In today’s episode, we once again chat with Denet Lewis from Beans N Barbells and we get schooled on coffee and the coffee plant a bit. We discuss the optimal location for growing coffee, the best climates and what really makes a coffee plant “tick”.
Highlights & Takeaways
Episode 55 Transcript
Brendan Hanson: You’re listening to the Drips and Draughts podcast. As always, I’m Brendan Hanson, and I’ll be your host. Today, we’ve got part two of an episode that we recorded long, long ago. This is part two of episode 37, when we had Denet Lewis on, and we were talking about coffee and the history of coffee. Today, we’re talking about a little bit more of the coffee plant itself: where it grows, where it likes to grow, elevations, and some of its predators.
We also talk a bit about cold brew, cold brew methods, and achieving consistency in cold brew. All the things that you love to hear. We were, actually, hoping to record a live show this week up from the SCA Show up in Seattle, but things got a little bit away from us. We got a little bit busy. We were hoping to fly up, actually, today. Today’s Thursday. We were hoping to fly up today, make the rounds, line up a couple of interviews, maybe get a couple of live interviews and post a show, basically, as soon as we were done recording it.
But that didn’t quite work out. We got a new office, a new warehouse, and turns out we’re moving in this, actually, starting tomorrow on Friday. We are going to be busy, tied up, and sweaty. Thankfully, we had a few episodes in the bank, and this interview with Denet Lewis from Beans N Barbells being one of them. If you want to hear the first part of our interview with Denet, you can find that by going to dripanddraughts.com/37.
If you’re looking for links and show notes from this episode, you can find those by going to dripsanddraughts.com/55. Let’s get into today’s interview with Denet Lewis from Beans N Barbells.
If you’re looking to learn more about cold brew or draft coffee, make sure you check out Keg Outlet’s Ultimate Guide to Cold Brew Coffee and Serving Coffee on Draft. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Here’s Daniel Browning from the Browning Beverage Company in Marfa, Texas.
And so, I got on the internet and started looking around, and I found Keg Outlet’s Ultimate Guide to Cold Brew Coffee and read it a couple more times than I’ve read anything in my life. That was pretty much all the research I needed.
If you’re looking to start your journey with cold brew or draft coffee, check out The Ultimate Guide to Cold Brew Coffee and Serving Coffee on Draft. A free 34 page eBook offered at kegoutlet.com. You can get there through the Drips and Draughts website by going to: dripsanddraughts.com/ultimateguide.
Brendan: All right. We’re back with Denet Lewis from Beans N Barbells. We’re moving on to part two of our discussion. This is a follow-up to episode 37, which you can find at dripsanddraughts.com/37. Denet, welcome back.
Denet: Well, thank you. Welcome.
Brendan: This time, we’re going to be talking about growing coffee as well as coffee styles and ways to make and serve coffee. But before we get into that, we’re all enjoying some beers. I know, when we were going back and forth on episode times, you’d presented two times to me. You said, “We could do three o’clock if we want to drink coffee, and we could do four o’clock if we want to drink beer.” I said, “Let’s do 3:30. We can have both.” I come to find out Cary and I didn’t have any coffee at our office, so we’ve just been having beer the whole time. But yes, what do you got there? What are you drinking?
Denet: I, actually, have a mix of both. It’s a lager, best friends, Coffee Vanilla Lager. And it’s a handcrafted beer from Davis, California.
Brendan: Nice. Sounds good.
Cary: Sounds really good.
Denet: Coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. A match in Brewer Heaven.
Cary: You really don’t hear about a coffee and vanilla used in lager’s too often. I feel like it’s mostly like stouts or ales. That’s pretty cool. I’d love to try that one some time.
Denet: I confess, as I’ve gotten into doing a nitro on my cold brew, I have gotten more into stouts and nitro beer.
Brendan: Yes. Hard not to.
Cary: Yes, it’s pretty natural.
Denet: I had the most delicious — some Melk Nitro Stout. I think it was from down in San Diego. I had that last weekend, and boy, that was really delicious. It’s like, I hope I can get my coffee to taste like that sometime.
Brendan: Well, Cary and I are enjoying a tart cherry sour from our local surf brewery here in Ventura county.
Cary: This is our first sour we’ve ever had on the show.
Brendan: I think so.
Denet: How is it?
Brendan: It’s good.
