Today we talk with Ryan Reaux from Bright-Eyed Brew Company based out of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Ryan’s got a very interesting nitro-cart setup where he serves nitro-coffee mobile, plus he’s got a couple different serving options, one of which he calls the Kentucky, which absolutely sounds amazing. I imagine that Cary or myself is probably going to try making a version of that very soon here.
Highlights & Takeaways
The Kentucky – Cold brew with a Kentucky bourbon simple syrup
Bright Eyed Brew Co is an entirely mobile cafe
Episode 41 Transcript
Brendan Hanson: Hey everyone, welcome back to the Drips and Draughts Podcast, hopefully all of your 2017’s are off to a good start. We’ve got a fun episode for you today. We’re joined by Ryan Reaux of Bright-Eyed Brew Company out of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Ryan’s got a very interesting nitro-cart setup where he serves nitro-coffee mobile, plus he’s got a couple different serving options, one of which he calls the Kentucky, which absolutely sounds amazing. I imagine that Cary or“ myself is probably going to try making a version of that very soon here.
If you’re looking for links or show notes from today’s episode you can find those by going to dripsanddraughts.com/41. Without further ado, let’s get into today’s episode with Ryan Reaux from Bright-Eyed Brew Company.
All right. Welcome back to the Drips & Draughts Podcast, as always I’m Brendan Hanson, I got Cary in studio with me and we’re joined by Ryan Reaux. Am I saying that correct?
Ryan Reaux: Reaux. Like Mayeaux but Reaux. [laughs]
Brendan: I think we went through that via social media once before.
Brendan: Ryan, welcome. Ryan is from a Bright-Eyed Brew Company. How are you doing?
Ryan: Good bro. How are you all? Cary what is up?
Brendan: Doing good. [crosstalk]
Cary: Doing good.
Brendan: So tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into coffee.
Ryan: My name is Ryan and actually it’s a fairly long story but I’ll shorten it up. I’m 27 years old and I live in Biloxi, Mississippi. Our company is based at Ocean Springs, Mississippi. I actually got introduced to coffee back in [sigh] late 2007-2008. We got hit by Hurricane Katrina like really bad and I met this group out of Seattle, Washington with a local church that was going to here connected with a Cavalry Gulf Coast up in Seattle or just north of Seattle Lake Stevens. I connected with them they came down multiple times to help rebuild on the coast and ended up making friends with them.
A month after I graduated high school, in 2007, I moved to Seattle for six months and I got a job and that was really my first introduction to–because up in Seattle it’s absolutely ridiculous. You have these little coffee shops on every little corner. It’s like snowball stands in the South. It’s there on every corner. I remember at one point you could stand in Seattle and see three or four different Starbucks at one time.
But I really came back from Seattle and it’s like, “Man, I want to open up a coffee hut.” Sounds like a ton of fun and all that, at that time when I come back, I was working for my dad. He owns a company on the coast called Coastal Communications. At that time I was working for him. I came back full time and I ended up getting laid off in 2008 for the recession that hit. All small businesses really–so I got laid off there.
About six months later I got a job in the hospitality industry for a cafe on the coast, that was brand new to the coast called Newk’s Express Cafe. Sandwiches, pizzas, salads, doing really high lunch volume. Thousand people at lunch in a few hours was cranking out like just a complete market disrupter here on the coast. So I got my feet wet in the hospitality industry. I love cooking and about three months into Newk’s– three to six months I worked my way up and I got into management and stay with them for five years and then went out on my own. I got fully licensed on financial advisory, did that for two years [then came back to the my hometown]. So currently I am a telecommunications technician; fiber optics, low-voltage, all the good stuff, commercial phone systems.
Which brings me back to coffee.
Brendan & Cary: [laughs]
There is a long story–semi-long story short. I always had this urge to do something on my own. I think anybody that starts something can always attest to that. I am basically like a podcast junkie. I listen to a ridiculous amount of podcast. Most people like, “How in the world do you have time to listen–?” Because I do things that–I may terminate 500 strands of fiber and what better opportunity than to listen to a book or a podcast? So how I get my education is through listening. I was listening to this podcast called FoodTruckr Podcast. It’s by this guy–his name is Pat Flynn and he’s got a really high-rank podcast called Smart Passive Income.
