In the final installment of our Australian Cold Brew Series, we’re joined by Leigh Mellington from Beat Coffee out of Melbourne, Australia. Leigh brings a little something different to our series as he’s not just a cold brewer, he’s also a roast, so he is able to have complete control of his flavor profile from roasting to cold brewing.
Highlights & Takeaways
Episode 73 Transcript
Brendan Hanson: Hey there, Happy Friday and thanks for tuning into another episode of the Drips & Draughts Podcast. Today, we continue our Australian Cold Brew Series. We’re joined by Leigh Mellington from Beat Coffee out of Melbourne, Australia. Just in case you haven’t caught the other episodes in our Australian Cold Brew Series, I’ll give you a quick recap. Back in episode 61, we were joined by Filament Coffee. Go back and find that episode at dripsanddraughts.com/61.
In Episode 63, we were joined by Rushmore coffee. That episode can be found at dripsanddraughts.com/63. In Episode 65, we were joined by Bellerophon Cold Brew. That episode, dripsanddraughts.com/65. In Episode 67, we were joined by Mr. Bean cold brew. Again, that episode can be found at dripsanddraughts.com/67. Next, for part five of our Australian Cold Brew Series, we were joined by That Cold Stuff. That can be found at dripsanddraughts.com/69.
Part six of our Australian Cold Brew Series, we were joined by First Press Coffee. First Press is the company that makes cold drip coffee rather than the standard cold brew coffee that most of us are used to. That had a little tie-in to episode 72 where we introduced the Brew Bomb, the New Cold Brew machine that we started selling at our Keg Outlet. If you’re interested in cold drip coffee, check out episode 71 and 72.
Of course, that brings us to today’s episode. Episode 73 where we’re joined by Leigh Mellington from Beat Coffee. This is part seven of our Australian Cold Brew Series. As far as I know, this is the final installment of the Australian Cold Brew Series. If you know somebody else in Australia who’s cold brewing and might want to be on the show, tell him to hit us up. Find us on social media or email the show at [email protected]
If you want to check out all those Australian cold brew episodes that we’ve put together and you don’t think you’re going to remember all those links or episode numbers that I just spouted off, it’s easy, you can find those by going to dripsanddraughts.com/aucoldbrew. We’ve got a list of all of them. We’ve also got links to all those companies’ social media pages so you can keep up to date with what each one of them is doing. Go check them out. Give them a follow and tell them Drips and Draughts sent you.
All right. In today’s final installment of the Australian Cold Brew Series, we talk with Leigh from Beat Coffee and each one of our Australian cold brewers has contributed something unique to the show and Leigh is no different. He’s actually a roaster who started cold brewing. He still roasts his own coffee and he’s able to dial in his roast to exactly what he wants, which I think is pretty cool. It obviously gives him a lot of flexibility in terms of what he’s producing.
All right, guys, with that, let’s go talk to Leigh but before we do that, just a quick reminder. Go leave us a rating on iTunes. It’s been over a month since we’ve got one and I know some of you listening out there haven’t reviewed the show yet. Take a minute, review the show. We appreciate it. All right. Let’s get into today’s episode with Leigh Mellington from Beat Coffee out of Melbourne, Australia.
Voice-over: 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 Brewed Coffee and Serving Coffee on Draft. Hey, don’t just take my word for it. Here’s Daniel Browning from the Browning Beverage Company in Marfa, Texas.
Daniel Browning: I got on the internet and I 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.
Voice-over: 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 e-book offered at kegoutlet.com. You can get there through the Drips & Draughts website by going to dripsanddraughts.com/ultimateguide.
Brendan: All right. You’re listening to Drips & Draughts Podcast. As always, I’m Brendan Hansen and today, we’ve got part seven of our Australian Cold Brew Series. I’m joined by Leigh Mellington from Beat Coffee. How are you doing, Leigh?
Leigh: Good, Brendan. How are you today?
Brendan: I’m great. Thanks for getting up, maybe not early but thanks for taking the time out of your morning to join me today.
Leigh: No problems at all. Not too early, I don’t think.
Brendan: Not too early, huh? Yes, not for a coffee guy.
Leigh: That’s right. I’m at least two coffee, two cups deep at this stage.
Brendan: Nice. So you’re good?
Leigh: Yes. I’m fine.
Brendan: Well, cool. If you won’t mind, give us a quick background on yourself and maybe how you got into coffee.