Cary: It is good. It’s light. The color is super interesting. It’s like a golden, but it’s got a little hint of red in there. Yes. It’s really an interesting colored beer sour. But yes, I don’t think we’ve ever had a sour on the show. That’s a new-
Brendan: We’ll have to get into that.
Cary: – a new, but a growing popularity in beers nowadays.
Brendan: Yes, they’ve been getting more and more popular.
Denet: Yes, that sounds good.
Brendan: Yes. We were talking about coffee cherries in our previous episode with you. So, here we go. Cherry sour.
Denet: I bet someone out there could do a Coffee Cascara Beer. That would be good. That would be very interesting, putting some coffee skinned — the coffee fruit into a beer. If anyone wants to do that, look me up, and I can see if I can set you up with some cascara to do a little trial batch or something, and you can pay me back with some other beer.
Brendan: Yes, maybe we’ll try that.
Denet: That could be very interesting.
Cary: We were, actually, talking about doing a home brew episode where we, actually, record an episode while we brewed a batch of beer. We usually brew about 30 gallons each time we brew. We thought that’d be fun, but that would be really cool to tie in something like that just to a little coffee.
Denet: Well yes, a little coffee fruit and beer. I don’t think anyone’s doing that. I just thought of that now.
Cary: Here we go.
Brendan: All right. We’re, getting into this episode a little bit, talk about growing coffee. There’s only certain areas of the world where coffee can be grown, correct?
Denet: Yes. Coffee is a picky plant. It likes a certain climate. The most noticeable, it likes cool nights. If you ever notice on certain labels where single origin coffees are, they’ll often mention the elevation, what high elevations. It’s thought of as higher elevations produce better coffee. What’s really going on is coffee, it likes to sleep with a cool night, or it likes a cold night. Cool nights are good for coffee. However, coffee cannot stand the frost. It doesn’t like it too cold. It has to be just right.
Brendan: All right. I think I’ve heard from somebody that coffee only grows from like 3,000-7,000 feet or something like that? I don’t know if there’s hard lines or hard limits on it’s–
Denet: Well, it depends. For example, in Hawaii, it can grow down to below 1000 feet in certain — I’ve seen it growing in certain places down quite a ways below. It really depends on how far away from the equator and how cool the nights are. As you get closer to the equator, you have to go up further on the mountain.
Cary: Is there a specific elevation that’s like the “Goldmine?” Did you guys already touch on this? Sorry.
Brendan: No, not yet.
Denet: Again, it likes– as you get closer to the equator, you need to — or in a hotter climate, you have to go up higher on the mountain to grow coffee. It really depends on the spot and the particular climate. In Hawaii, in Kona where I grew up, it’s really one of the lower elevations that coffee grows in there. As far as the globe goes, it can produce pretty good Kona coffee at lower elevations than most of the other elevations of where coffee’s grown in the world.
Brendan: Yes, we had a guest on from — they produce a Kona coffee. They’re called Texakona Coffee. They’ve imported into Texas, roasted there. But yes, I learned that Hawaii is the only state in the US that grows and produces coffee.
Denet: I think there was a guy that actually grew coffee in California, but I don’t know if it was at the commercial level. It was more of a prototype. As far as commercially growing, that is correct. Hawaii is the only state. Puerto Rico, I think, does grow some coffee as well. But that’s an out-of-state-
Brendan: They don’t count. So, is it within like a certain range of the equator that coffee can grow? You can pretty much grow anything anywhere if you really wanted to and you really had the resources and wanted to try it. But there’s, obviously, an optimal spot for coffee.
Denet: Yes, the optimal spot is based on the temperature. Coffee, again, it likes cool nights, so most of the country. It’s grown in about seventy countries around the world. Most of them are developing or undeveloped nations that are in tropical areas. Obviously, you have Central America, South America, Africa, Hawaii. There is some coffee grown in Australia but not very much.
Brendan: Okay, talking about going back, I know we, in the previous episode we did with you, we talked about coffee trees quite a bit. Going back to the coffee tree, once those are established or say a coffee tree is planted, how long does it take for it to start producing fruit? Once it does start producing fruit, how many years can you get out of it? Is it something that has to be replaced every decade? How long do those last?