I was listening to his other podcast called FoodTruckr, I was like, “Man, that would be just a fantastic little deal to do a food truck.” Looking into the laws here on the South Mississippi Gulf Coast. Food truck–you don’t see food trucks around and there’s a reason why. It’s because just a lot of goofy laws as far as food trucks. I was like, “Okay, so how can I–?” and food trucks–I mean you’re looking at a bare minimum of probably $100,000 or more to get started.
Brendan: You got an investment their?
Ryan: Yes. Big one. I’m like, “No let’s–how about a food cart?” Still, same rules apply as far as the health department goes. And then I don’t know if I was listening to–I started listening to different types of coffee podcasts and ran across Cold Brew Coffee. I’d been drinking cold brew coffee– within the past year is really when I started drinking it so it’s all new to me.
Starbucks sells their concentrated cold brews that you can buy from them. It’s fairly good, tried it and then started experimenting on my own. I was like, “Wow.” Then listening to these podcasts, I was like, “Man, a food cart.” Oh, I’m sorry,” A coffee cart”. So I started doing research on that and then– it falls under what’s called the Cottage Law here in here in Mississippi and I could go on a tangent about that but–so the coffee cart idea kind of steamed into finding you all’s podcast, the Drips and Draughts.
I think I’ve mentioned before I literally listen to you all’s podcast within a few days, every episode.
Ryan: I mean just literally. I was listening like four to five a day while I was working. So I got pretty jacked up about this nitro cold brew coffee and had no idea what I was doing. I look back at it and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” No idea what I was doing so I just, like I said before soaked, up multiple podcast episodes, multiple times.
I’m a big personality, I always tell people I think in ink, so I write everything down. So I started going through the processes of writing what I need down, experimenting with small batches a cold room aside. So there began my journey to–now it’s turned into something that I could possibly see helping change the coffee culture here on the Gulf Coast.
Cary: That is awesome. So you said you had to go through this Mississippi Cottage Act to do it. Does that mean you’re brewing at your house and then taking your cart out, or do you have actual location you can actually brew?
Ryan: I can barely hear you, you sound like you’re really off in the distance but-
Cary: Oh really. [crosstalk]
Ryan: –I think what you’re saying is that explain a little more about the Cottage Law.
Cary: Yes, so are you brewing at home?
Ryan: Yes, correct. So all my setup is at home currently. The Cottage Law–basically coffee and water, it’s not direct in danger to the public so I can sell direct to the consumer. I can do wholesale, I can do retail type deal. Just literally direct to the consumer as of right now. I’m currently working with the health department right now to–I got some things that Ocean Springs is really, really artsy and has one of the top art festivals in the country once a year-
-and it’s a big kombucha is a really big thing that’s kind of isn’t a big thing, I guess. So like in the yoga community and the health food community, they’re all making it their own but you can’t really find any anywhere on the Gulf Coast. Walmart neighborhood market just started selling GT’s kombucha, so that branches into, I have to be able to have a commercial kitchen etc. So probably in the next 2-3 months. Not going after my own setup but sharing like you all have talked about on the podcast before, sharing a kitchen with a local cafe or whatever may be.
Brendan: Yes, that’s been something that more and more of our clients and customers have been looking into doing. So, once you get going on that we’ll have to reconvene and see about getting you on a show with a couple other of our customers. Kind of explore that a little bit.
Ryan: Yes, for sure.
Brendan: Well, cool. So tell us a little bit more about– So your company’s called Bright-Eyed Brew Co. Where did you come up with that name?
Ryan: [laughs] In the process of coming up with a name, and a lot of people–, I don’t know about you all, but you always come up with really good ideas and to follow through is a different story. I really set foot to say, “Hey, I’m going to follow through with this.” I think I had mention to you in a previous email, was to try and I guess test myself is I were was not going to use any of the current income that was coming into my household to start a company. So, I was locally buying and selling: Ebay, Amazon, selling stuff, picking up things locally, selling it on Ebay for four, five six, ten times the amount I bought it for to raise a thousand dollars to get my car built, all my tanks, my nitrogen, my taps, everything.
Bright-eyed Brew Co. came from– had about 15 people throughout that I was talking to about what I was going to be doing, where I was going with this and I had, I don’t know, 20 or 25 names. If I thought about it I write it down. Then one day, my family was at my dad’s house and, then– “So dad what do you think about when you have a cup of –like your first cup of coffee?” He’s like, ‘bright-eyed.” I was like, “That’s not bad.”
