In this episode, we talk with David Wasserman from Joes on the Nose in San Diego, CA. David’s mobile coffee company has been operating since 2007 and they’ve been cold brewing coffee for the duration of that time. When it comes to equipment, David has tried it all, and was always left looking for more. Recently, he upgraded to the Cold Brew Avenue Stainless Steel Cold Brew Coffee System and he hasn’t looked back. We talk with David about some of his processes, from steeping time to coffee to water ratios, and finally, we talk about why he loves the stainless steel so much.
Highlights & Takeaways
Cold brew should be used as a descriptor rather than a noun
CBA Stainless Steel Cold Brew System has increased yields
The Big Orange Truck was actually purchased on eBay
Episode 43 Transcript
Brendan: Hey welcome to another episode of the Drips and Draughts podcast. Today on the show we are joined by David Wasserman from Joes on the Nose in San Diego. We’ll be talking cold brew and ice cream trucks. Before we talk cold brew or before we talk ice cream trucks, we got to talk beer.
Cary: [laughs] Our favorite subject next to coffee.
Brendan: Got a good bomber today.
Cary: We did, we got Adam Carolla’s endless rant.
Brendan: The king of podcasting
Cary: The king of podcasting yes. When I saw this at Total Wine I was like, we’ve got to get this for one of our podcast, because sometimes I feel like we just rant as well [laughs]
Brendan: Nowhere like Carolla does.
Cary: Probably not as much as him.
Brendan: He’s pretty local to us we got to have him send a case. Maybe we could get him to bring one out.
Cary: Brewed by King Harbor brewing company in Redondo Beach, so less than an hour from us. On the back here, this is funny, “I’d like to make a statement and then another and another and another. And I don’t settle when it comes to cars, politics, music or beer.”
Brendan: Nice. Beer.
Cary: West coast style IPA, malty pretty hoppy, a little cloudy at the end not filtered obviously but all in all, a good beer. Well done Adam. I hope you helped brew this. And didn’t just put you name on it.
Brendan: He grew the hops.
Cary: Oh yes [laughter]
Brendan: Alright moving on, getting into today’s episode. We’re joined by again David Wasserman. If you’re looking for show notes for this episode you find those by going to dripsanddraughts.com/43. Let’s get into today’s episode with David Wasserman.
Welcome back to Drips and Draughts podcast, as always am Brendan Hanson, today I’ve got Cary in the studio with me and we are joined by David Wasserman from Joes on the Nose in San Diego. How’re you doing David?
David: Good, thanks, how are you guys? I’m good.
Brendan: We’re good. Before we get going, talking about coffee would you mind giving us a little intro to yourself and a little background?
David: Absolutely Joes on the Nose is a coffee business opened up in 2007, we started out as the coffee trucks, so not a brick and mortar. We’re actually the longest continually running gourmet quote on quote, food truck or coffee truck in the state of California. Serving lots of different drinks out of a pretty crazy menu out of our truck.
My background with coffee is that I started doing research before building the truck and opening the business for around a year and a half or two years talking to coffee roasters, researching coffee, tasting coffee. Which was a certainly different time back in 2007 because there wasn’t as many specialty coffee shops or roasters around, self taught slash learn on the go and we’ve been open ever since with an expanding audience and menu as well.
Brendan: Nice so entirely mobile?
David: Our business is split between our bright orange coffee truck that goes around to area events and farmers markets and quite a bit of catering and also we do smaller or larger espresso bar stations for conventions, weddings, cooperate meetings a little bit of everything. We’ve even done a couple of funerals.
Cary: You stay pretty much local on the San Diego area?
David: We do yes, we have gone out of town for some larger events for clients that wanted us to travel with them which- not with our track but with our catering but yes we do travel for that.
Brendan: The other orange truck looks like- It reminds me of an old ice cream truck, is that what it is?
David: It actually was an ice cream truck, originally it was our old postal van. Someone converted it into an ice cream truck and bought off of them on e-bay and I converted it myself into basically a coffee shop on wheels.
Brendan: Nice, so it’s got a little history?
David: It does yes. It’s been through a bunch, we met the last owner, or one of the owners years ago in some of the wild fires that were happening in Santiago.