Denet: When you plant a tree, you’re not really going to get much of a crop for the first few years. Around year three or four, you’ll probably have a few berries to pick but you’re not going to be getting highly productive trees. After year six or seven, you’re going to really be hitting some sweet spots in a peak. Where you can get nice yields and really good coffee fruit coming off in the sixth and seventh year area. The trees, in some cases, if you take good care of them they can go up to 80 years. My dad said he saw some that were pushing a hundred. It can have a long life.
Brendan: Wow, jeez. So it’s, I suppose, it’s how you treat your plants and what they’ll give back to you, yes?
Denet: Right. In certain areas. It depends on the soil, how well you’re taking care of it, how you’re pruning it and what the individual conditions are for that tree.
Brendan: All right, is there an optimal age window for a coffee plant? You mentioned year six and seven they could start producing some really good fruit. Is that going to– will that get better eventually, or once it starts producing good fruit is it just going to continue producing good fruit if you take care of the plant?
Denet: It will continue producing good fruit if you take care of the plant. My dad was kind of– sounds like he was hinting that year six and seven could be a peak where you really pull off your prime, but then the tree will keep producing a pretty good fruit for many years to come. I do know a few farms that were able to pull in some cupping awards right in that six to seven year window. They were able to really clean up on the cupping contest.
Cary: Yes, we had a client actually recently that purchased some stuff from us. He’s a new grower in Hawaii; I cant remember what island now, but he had started a farm, I think he was saying it was about six or so years ago now, and this was his first year he was getting a really good crop he was proud of, entered into a contest and he won a bunch of awards.
Cary: Yes, I think it was one of the best coffees in Hawaii or something. I can’t remember the competition or whatever but–
Denet: Yes, there’s a– Hawaii has a Kona which is a particular region and then the non Konas have a different competition that they compete in.
Cary: All right.
Brendan: In the previous episode, one of the things we talked about was weeds and some of the things that can be a detriment to a coffee farmer. Obviously, in addition to weeds, you’ve got predators and insects. You had mentioned in one of your emails, the borer beetle. What exactly is that? Is that native to Kona? Is that only in Kona?
Denet: So coffee– I’m guessing the coffee plant figured out somewhere in the long complex history, it figured out that if they put caffeine in the beans, that that would protect them as a natural insecticide. I’m guessing the coffee plant, it produces caffeine in the plant and it concentrates it in the seed. I think it does that as a natural protectant. Certain things, including humans, have developed a tolerance to caffeine. Some of us have addictions to it–
Denet: – there’s one insect, the coffee borer or coffee borer beetle which has also developed a resistance to caffeine. It can go inside and eat the seed. It’s been devastating to coffee. I don’t know where the coffee borer started, it might have been in Africa. I know people were trying to go find location to where it wasn’t and as of around– I think it was around 2010, it worked its way to Kona. They were trying hard to prevent that from happening but eventually it did work its way to Kona. It’s really been damaging to the crops.
What it does is it goes inside and it– It didn’t eat or bore into the bean, so that will prevent you from getting a good bean once you get a borer in there eating it.
Brendan: So it’s going into the fruit.
Denet: It’s going right in through the fruit to the seed. It’s been really devastating to the crops. I talked to one of my– he’s my former neighbor and he has a farm going there and he said that they found a few organic methods to fight it. They’ve been building these traps, the seed with some different essence. They try to attract the bug into these different traps to collect them. He also said that they put some garlic around. They were able to have some beneficial effects by putting a different garlic around to fight it but it certainly– it’s been a real challenge for the farmers.
Brendan: You mentioned that they might have come from Africa, so that’s a worldwide thing.
Denet: Yes, the coffee borer is a worldwide problem. It’s not just in Kona. One of the things you can do is if you put your coffee in the water. The ones that have been hit with the borer will tend to float because they’re lighter after the borer eats its way through there. But it also means at your yield goes really out the door.
Brendan: Is the borer, is it relatively small bug? I’m assuming if it’s able to get in and eat through a seed.
Denet: Yes, it’s a small bug.
Brendan: Okay, I’ve probably hit my limit on growing coffee right now. I’ve maxed out. [laugh]
Denet: I’ll end with a little cautious note. A lot of baristas and people in the coffee industry they have this, “wow, aha” moment when they first see a coffee tree, “When they go to source or when they go to origin.” They think it’s this amazing “aha” moment when they see a plant. A lot of people get it in their minds, “I want to go get a coffee farm. I’m going to get a coffee farm, make some money and live a good life. I’ll produce better coffee than anyone else.” Well, the cautious note, it is really hard work. Nature has so many things up its sleeve that it throws at you.
