevant because that’s how coffee is, it’s this nice sealed little packet of ingredients and you don’t want to open and tell me to use it.
Brendan: Flavor and aroma, yes. Interesting. Yes, that’s an interesting way to think about it.
Dustin: Yes. In terms of brewing I guess our ratios change depending on the coffee that we’re using, but I have a very complex method of working out how much coffee. If you consider your weight in water, our coffee ratio that goes into that is 15% of the weight of our water. That’s basically how we equate that. Instead of using like a pre-determined coffee amount per liter, it just allows us to be a bit more flexible on saying, “Okay, we’re aiming for a brew of this size so now we know that we need this much coffee.” That’s just been a really easy way for us to calculate it.
Brendan: All right, so you guys just weigh it out.
Dustin: Yes, pretty much.
Brendan: Nice. Okay and then how about time and temperature.
Dustin: Yes, so we’re brewing at ambient temperature, which in Australia I guess would probably be maybe a little bit warmer than some parts of the US. Normally, it’s about 20 °C is room temperature here. We’re brewing for anywhere between 16 and 24 hours depending on the bean that we’re using.
Brendan: All right. Pretty standard in terms of the general range, I would say, in terms of time. Well, cool I think we’ve just about covered everything. I just had a couple other questions about the cold brew scene in Australia in general. If you can speak to that at all.
Dustin: Yes. There’s definitely some interesting things being done. There’s a couple of cafes which I would class as the leaders in terms of trying to innovate within coffee products. They were some of the first people that actually installed the tap and had nitrogen on tap in the cafe. I haven’t really seen any packaged versions of nitro, it’s all just in cold brew in bottles on the shelves in stores. But it’s definitely growing. Like I was saying before, with that advertisement that I saw it just clicked in my head that I think it’s really starting to gain traction probably like it was in the US maybe three years ago four years ago something like that.
Japan is almost another country– I traveled through Japan not long ago, and they are absolutely in love with cold coffee. With things like Instagram and social media news spreads a lot quicker. When you see what people are doing in other parts of the world and knowing that Melbourne is considered one of the coffee hubs– I think it’s a city that really allows for experimentation and innovation and people almost crave it. I feel, yes, cold brew is going to start picking up here.
Brendan: Right on. You see a definite upward swing, huh?
Dustin: Yes, for sure.
Brendan: Cool. Well, that just about wraps everything up here, Dustin. Anything you’d like to add before we–
Dustin: No, I think that’s probably pretty good. Thank you so much for allowing us to have a chat. It’s good to follow along with the podcast and see what other people are doing and how quickly it is evolving.
Brendan: Yes, definitely. If people want to go find you guys either on your website or social media, where can they do? Where can they go to find you?
Dustin: Our website is just rushmorecoffee.com. We’re on Instagram and Facebook under the same name. Hopefully, if you google us you’ll find us.
Brendan: All right. Go check out Rushmore Coffee people.
All right, Dustin. Well I think that’ll about do it. Go give your dog a scratch behind the ears for me. Thanks for joining us.
Dustin: Thanks so much, Brendan.
Brendan: All right, take care.
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Brendan: All right. Another big thank you to Dustin Bailey from Rushmore Coffee for joining me today. If you’re looking for links or show notes from this episode, you can find those by going to dripsanddraughts.com/63. Remember this episode was part of our series on Australian cold brew companies. If you’re looking for part one of the series, that’s episode number 61 with Filament Coffee or you can tune in in two weeks from today for episode 65, where will be joined by Bellerophon Cold Brew.
We’ve also got another couple of companies lined up to speak with, and we’ll be releasing these episodes every other week, so stay tuned for that. I think that about does it for today. As always, if you ever have any questions for us let us know. Shoot us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call us at 888.620.2739 ext 6. That’s it for today, we’ll see you again next week on the Drips & Draughts podcast.