We donated- the coffee roaster I work with and I decided to drive down to a Qualcomm stadium, San Diego Chargers Stadium where people were getting evacuated to and we drove around the parking lot where people were staying in campers and tents, and gave away coffee there. One of the people we were served coffee too ended up looking at our truck and saying, “Hey wait this used to be my truck.” Its pretty cool.
Brendan: Small world?
David: Yes, there was a pitch in custom stainless bumper on the back, so he recognized.
Brendan: Was it orange when you bought it or was that your doing?
David: It was not. It was my doing or my paint job’s doing, so yes, we wanted to do something fun and crazy, and orange was the kind of feel good color and one of my favorite colors. We went with that and it kind of fitted in with our surf themed business.
Brendan: Right on.
David: It was a dirty white ice cream truck.
Cary: [laughs] No one wants dirty ice-cream [laughs] or dirty coffee for that matter.
David: It was sitting a while, it wasn’t dirty ice cream, or it wasn’t kept up I’m just saying it was.
Brendan: You said you started up in 2007, this will be your 10 year anniversary then?
David: It will be yes, we opened up the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in 2007. I don’t remember the date but it’s saved on a computer calendar somewhere.
David: Yes. Back in way back calendar, if you go back 10 years. Yes I’ve been gone for a while, one daughter on the way and we’re still getting new customers and waking up San Diego one cup at a time.
Cary: You’ve actually been cold brewing coffee since 07 or is that something you got into a little bit later?
David: When we first started there were few different ways that people were making ice coffee, cold brew wasn’t being talked about then. Cold brew method. Back then people were either taking hot coffee and letting it cool off and put in their fridge. People were either taking coffee brewing it drip style through machine and brewing it extra strong, in order to dilute it with ice cubes to chill it down. But those methods never produced particularly good tasting cup of coffee. My father probably still only makes his coffee- takes old coffee he made and puts it in the fridge.
We needed a way that we can produce not only a really great cup of coffee but also one we cold store quite a bit of on the go. Cold brew was the method that we found somehow and used a small filtron home used method. Later a larger commercial size method to brew amounts that we needed.
Because we would brew it as a concentrate, then we would dilute it, to order, for customers. We ended up storing quite a bit in our refrigerator on our truck, and serve more as we went. We really started cold brewing ice coffee for storage reasons in a funny way as well as for taste.
Brendan: And to get more bank from your buck so to say, nice storage area [unintelligible 00:08:12]
David: It was also easier to use these [unintelligible 00:08:15] containers that had good silt, sealed caps, than using a pitcher and a refrigerator in a truck, that would shake around and bounce around as we drove down the free way.
Brendan: With your cold brew you’re diluting it you’re serving just standard coffee drinks. You guys do mixed drinks or anything, or primarily ice, coffees?
David: We do a few different things. We don’t do growlers, we don’t do bottles. In the truck we do it as served by the cup as cold or ice coffee. We also do use our cold brew for some specialty drinks as well. We do one that we actually use the concentrate for.
We always have a backup of concentrate in our truck and we use it for coffee cocktail, non-alcohol cocktail, coffee soda that we use, with simple syrup, club soda and a few other ingredients. We also keg our coffees for catering with kegarator and we serve it on nitro on flat coffee as well.
Brendan: Awesome, nice.
David: We like to use it in a few different ways.
Brendan: There’s no shortage of ways to use coffee especially when you start charging up with Nitrogen.
David: Absolutely yes. We only started doing that within last year, so relatively recently for us.
Brendan: Cool, you mentioned that you guys do a concentrate, would you mind sharing your ratio on the show, that’s a question that we always get asked as how much coffee and water.
David: Absolutely, let me just prefix this by saying a lot of people are too protective of their brew ratios, that even if you talked to other coffee roasters or friends like, “how do you brew ice coffee?” there is no information online people can look up brew ratios for any other kind of brew method, in coffee I feel like, online.
And we developed ours at same ratio from when we first started, which makes for a pretty damn strong concentrate. We use the same ratios in larger volume nowadays.