Starting a coffee farm is just tremendous amounts of work. Also, anyone that enjoys coffee know that the farmers that produce your coffee have put incredible amounts of effort in work into getting their coffee farms to produce that high quality coffee. I don’t think any baristas or– it’s really hard for us to imagine just how much work really goes into the farming of coffee.
Brendan: Yes, I planted a tomato plant out back and I had a hard time keeping that thing alive.
Cary: That’s exactly what I was thinking when we were talking about organic versus non-organic, because I bought a bag of the Miracle-Gro at my local Home Depot. I planted a tomato plant and then I ran out of that and then I went down to my local hardware store, got some organic whatever potting soil and planted another one in that. Oh my gosh, the difference in these two, the Miracle-Gro plant was like ten times the size producing those–
Cary: I was like, “What?”
Cary: But yes, tomato plants. California people thinking about–
Denet: I do encourage everyone to go out and at least get a tomato plant or some plant and learn to grow it. It teaches you patience and there’s lots of good lessons. You’ll certainly appreciate your food chain more. But I really caution anyone in the coffee industry from thinking they’re going to have a nice easy life by owning a coffee farm.
Brendan: Dream killer. All right, so moving on from coffee trees and growing coffee, let’s talk about some of the different coffee styles: how to make it and different ways that cold brew, in particular, can be served. You brought up the Japanese Kyoto method, the slow drip method, which we haven’t tried doing or making. I know we’ve a couple of clients who have bought our cold brew systems and they’ve basically set them up as a tier. Where they’re brewing hot up top and then they’re pouring, letting that filter out over ice and then collecting it into kegs I think. But I’ve never tried it.
What are your thoughts on it? Tell us a little bit about it.
Denet: Well let’s distinguish. There’s a couple of different methods for brewing coffee, cold brew there is. The most common in which your equipment does, is called the immersion method. Where you’re taking your grinds and you’re emerging it in water and you’re soaking it for– I’ve heard of 12 to 24 hours is the most common. I’ve seen some– I do know one place that went up to 48 hours. But for the most part, 12 to 24 hours is the norm. I think 16 to 24 hours should probably be the more sweet spot, from what I’ve heard.
The other method you referred to, I want to break it down. There’s actually two things: one, you referred to as the Japanese iced coffee and that’s not a cold brew. That’s where you’re brewing hot and flash cooling it by, basically you brew hot coffee with more grinds, less water and then you immediately chill it on ice. That gives you a unique flavor. You’re basically pulling flavors that you get with a hot coffee and then you’re trying to chill it on ice to preserve those flavors.
Cary: Is that like an espresso then? You’re just doing like a shot and then pouring it over ice?
Denet: You’re doing a pour over, so it’s not an espresso. It’s a regular pour over, but you’re using more grinds and less water. So that you’re going– the rest of the water comes from ice. That gives you– you get more acidity in the flavor. The other method, that would be a Japanese iced coffee. The other method is a Kyoto style, or some times referred to as the slow drip method. You’ve probably seen these absolutely gorgeous towers. They look like lab equipment and they have a dripper.
Denet: And you’re essentially dripping your water one drip at a time on to a pile of grinds. This is a cold brew method because you’re using cold water, and sometimes iced water, and you’re dripping it through your grinds and so it’s soaking it. Then you collect the coffee at the bottom. So, you have a filter that you go through right after your coffee grinds. So, you’re getting your filtered coffee right at the bottom of your grinds. I’ve compared the two side by side with the immersion method and you do get a different tasting drink. Even more noticeable than the flavor, is the texture is different.
Cary: Interesting. Are you comparing that on the same– have you been able to successfully do an immersion batch and a slow drip batch on the same, I guess, like extraction level or measure at the same TDS?
Denet: Yes, I actually did the same amount of water, same amount of grinds, same coffees. I did on one drip and I’ve done on the other immersion. I compared the TDS afterwards. I have a bricks TDS meter that I’m checking and I got a– you can see, I did a 24 hour brew and I got a– the flavor profile to me was very similar.