Leigh: Yes, no troubles. I’m an engineer by trade, pretty much came to Melbourne after university and began doing that. Always exposed to coffee. As a part of my job, I was working in beer, and wine, and spirits, and mostly packaging. Had an opportunity to go to California in 2007. Worked in Napa Valley for five or six years, which was awesome. While I was there, I sort of noticed a bit of a pattern where I saw people who really loved what they were doing. They are very passionate about their craft like wine makers and beer makers and all that.
Start to wonder why aren’t I doing that instead of — Engineering is great but I’ve been doing it for a while. Shifted to New York when I met my now-wife and watched a lot of Aussies and Kiwis opening up a lot of coffee shops in New York there. While I was doing a business management course, I just decided to follow my passions, had a moment of clarity. Our Beat Coffee’s mantra of the endless search that is find your passions, follow it, and then do the best you can. That’s sort of where I started moving into coffee. Eventually, shifted back to Melbourne in 2013 and Beat Coffee was born.
Brendan: Right on. Beat Coffee. I got to say, your logo, I love it. It’s a coffee bean with sound waves through the middle of it?
Leigh: Yes. When I was doing the business management course, one of the things was learning about putting a logo together and actually put out to it in a software called DesignCrowd and got like hundreds of different logos. This one came up and totally fit in exactly what I was trying to get out. I think it really represents our brand.
Brendan: Yes, definitely. Where’s the audio and that sound wave come into everything here?
Leigh: Like I said, the endless search, which is following your passions. Coffee’s always been a passion as well as music. While I was in New York, I was able to do a couple of DJ and music production courses. I’m not a DJ. I’ll just say that straight up but I love it.
Leigh: It’s about following your dreams to the best of your ability and striving for the perfect cup of coffee. The perfect music track or whatever inspires you. That’s what we’re about. That’s where it’s all coming from.
Brendan: Right on. All right. Tell us about Beat Coffee a little bit. You’re a roaster and you guys cold brew?
Leigh: Yes. When we came back to Australia, I bought a Hottop back in 2013, like a tiny little coffee roaster. Started roasting and eventually built up a client base. In early 2014, I just had a fortuitous meeting with a guy through my engineering past. He was opening a tap house in Fitzroy, in a suburb in Melbourne, a beer tap house. He just asked me straight out, “What can you do for me?” At the time, I just, “Well, I could probably put cold tap on keg.” That’s where we started doing cold brew.
Leigh: It was pretty awesome. They had their opening in November of 2014 and first keg ever. Didn’t tell them that but put the keg behind the bar and started giving out samples. [chuckles]
Brendan: Can I ask was that just flat cold brew or did you do a nitro coffee for them?
Leigh: Well, no, it was flat. It did have a little bit of effervescence if you know what I mean but that was entirely not designed.
It was quite literally the first keg. It tasted pretty good. I went a little bit overboard with the strength. It was definitely a concentrate but I was buzzing by the end of the night giving out samples.
Brendan: [chuckles] I bet.
Leigh: Yes. It was great.
Brendan: That’s cool. You’re a small roaster, you do cold brew, any business partners?
Leigh: Well, I don’t have a business partner but my wife supports me a lot and made sure that we’re keeping focus on our path. Also, have a couple of great friends. Shout out to Jess and Corey. They help out when things get hectic like if we’re doing any markets or anything out of the ordinary on big orders. Yes, pretty loyal crew.
Brendan: Nice. Good. Always good to have some help.
Leigh: Yes, definitely.
Brendan: You built up a small client base, you obviously sell beans. Roast–
everything, assuming you roast everything that you’re cold brewing with. I’ve got to imagine that gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of what you’re looking to get out of your cold brew.
Leigh: Yes. In the early days, we spent a lot of time going through all the different beans. Especially while we’re using the Hottop, we were able to be really flexible in small roasts and small batch samples for cold brew. For our packaged cold brew, we did settle on Ethiopian for our concentrate and Guatemalan for our cold brew just because of the taste profiles that we’re looking for.
Brendan: You do a couple of different types. You do a concentrate and I guess a ready-to-drink?
Brendan: Obviously, you keg for your buddy with the tap house. Do you guys bottle and sell bottles as well?
Leigh: Yes, we sure do. We sell our cold brew in a 200ml plastic bottle. The thinking behind that is so you can take it everywhere. You can take it camping and you can take it to events or at some stuff. It’s not an issue with glass. We think it’s pretty handy. Our concentrate’s in a 500ml bottle. We also do, not quite so often, but we also do an EcoGrowler, which is a 2-liter, wine cask type thing. That’s mainly for if a commercial order would come in that would like not quite a keg but a little bit more than a bottle.