For sure you have a cup of coffee and you’re bright-eyed. So, that’s where Bright-Eyed Brew Company came from, my dad really.
Brendan: Nice. So tell us a little bit about– You’re entirely mobile correct?
Ryan: Yes, completely mobile car. As of right now it’s like a, basically like a wheelbarrow. So, I put it up in the back of my truck, take it out, setup, put my kegs in, my nitrogen and I have everything then I can wheel it around. But in the next couple of months I’m trying to come up with a joint really that goes to the back of the back tire of a wheel. Like you see parents have the kid-
Cary: Pulling their kids around.
Ryan: -pulling their kids around.
So, coming up with welding of a rigid pipe from the cart itself. And then coming into a full rotating joint on the back of the tire so I can actually bike the car around as a trailer or not really a trike but a trailer for the bike. So, Yes.
Brendan: Right now it’s hall and then push?
Ryan: That’s it. Yes.
Cary: So, are you serving both flat cold brew and nitro coffee or what’s your tap situation look like?
Ryan: The tap situation right now is strictly sound and just nitro cold brew coffee. I am selling growlers, will really courts about to be ordering some growlers, 32 ounce growlers for that. But yes just selling nitro right now and hopefully in the future be– Yes, I had the big toss-up, door. I’m not whole service cafe so I’m doing a flat cold brew. Seems kind of pointless right now-
Cary: So are you going try to be doing–
Ryan: -making multiple iced drinks etc.
Cary: Right. And your growlers those will just be flat then?
Ryan: Yes, I tell them. I tell them up front the nitrogen, it’s very light gas so it’s not going to stay in the liquid. They’re really there for the– They’re going to but on Saturday, half-a-gallon that’s going to last them all week type deal.
Brendan: I know where going to talk about your brewing process, but before we get into that, talking about your nitro coffee more. I’m ninety-nine percent sure it was you that was doing some sort of like bourbon reduction that your adding into your full brew?
Ryan: It’s become a hit. It’s sold every Saturday and I am trying to come up with some rotating drinks I’ll keep on for a few weeks, but what it’s called is the Kentucky. It’s basically a flambe bourbon, Kentucky bourbon simple syrup. So you’re making a simple syrup to heat dropping in some bourbon lightning on fire. You’re keeping all the delicious tones of the bourbon and then it’s none alcoholic. So it doesn’t overpower the nitro, so you got nitro iced simple syrup and it’s a mold mint shaken in a Boston shaker and topped with a mint sprig. It’s really, really good.
Cary: Sounds good.
Brendan: Alright, so you actually pour the nitro into a shaker and then shake it all up and pour it?
Ryan: Yes. People are loving it. I get a whole lot of, “Man you’re selling beer at a farmer’s market?” It’s like, “No. No good to you either. It’s nine o’clock in the morning.” [laughs]
Brendan & Cary: [laughs]
Ryan: I meet some strange people out there.
Brendan: That’s where bright-eyed comes from.
Brendan & Cary: [laughs]
Brendan: That sounds good,
Cary:I think it does.
Ryan: Yes, it’s coming up with some roots. I had a peppermint mocha, with a homemade mocha sauce. I had a pumpkin spice, seasonal type stuff. This weekend I’m trying to come up with a mold, like maple vanilla type deal. I haven’t really figured out if I’m going to do a maple bacon and top garnished with a piece of candy bacon.
Brendan: There you go.
Ryan: So good.
Brendan: Nothing wrong with that. [laughs]
Ryan: So good.
Brendan: Yes, so it sounds like you’re having so fun with the nitro coffee. Do you serve just straight as well?
Ryan: Yes. I have some people. Actually, I’m serving out of–and these are the–I’ll mention some things that I had. Some tough time, got information gathering as far as I serving size, what size cup am I serving in? Is it iced, no ice etc. Is it cream, no cream. How am I serving this stuff? I’ve never had nitro coffee from anywhere else. Basically, the first time I made it was the first time I had it. So, actually traveled to Alabama through work and found a cafe over there that was offering some nitro cold brew, and that was about a month and a half or so into already making it. So, I was right on track but I forgot where I was going.
Brendan: It’s crazy. It’s just not as popular down there yet. I know we talked about this a little bit for the show but did you see people are for Starbucks?