To someone else with a more skilled palate, they might be able to detect more differences. I thought the immersion really had opened up the aromas and the smell quite– it had a really nice aroma to it. But the Kyoto style, certainly had a different texture and it had a higher TDS. I don’t know, maybe I need to refine and go with a little bit finer grind type. Maybe I need to refine the grind size a little bit on the immersion and retry the test.
Cary: That’s an interesting kind of comparison that we haven’t been able to try.
Denet: You can, if someone has a AeroPress. You can actually get a regular plastic water bottle. You take a needle and you stab it through your water bottle. Cut off the bottom of your water bottle, stab a needle through the plastic cap. Then you let your water just drip. You can take an AeroPress and just have it drip on the grinds for a really simple system. You can do small batches of Kyoto brewing. You can get those started for what? $30 or whatever AeroPress’s, on you.
Brendan: Yes, that’d be cool to try.
Denet: I like the texture and I like the concept of the Kyoto slow drip. I think, originally, the Dutch brought it to Japan years ago, and that’s why it’s called the Kyoto method. The challenge with the Kyoto method is–
Brendan: Not breaking that equipment.
Denet: Well, getting large quantities of coffee done that way.
Brendan: Yes, the large quantity, exactly.
Denet: I suspect, in the future, we’ll see more people doing Kyoto and some people will figure out how to do larger batches. But as of now, it’s pretty challenging to do large batches with it. Also, you’ve got more variables than you do with immersion. You’ve got temperature dry and size, ratios, but you also have a drip speed. There’s a second part, do you start with one drip speed and then change it throughout the brew or do you keep it consistent? It’s got another layer of tuning that you can do.
Brendan: What’s the time involved on that? You mentioned drip speed, so obviously, the time could vary probably pretty greatly. But what kind of time are you investing when you’re doing that slow drip method?
Denet: I’ve played around with it quite a bit and I like roughly somewhere between one drip a second to maybe two drips per– I’m sorry, one drip every– yes, around one drip a second. Sometimes a little quicker, sometimes a little slower. I’ve played with roughly– the brew speed’s quicker than immersion for sure. You’re looking at a eight– possibly as low as six hours. I think you’re not going to get a full extraction if you’re doing four or five hours. You won’t get into the sweet zone. If you’re going above 12 hours, you’re probably getting a little on the over extraction side. I target hitting eight hours.
Brendan: Okay. Wow.
Denet: But again, you’re– unless you’re really innovative and can design an entire complex system, you’re not going to be able to do 20 gallons or 50 gallons with this kind of system.
Cary: Big size stuff, yes.
Denet: Exactly. You could certainly do some small scale.
Brendan: Yes, we might have to get one of those small drippers in here just as an art piece for the wall or something. Especially when we run out of draft coffee.
Denet: There’s some really gorgeous systems that have some spirals put into these glass systems that are really nice pieces.
Brendan: Yes, they get elaborate. I think we’d break it almost immediately though.
Cary: We probably would. We’re used to all this stainless steel equipment.
Brendan: We’re too rough with our stuff.
Denet: Do you guys check your TDS?
Brendan: We have a couple of times, but most of the time we’re just testing the equipment to make sure it stands up to some punishment and it can be cleaned and all that stuff.
Cary: Different batch sizes, ratios, things like that.
Brendan: Yes, and a lot– we’re not distributing our stuff. So, most of the time we literally just brew it, put it in a keg and drink it here at the office.
Cary: If it’s too strong we add a little cream.
Denet: Well, one thing you can check is the– you can try to get a consistent TDS. There’s the VST meters, the refactor meters, you can get to try to measure the strength of your coffee. Anyone that wants to get a more consistent product should probably be pretty well versed with that.
Brendan: Absolutely. Yes, we actually reached out to VST. We tried to get them on the podcast. I got to follow up with them and see if we can get them on.
Denet: Yes, that would be an interesting one.
Brendan: Yes, they do a nice little one. It’s pricey, but everywhere I read in coffee forums and stuff it’s the go to TDS meter for coffee people.
Denet: Have you guys found the Holy Grail to ratios of water the grinds?
Cary: Everyone asks and emails about that and, man, that just varies. I feel like–
Brendan: Yes, there’s so many variables.
Cary: – between roasts, the roasts versus the grind, steep times and–
Brendan: You’re got to start talking about your water and your water content.
Denet: Water is a huge topic I haven’t heard mentioned too much before on the Cold Brew side. Obviously, water is the main ingredient.
Brendan: Yes, it needs to be considered.