The dilution method, its probably up to you, but for a larger batch that we use, we use twenty pounds ground coffee, we do not go super coarse, French press, a little coarser than a drip setting and we
use 10 gallons of water. And then we brew for around 14 or 16 hours and then extract. Pretty damn strong.
Brendan: Yeah, no kidding.
David: It will put some hair on chest but also you can use any which way. You can dilute it less or more. As I said, we can serve it also undiluted for use in other drinks as well.
Even for a little while we served a drink called the kick-ass, that was just [unintelligible 00:11:07] concentrate over ice and that’s 12 ounce cup, which we charge undercharge what it was but people loved it. Then we stopped serving it because we realized [unintelligible 00:11:17] dangerous to serve.
Brendan: Costing you a lot.
David: Yes. It’s a crap ton of caffeine. I couldn’t drink it, but we had a few customers that completely freaked out over it and loved it. Some still order it and I’m like, “We don’t really do that anymore.” [laughter] But definitely a good drink option if you want to figure out your cost on it and charge a bit more than that it’s a fun drink. People always laughed about it then they drink and then they’d be like, “Holy crap.”
Cary: Hey David. On your concentrate ratio you said 20 pounds of coffee to 10 gallons of water. What do you actually yield out of that? I imagine you’d lose a bit from the grounds.
David: It’s funny because now that we switch to the stainless kettle for brewing, we actually do a better yield that we use to use partially because of the new filter system. But we’re yielding around- it’s really, I swear there’s no exact- it’s never exactly the same even though it should be exactly the same, but it usually yields around seven to eight gallons of concentrate. Then we’ll take that concentrate for coffee and dilute it a little more than one to one. It’s really one part coffee to 1.2 amount of water volume..
Cary: Got it. Got it. I’ve got you. I’ve got you. Nice.
David: Still this is our really full bodied flavorful and terribly caffeinated cup of coffee.
Brendan: I bet. Then your dilution, you said, is to a taste. I know some people measure and they want to make sure they’re diluting to a specific TDS every time. Primarily you mix to taste?
David: Yes. We don’t measure on that. We’re old school on coffee, with new school things about us. Yes, people will check everything and measure things like that. We are much more interested in what is actually taste like.
I’m always fascinated by doing those readings, and people checking things out and seeing concentration and seeing what it’s actually going to taste like. But even with espresso our palette is the most important gauge in our business. If it doesn’t taste great then I don’t want to serve it.
Brendan: We got your ratio. Would you mind telling us about your process a little bit. I know we mentioned before the show, I was checking out your Instagram page and it looked like you were agitating your coffee but you said that was just due to the freshness of your coffee, it was bubbling.
Would you mind sharing the process, how you go about brewing. Do you layer coffee and water into the brew system?
David: In short, it’s pretty easy. Grind our coffee fresh right before we brew. I mentioned before, we don’t grind our coffee super coarse. Certainly, courser than a drip coffee grind, depending what grinder you’re using it’s any number of settings, but a little coarser than a drip coffee setting. No matter any kind of drip coffee setting. Then we layer that in the bottom of our filter. We still us an old filter basket from you guys.
We don’t have the new one yet but we will soon. We pour the water right on top and then we let it sit. We don’t do it in our walk ins, every one hour, we’re doing cold brewing refrigeration to see what it’s like. We’re still doing it countertop. I keep trying different methods to see what, how it’s going to affect flavor. We haven’t done cold brewing in our walk in refrigerator but I’ve yet to find a something that really significantly changed the outcome of what we’re doing.
Brendan: Okay. Then water. Do you have any specific water requirements that you use? I know some people–
David: Yes. We don’t use San Diego tap water [laughter] we just don’t. No offense to any tap water but we got some old pipes in our commercial kitchen space. Yes, we don’t use bottled water like we have in the past. We have these glacier water machines that are super filtered water, softened water as well that we can go to machines and get it.
It’s the best quality water at a reasonable price. We have used water from the water stores but it affects our cost quite a bit. These machines are all over San Diego. I assume they’re all over everywhere now, but water is of course a main portion of your coffee, whether hot or cold. Obviously, use the best water you can because it’s going to affect the flavor of your coffee.