Ryan: I guess that’s one of the fun things about it, is you get to educate and talked about pop the hood on the truck typed deal. I said, “Hey check this out.” And people are like, “This is coffee?” I guess my goal is to have those people that drink coffee with cream and sugar to try it like, “Wow, I don’t even need a cream and sugar for this.”
Like I was saying before, lost my train of thought but the kind of the tougher things to find were the, “How to serve this.” So, my mixers and my whip ice is with a 16-ounce clear cup. Then my straights are with a 12-ounce clear cup. So just straight no ice nitros with a 12 ounce cup. It’s always a show, people love to see what that cold brew is doing, most of good.
Brendan: Yes, especially when you show it to somebody for the first time, you usually get a pretty good reaction. Right?
Ryan: Yes, it’s pretty cool.
Brendan: We got an episode in the bank where we had a friend come in who is a coffee lover, but had never heard or had-
— -nitro coffee, so we had him pour in some nitro coffees for himself.
Ryan: Oh cool.
Cary: Poured his own. He’s freaking out.
Brendan: Good reaction yes. Let’s talk about your cold brew process a little bit, maybe your equipment, how you are doing it, batch size and the question that we always get asked is “What ratio do you use?”.
Ryan: Yes, for sure. No secrets here, I would love to talk about it. Currently– Let’s just start at the beginning, To do some testing, I was using a 22-quart cambro, like a restaurant style cambro, to brew on the counter, not altering temperatures of water, just room temperature water. At first, I was doing five pounds of coffee concentrate so it was like five gallons of water, five pounds of coffee, just a standard one-to-one ratio type deal. Just found out that I could get more yield, I guess.
As I validated the cart at my first couple events, I was able to have some working capital to buy the next round of equipment so I bought–I’m sure you guys have heard of these–the BSG six and a half gallon brew buckets for beer brewing. I bought two of those and I got weldless bulkhead, a plastic weldless half inch bulkhead to tap at the bottom of it so right now it’s two six and a half gallon brew buckets, three pounds of coffee. What I found just testing and testing is–and especially what I say with local cafes offering cold brew, everyone was doing a concentrate. So the barrister would put x amount of ounces to x amount of ounces of water and it was never the same. I’m a huge stickler for consistency so I loved the fact to brew to drink so right now I am doing a three pound coarsely ground fresh coffee with– of my first gallon, I’ll use about 25 to 28 ounces of just off boiled hot water and it would hot bloom the three pounds of coffee for 25 seconds then immediately dump two gallons of about 38 degree, 40 degree water on it to stop the cooking process.
I found out that hot blooming coffee, before getting it ready to brew for 24 hours, is what I let it stay for, gives it more of a body to it. Currently, that’s what I’m doing, it’s three pounds of coffee, hot bloom for 25 seconds to five gallons of water-
Cary: So just very briefly.
Ryan: -and six and a half gallon bucket.
Ryan: That would fill the keg all the way up so I’m kegging it and them I’m using you all’s cascade lid. It works fabulous doing the instructions that you all are doing and then I have been brewing a day earlier than I was, I was brewing on Wednesday, kegging it on Thursday– no, I’m brewing it on Wednesday kegging it on Thursday, letting it sit Friday and serving it Saturday as of right now.
Cary: So getting it two days to nitrogenate.
Ryan: Say it again Cary, I had a hard time hearing you.
Cary: Still quiet huh? I was just saying you’ve given it two days to nitrogenate to get a fully–.
Ryan: Yes definitely, one to two days to nitrogenate condition. I really want the latte look and pour, every pour. When you’re pouring back to back, five, six, seven of them back to back, it’s looking like cold brew coffee coming out of a stout tap but giving it the extra 24 hours to sit on that Nitrogen gives it a really latte look every single pour.
Cary: Pretty consistently.
Ryan: Yes, pretty consistently.
Brendan: Good, good. Gosh I think that more or less covers everything we’ve got on the list.
Ryan: I was filtering, I didn’t touch on filtering, this has been tricky because cold brew is messy. [laughs] It can get messy so right now, six and a half gallon bucket, a nylon bag so it’s not loose. I had the nylon brew bag and there’s this craft beer shop down the road and he’s been helping me out a lot as far as the process, just making the process a little easier. So a nylon bag and then I found on amazon a food grade 400. What is it called? A micron bio-diesel strainer. It was like five bucks or six bucks. It sits on the top of a bucket and you strain the coffee on top of the strainer, 400 microns strainer. But as of right now in the next few days I’m getting in–everybody has heard of the toddy and I’m really doing two five gallon batches at time. I’m doing nylon bag toddy paper filter and then just directly strain off the cold brew from the bulkhead with the ball valve on it.