Denet: There are water’s industry standards to what’s the ideal mineral content. I was using reverse osmosis water and I realized my mineral content is really low. I’ve been playing around to up the mineral content a little bit. I confess, I screwed up a couple of times too. I’ll give you some learning lessons that I had.
Brendan: Please do.
Denet: One screw up, I don’t know how this worked or what I did or how this happened. I went to the beer shop, my local beer shop, and I bought some beer brewing minerals. I put in some in my-
Denet: It wasn’t Gypsum, it was Calcium, magnesium and Potassium mix. There’s different forms of Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium too. I used some that are for beer brewing. Put them in my coffee, brewed up this batch. I took a sample of it, it was beautiful. Put it on Nitrogen. The next day, I was at an event and I sold some and it was smooth. I’m like, “Wow, I add the minerals and it comes out smooth. It’s just great.” I thought it was beautiful. I put some in bottles too.
Unfortunately, I think I sold one growler full of it. A couple of days later, I tried it and it just went completely sour and was absolutely horrible a few days later. I don’t know what went wrong. I think it was the minerals were off. It threw me off because right after, I had really nice Nitro cold brew.
Brendan: Yes, very interesting. That’s something we haven’t played with at the time. We typically just buy some purified water and do it that way.
Denet: But you don’t want to use DI water or distilled water because you do want some minerals in there to pull the best extraction.
Brendan: Right. They’s going to react with the coffee differently versus distilled water it’s–
Brendan: – you’re not going to get all the flavor that you should. That’s something that, I think, is going to grow a lot more in popularity as Cold Brew gets bigger.
Denet: I’d be very cautious with using beer brewing minerals, though. I don’t think they’re right for coffee [laughs]. If they are, you need to experiment them a lot to figure it out.
Cary: Right. Unless you figure that out correctly.
Brendan: Which ones to add.
Cary: That’s how breweries operate those, basically. A lot of them reverse osmosis, get all of the minerals out, and they add the exact amount of the minerals that they know are going to produce the best beer.
Brendan: Right, so we’re going to help–
Cary: Until the coffee industry figures out what those are.
Denet: Well, the coffee industry has figured it out for a hot brew, but I don’t know if that transfers over to cold brew or not. And then, o,f course, the challenge is how to get it. Just because you know, it doesn’t mean you can get it. Another issue I had, I did use a carbonation stone. When I nitrogen, I’ve been slowly cranking up the pressure in my keg using the Nitrogen stone. I’ve had a couple issues with that a few times. One time I had the stone with a threaded attachment to the bottom of my Keg. I basically had a beverage line going down on my gas line and then I had a threaded connection to use.
Brendan: Sure. [inaudible 00:34:49]?
Denet: Yes. Somehow when I pressurized the Nitrogen, I managed to unthread my stone. It was just blowing out [laughs] at the bottom of my Keg.
Brendan: – blows at the bottom.
Cary: – tighten enough [laughs].
Denet: I found out when you put it up at 40 PSI, unless you tighten it down a little bit, you can certainly undo your threading.
Cary: Yes. Nitrogen gas is high pressured gas. A lot of people don’t understand it can be very dangerous and should not be taken lightly when handling. Go through all the proper steps when setting up your regulators, your pressure, everything like that.
Denet: Slowly increase the pressure on your stone if you’re using one.
Cary: Exactly. Don’t just start at 40.
Denet: Another question I want to ask you; what about, how do you do Nitrogen stones when you’re using a professional kegging system like Sanke kegs?
Cary: We don’t really sell too much of the commercial side of stuff yet. I think it’s becoming a bigger industry now that cold brew is getting bigger and they’re needing to put it into Sanke kegs. It’s not something that we have a solution for yet. I would say one–
Brendan: I think a lot of that is being nitrogenated prior to being put in the keg. Then it’s just highly pressurized and stored and transported and served at that point.
Cary: Sure, if you’re–
Denet: So, you’re putting it in a Corny Keg first and then transferring it over?
Cary: Yes, or a larger vessel that you’re able to get it up to pressure and actually get that coffee infused with Nitrogen prior to kegging. That’s how the beer industry works, too. With large fermenting tanks, they’re able to pressurize them, get them carbonated and then transfer directly from the fermentors into kegs. So you have ready to drink beer that’s carbonated and ready to go. You’re not carbonating it in the kegs.