Brendan: You’d just mentioned hot or cold. Maybe you could help us define cold brew. That’s something we’ve been asking past guest is what is cold brew? There’s so many different methods to quote on quote, cold brew coffee.
David: As we discussed a little bit before. I am a big proponent of letting people know that cold brew is a modifier. It’s an adjective. It’s a description of a brew method, it’s not a noun. Even when you go to the store or your local coffee shop and say, “I’ll have a cold brew.” For us that doesn’t really describe anything. It’s like, I’ll have something but it’s- cold brewing is simply a brew method.
We cold brew our ice teas as well. For me it’s just an important distinction to make. You can have cold brew coffee. You can have cold brew tea. You can do cold brew kombucha. You can do cold brewed whatever you want.
Cary: You can do cold brewed coffee sometimes.
David: Even when customers order cold brew, I always have our staff check, “Well, what kind of cold brew do you want?” You’re describing a brew method, not an actual drink. Many people would disagree with me nowadays but I still like that it’s a method not a noun.
Brendan: Sure. I’ve got you. All right. Moving on a little bit. We talked about your brew process. I know you transitioned from using a plastic filtron filter, mesh bag type setup to the stainless steel system. Would you mind commenting on that a little bit? Why the move?
David: We faithfully use the Filtron pro with a cotton filter for many years. I always want to go to stainless steal for a number of reasons. First is for cleaning and sanitizing it’s easy to sanitize and clean stainless steel. Acrylic or plastic, no matter what it’s made of, you can never quite- we would sanitize it, we would soak it, you’re scrubbing it getting coffee oils out of it, especially with the brew ratios that we’re using.
Even with a cotton filter it still got stained over the years and stainless was the one method you can obviously clean it better, harder and sanitize it more easily. Plastic is still a little bit porous and stainless is not. For sanitary reasons, it’s certainly a preferred way of going about it.
Regarding going from cotton filter to stainless filter, there’s still something to be said on my mind about- I’m a big fan of filtration and coffee. Paper filters are great for drip coffee or pour over coffees. I’m not a big fan of metal coffee cones for doing pour overs. Environmentally, they’re obviously much better. For taste I want to really want to use a filtration to clean up the taste of the coffee.
That being said, I am absolutely in love with the stainless filter, the filtration on the current system, it works great. We get a better yield than we ever had before, which obviously is much better for your dollar line, and it taste great as well. Honestly I haven’t noticed a crazy noticeable difference and taste profile between the old cotton filtration and the stainless one.
Brendan: Okay. Not to put you on the spot but just out of curiosity, why do you think your yield has gone up? That’s something I’ve heard from quite a few people.
David: I’m sure we were using cotton before. I assume it’s from the stainless- I forgot the micron count on the one that I have is, but I’m sure it lets a little more through or it lets a little more out than the cotton filter. I assume. Just to let you know, some people use the old plastic systems with a wool filter. We never used that at all, we always thought it was a silly thing that never really made sense to us.
Cary: Wool? I haven’t even heard of that.
David: We always let the cotton do all the filtration. But yes, the yield difference is unbelievable. That’s your advertisement right there. Boom.
Brendan: Hey, yes. Have to have you stay on a little later and–
David: Your voice is much better for radio than mine.
Brendan: I apply filters before we release these podcasts [laughs]
David: Right, perfect. So to speak.
Brendan: You just nailed everything we had outlined. You gave an overview in comparison. Obviously, stainless steel, you’ve had your system for what, probably over a year now?
David: Yes, right around a year. Yes.
Brendan: Or close. Cleaning it compared to the other system?
David: Great. There’s really no contest. You’re not supposed to use steel wool and other things on plastic because it will deteriorate the plastic. Obviously we used that and we dumped it in a huge sanitizing bath. The stainless is fantastic. There’s really no way in going back. And I’m not really sure why I didn’t go to a local brew store here in Sand Diego and buy one of these kettles myself.
But the system with the filter, it makes the process so much easier and faster as well. You guys have outdone yourselves in trying to really make the process of cold brewing so much easier and cleaner, at least for me, so certainly a great tool to use.
Brendan: We had a problem because we were trying to fill kegs with cold brew, just for personal consumption and we started solving it with stuff that we had in our shed.