Cary: Alright, got it.
Brendan: Yes those bio-diesel strainers are interesting, I know our neighbor had a bio-diesel car, he was getting-
Cary: Used vegetable oil–
Brendan: -used vegetable oil so you would have to strain it all because there’ll be tempura floating in it if you got it from a [unintelligible 00:27:36] So he’d have to strain it all out, but you’d smell him coming down the street, he’ll smell like french fires and stuff. It was very interesting.
Ryan: Yes, there is a bunch of people that do bio-diesel around the coast here. It’s quite funny.
Brendan: Yes, I bet. Well, cool so before we let you go, what’s your favorite way to drink coffee right now?
Ryan: Men, Brendan, I’ll tell you what, it’s really hard to get away from because I bought a gallon and a half keg, it’s really hard not to brew a couple batches of those a week and have it on tap here at the house and my wife loves that, she won’t drink hot coffee anymore it’s just strictly cold brew or nitro coffee. I’ll have to say the same but I do occasionally like that hot cup of coffee so I’ve been actually roasting my own beans here and there, I have a few pounds on its way and I like to do the occasional v60 pour-overs or add a little clever dripper that I use but, yes, do that or a flash brew. I do like doing old flash with just brewing directly over ice.
Brendan: Right on. Cool, if anybody wants to check out Bright-Eyed Brew Co, where can they go to do that?
Ryan: Basically, Facebook or Instagram, Bright-Eyed Brew Co, @brighteyedbrewco reach out to me there, I’ll be willing to help anybody out who’s starting a little coffee cart business or needs some instructions on whatever it might be.
Brendan: Alright Ryan, good talking with you, I appreciate you taking the time to come on the show.
Cary: Thanks for coming on.
Ryan: Thanks man, I appreciate you all for having me, love what you all are doing, keep going at it. You all are doing some big things helping a lot of people, I know for sure you all have helped me a ton.
Brendan: Glad to hear it.
Ryan: Thanks you all. Have a good one.
Brendan: Alright man, thank you.
Cary: Have a good one.
Brendan: Alright, thanks again to Ryan Reaux for joining us today, make sure you go check him out if you’re ever in the gulf coast of Mississippi. Also, check him out on Instagram, he’s a very active Instagram user, you can find him at @brighteyedbrewco. We’ll also put a link to that in the show notes. As always, it’s time for me to ask you to review this podcast. Hop on to iTunes next time you get a moment and leave us a quick review.
Also, we’re always looking for new guests to have on the show. We’ve got a few episodes ready to go lined up but if you’re interested in being a guest on the show, head on over to dripsanddrafts.com/guests or maybe you just want us to get somebody on the show, let us know, we’re happy to-
–reach out to people and try to get new guests on the show, anything to help better our episodes for you guys. In fact, that’s how we got Heather Perry and Todd Goldsworthy on the show. It was a couple of our listeners who reached out and said that we should get the Klatch coffee cold brew champions to come on the show. So we reached out and they obliged. If you haven’t heard that episode, that’s a good one to check out. You can go back and find that by going to dripsanddraughts.com/32 or you can obviously find it in our iTunes catalogue or on Stitcher or Google Play.
All right I think that’s about going to do it for today. Thanks to Cary for joining me in our “studio”. Thanks to Ryan Reaux from Bright Eye Brew Co. I’m Brendan Hanson and we’ll see you again next Friday.
Speaker: [background music] Are you looking to learn more about cold brew and draft coffee? Join us in the cold brew avenue private community to connect with and learn from other cold brew and draft coffee professionals plus get access to exclusive content such as eBooks, How to videos, buyers guides and more. You can learn more and apply for membership at forum.coldbrewavenue.com. Thanks to Keg Alev for sponsoring this Podcast.Thank you to everyone who has contributed questions and you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. That does it for this week but looking forward to seeing you again for the next episode of Drips and Draughts.
Mentioned in this Show
Making a flambee Kentucky bourbon reduction in order to create “Kentucky Bourbon Simple Syrup” – How to