Denet: Got it. What about filtering? I heard someone tell me that they thought they get a better Nitrogen infusion if you filter. I have not been filtering. I do filter at the initial brew and that’s it.
Brendan: It depends on how far you’re filtering.
Denet: 20 microns or something like that.
Brendan: Yes. I’ve talked to people who say that once you’re starting to filter that low you’re changing your taste and flavor of your cold brew as well as the body. They’re having to adjust the recipe on the front end to account for that extra filtration. You’ll definitely notice– I think you’ll definitely notice the Nitrogen more if you filter more just because you’re losing body in the coffee. You’re replacing that with Nitrogen. That’s something too. That’s just so many variables that you can start tweaking and playing with.
Denet: Are you guys doing like a 30 micron or do you do any post filter?
Brendan: We don’t do any post filtration. Our systems are 35 micron. We typically go straight into the keg.
Cary: Sometimes we’ll collect a bit of the first pourings, a gallon or two, and recirculate them over the top. As the grounds settle on our filter, it initiates a finer filter which won’t let a lot of those fine sediments pass through. We typically extract a really fine product–
Brendan: Pretty clean product, yes. Based on the people we work with, I’d say it’s 50/50 here. Some go post filter and then some go straight to keg or straight into bottle. It’s still coin flip as far as whether people want to filter more or not.
Denet: I have run some tests and I’ve done the counter pressure bottle filling. I’ve gotten a pretty good shelf life out of doing that. Going from the keg with Nitrogen purging the Oxygen out and using a counter pressure bottle filler. I don’t know if you guys have experimented with that or not.
Brendan: No. We need to experiment more.
Cary: Not with cold brew. We’ve done with beer.
Denet: The counter pressure bottle filler is the same as beer, but you blow the– I hook it up with nitrogen, blow the air out and then fill from the bottom up under a little bit of Nitrogen pressure and then cap it at the top. If you keep it refrigerated, I think you can get a few months life out of that. But I’m not 100% certain.
Brendan: Yes. I’ve got a bottle on the shelf over there. Those bottles on May 21st and still looking good. Sitting in room temperature. We’re going to try it on the one year anniversary.
Cary: You’re going to try it.
Denet: Well, that is one thing I’ve learned from Carlos over at Cosmo cafe, giving the shout out to him. He’s taught me quite a bit about cold brew and he was saying cold brew is not yet fully understood as like wine. Sometimes, as you store it longer, you might have to re-oxidate it like you do with wine to bring the flavors fully backseat.
Maybe if you get one that’s a little sour, try putting aironating it or putting it through an oxygenator or letting it sit in open air, like you would have if you open an older wine.
Brendan: Got to decant it, yes?
Denet: Yes, exactly. And see if you get a little more of the flavors coming back after that.
Cary: What bottles would be like a third fall so [laughs] it’s not a lot of air in it this whole time.
Brendan: That’s interesting though.
Denet: Well, you can thank Carlos at the Cosmo Cafe for that.
Brendan: Carlos at Cosmo.
Cary: All right. Thanks, Carlos.
Brendan: All right, Denet. We’re back up to nearly 40 minutes again. If you don’t mind, can I hit you with a couple of quickfire questions before we end this episode?
Brendan: Something we’re just starting up here. What do you think about the current state of cold brew? Your answers can be anywhere from just one word to– more on the short side.
Denet: One word would be awesome. Couple more of words, I think craft beer in the 2000s or fine wine in the late 90s or just at the early stage, as something big.
Brendan: On the way up?
Brendan: All right. I don’t know if this one pertains– We talked to a lot of small coffee shops and stuff, but if this doesn’t pertain to you, just tell me. Let’s just skip it. But what’s one thing you know now that you wish you could go back and tell yourself when you were just getting started with coffee?
Denet: Whoa. I have to think about that one. I think that would go to the business, learning how to market and cater to the customer needs. That’s one thing in coffee we often get tied up, being really hardcore coffee geeks, and what’s the best coffee we can produce. We often need to go back and refocus to, what do customers want? In some cases, they want smooth tasting sweet beverage and not necessarily the most exotic flavors you can get in a cup of coffee.
Brendan: Sure. All right. What’s your favorite way to drink coffee?