David: Definitely works.
Brendan: Just out of curiosity. Since you were using mesh filters for a while before switching to stainless, was that something that you had to replace frequently?
David: We used the cotton filters, they’re big cotton bags. We had a bunch of them. We were washing them, bleaching them all the time. So the cotton eventually would deteriorate. We probably had eight or nine of them over the years, because we’d always have a few going.
Brendan: Got it. All right.
David: Definitely, it’s a world of improvement. It’s great. The only problem now is that, come next summer we’ll need to upgrade to a larger size, probably.
Cary: There you go.
Brendan: Well, you know where to find us. [laugh]
David: A problem for me not for you, no. [laughs] It’s great. Using the filter we just can keep going and cleaning it as we go, and just knock out the next batch right away. But really we’re yielding around 15 gallons of cold-brewed coffee at a time for each of our cycles. It’s pretty good out of a 15 gallon kettle with our ratio.
Brendan: Yes. So you’re adding water afterwards and you actually yield the a 15 once it’s diluted?
David: Yes. [inaudible 00:23:03] ready to serve that. I assume they’re not getting a full 15 out of a 15 gallon kettle.
Cary: No. They’ll get closer to 10 or 11, maybe 12. Depending on ratio.
David: It’s another reason to go concentrated, is that you should be able to make a little more. But all I can say really about cold brewing, because there’s not a lot of information out there, and people are a little more secretive sometimes about their brew ratios. We’ve been cold brewing for again almost 10 years.
And it’s fun to really experiment. It will cost some money and burning through some coffee. We can do smaller batch and then up scales. Pretty much the same way if you’re downsizing or upsizing your brew ratios. Just try different methods. Play with your grind. Play with your volume and see how different it tastes.
Brendan: Yes. There’s really so many variables that you could tweak. From time to temperature to grind. And even water, you could change the water that you’re using. A lot of fun that could be had there.
Brendan: Right on, David. Well, I think that pretty much covers everything that we had on the outline that we did. Before we let you go is there somewhere online or on social media that we can send people to find you?
David: Yes, absolutely. Our websites joesonthenose.com. Instagram is what we’re most busy on these days and social media and it’s @joesonthenose. If you’re down at San Diego come visit us every Saturday. You can find the big orange truck at the Little Italy Mercado Farmer’s Market. In other days we’re usually out catering for companies and other private events.
Brendan: That’s down near Ballast point in Little Italy, right?
David: It’s a few blocks away, yes.
Brendan: I think I walked through that farmer’s market last time I was down there.
David: Yes, absolutely.
Brendan: And I don’t recall seeing the big orange truck. [laughs]
David: You didn’t go west enough.
Brendan: Yes, I must not have gone far enough.
David: There you go. Next time.
Brendan: All right, David. Well, hey appreciate you joining us on the show. And looking forward, hopefully get you back on in the future.
David: All right sounds great. Good luck with all and look forward to upgrading the new kettle.
Cary: Thanks for coming out.
Brendan: All right. Thanks again to David for joining us today. And if you’re ever down in Little Italy in San Diego, go check out the Joes on the Nose truck. Give their cold brew coffee a try, and let us know what you think. And hey, as winter starts winding down and we get into spring, you might need to start thinking about brewing larger batches of cold brew.
If you’re sick of fighting with mesh bags and paper filters, and stained plastic buckets, check out the cold brew avenue stainless steel cold brew coffee system. With an entirely reusable stainless steel mesh filter. Those systems now come in sizes ranging from five to 50 gallons.
There’s one for everyone. And hey, maybe you don’t need a stainless steel cold brew coffee system. But maybe you’re listening to this podcast, and maybe you like it. If so, jump on over to iTunes for us and leave a quick review.
All right, that’s going to do it for today. Again, if you’re looking for show notes for this episode, you can find those by going to dripsanddraughts.com/43. Thanks again to Adam Carolla for providing the endless rant IPA. Thanks to David Wasserman from Joes On The Nose in San Diego for joining us today. Thanks to Cary. I’m Brendan Hanson and we’ll see you again next Friday on the Drips and Draughts podcast.