Denet: I love my cold brew on nitro. I’ll stick with that although I do– If I have a really flavorful coffee, I like a pour over in the morning or AeroPress. I still like a cappuccino or an espresso when the milk is steamed just right.
Brendan: So you like all coffee?
Denet: I do.
Brendan: Just give me coffee. All right, where do–
Cary: One-word answer, you could’ve just said addict.
Brendan: Where do you see cold brew going in the next year?
Denet: Well, we just had Starbucks– Starbucks CEO resigned to focus more on the step-down and he’s focusing on cold brew. I think everyone like myself, and like you guys in the cold brew industry, we should be cheering because cold brew is no longer a trend; it’s a mainstream drink. It’s no longer– it’s a new category, like espresso or like a drip coffee cold or pour over. It’s a new category drinks and it’s here to stay. I think one year from now, we’re going to see more people popping up with different versions of it and the trend’s only on the increase.
Brendan: Yes. Last question. If there were no coffee, what would you be doing right now?
Denet: Oh, boy.
Cary: Silence. [laughs]
Denet: Well, probably going between beer and tea.
Brendan: Nothing wrong with that. All right, Denet. That was fun. I learned a lot talking with you on both episodes. Appreciate you joining us today.
Cary: History lessons.
Denet: Well, thank you. I learned some stuff from you guys too. Really, I’ve enjoyed the podcast. I absolutely– I put a shout out for you. I totally owe you as I’m sure a few other listeners too, a good review on iTunes. I put the word out for you. Guys, if you haven’t yet done a review go ahead and give them a review. Let’s get those reviews out there. Quit sitting around like I have been doing and go ahead write them a nice review on iTunes.
Brendan: Awesome, man. Well, thanks again. It’s been fun. We’ll have to have you on the show again in the future.
Denet: I look forward to it.
Brendan: All right, Denet. Nice talking. Thanks again.
Denet: Thanks again. All right.
Advertisement: Are you looking to get started with serving your favorite craft ever done draft? Kegoutlet.com has you covered for all of your draft beverage needs. From complete kegerators to individual parts for upgrades and replacements. Keg Outlet will help keep you pouring your craft beverage on draft. To learn more, visit kegoutlet.com.
Brendan: All right. As always, big thanks to Denet Lewis for joining us today. If you want to learn more about Denet or his company, Beans and Barbells, you can do that by going to beansandbarbells.com. One cool thing to mention is, I just got an update from Denet and he let me know that they just got their processed food registrations. They’re looking to get their products out there both wholesale, retail. You’ll probably be able to start finding those on the shelves around the San Jose area soon. He also mentioned that they’re already up and running in the San Jose Farmers’ Market. They expect to be starting three more this summer. If you’re in that area, go check them out.
Last but not the least, I thought this was fit in, or timely I should say. In this episode, we talked about potentially brewing a beer with cascara. Or cascara? How do you say that? I’m going to say cascara. Let me know if I’m wrong. Anyways, I got an email from Daily Coffee News this morning. They had a quick little article about Stumptown and Slingshot, starting a– I guess it’s a collaborative brew which is made with cold brew and cascara tea. That product is called Long Distance Relationship. I didn’t really read the whole article but I’m assuming it’s because Stumptown is from the northwest and Slingshot, I’m guessing, is from the east coast.
If you’re in either of those areas, I’m sure you could get some of that. Make sure you check it out. Let us know what you think of it. While we’re on this topic, I think it bears to mention that a lot of times we draw similarities to what we see in the beer industry happening in the coffee industry or vise versa. But this, in particular, we’ve got Slingshot and Stumptown collaborating. That’s something that you see a lot in the beer industry. You see a lot of breweries teaming up and doing collaborative beers. I imagine that this is going to be something that we see more and more of as more of cold brewers set the market.
I got to imagine there’s going to be a lot more cold brewed teas out there. We’re probably going to see a lot more of these as more coffees and teas start to be kegged, bottled, canned, etc. Let us know what you think. Do you think collaborative coffees and teas are going to go big or do you think that’s just going to be something that fizzles out and nobody is really interested in? Let us know. Tag us on social media @dripsdraughts.
All right, that’s going to do it for today. For all of you people up at the SCA show, hope you’re having fun. Thanks again to Denet Lewis for joining us today. I’m Brendan Hanson, I’ll see you again next week on the Drips and Draughts podcast.
Mentioned in this Show
Surf Brewery Tart Cherry Sour