Brendan: Got you. Well, it sounds like you got it covered in terms of sizes and options there.
Leigh: Well, we hope so.
Brendan: Not to stray too much from our outline that I’ve got here but you actually submitted a cocktail recipe. We’re putting together a cold brew cocktail e-book. Mind telling us a little bit about that cocktail you submitted?
Leigh: Yes, sure.
Brendan: It sounded good.
Leigh: Yes. We were lucky enough to be a part of an espresso martini festival last year. There was a couple of other cold brew guys. The Rushmore guys were also involved in that. They’re a great bunch of blokes and lady, sorry. Yes, so as a part of that, we put together two cocktails. We did the espresso martini for the event but we also wanted to do something that was a little bit different.
We did the Beat Butterscotch, which has the Butterscotch Schnapps, a little bit of Mr Black and some cream or milk with, of course, a little bit of Jersey Caramel or whatever you guys call it over there. Nice, tasty, and creamy, and just a little bit different from the espresso martini.
Brendan: Yes, looks good. When we get this e-book compiled, I think we’re going to try to make every single one of these drinks here and give them a little taste test.
Brendan: Hopefully, not back to back to back though.
Leigh: Well, it depends. Have you got any mocktails sent in yet or no?
Brendan: We’ve got a few. I think most of these are with alcohol though.
Leigh: Of course. [laughs]
Brendan: Yes. We’d end up having a fun night if we did it all in one day.
Leigh: Yes. It’s pretty versatile. I love making cocktails with that. We tried to come up with different ones all the time for our customers and people who follow us on our social media things.
Brendan: Yes, it’s fun. I think I’ve seen a lot of growth in the cold brew cocktail kind of, I don’t know if I’d say, market but a lot more people are starting to experiment and mix cold brew with different things.
Leigh: That’s for sure.
Brendan: Cool. Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about your cold brewing process a little bit. This is something that we always get questions on. People are always asking us, “How much coffee should I use? How much water should I use?” I always like to ask people on the show for their golden rule when it comes to cold brewing. If you wouldn’t mind sharing or discussing a little bit, what ratio do you guys use when you’re brewing?
Leigh: Yes. We have mixed it up a lot in the past. We have settled on one part coffee to 12 parts water for cold brew. For our concentrate, we are actually twice that so one part coffee to six parts water. That’s by mass so we weigh that in. We steep our cold brew for 14 hours and our concentrate for 24.
Leigh: Yes. We found different taste come through. If we try to do the same ratio for a longer steeping period,-
Leigh: My goodness, sorry about that.
Brendan: [chucles] No worries.
Leigh: I killed that. Yes, we found that it’s the best time period for the both of the different styles we’ve found in the past.
Brendan: Interesting. Yes, it’s funny talking to different people about steeping times. Some people swear by lower time periods, 10, 12 hours. Others are saying, “No, it’s got to be 24.” Interesting to see that you do both.
Leigh: Yes. Well, we do know that some other people or other brands do one brew and then blend to bring it down to a cold brew. The fact that we’ve chosen two different beans stops us from doing that unless we decide to change to the one bean. At this stage, we find that we can get the best out of the bean doing it two different ways.
Brendan: Got you. Are you guys just steeping at ambient temperatures or do you steep at refrigerated temperatures?
Leigh: We do it in the fridge. We actually brew in-keg under nitrogen pressure but not too much, just enough to keep oxygen out of the process.
Brendan: Nice. Do you find that gives you a better flavor profile, or a longer shelf life, or both?
Leigh: I think it does a bit of both. Taste is perception. I think it does but [laughs] talk to a different person, they may not notice the difference or they do those in the opposite way. Once you’ve got your recipe and you’re aiming for consistency, if you can keep the temperature, the time and all the conditions the same, then you’re getting at the same thing every time.
Brendan: Yes, I think that’s the one area that escapes a lot of people when it comes to cold brew.
Leigh: You mean the consistency?
Brendan: Yes, keeping it consistent especially if you’re going at an ambient temperature because sometimes, your room temperature might be, I’m talking Fahrenheit here, 68. Then the next time you brew, it could be 75 degrees. Those little changes I think can, especially when you expand it over 12 or 24 hours, can make a big difference in the final product.
Leigh: Obviously, we tried to get away with doing with ambient because that’s easier but we found that some sour notes would creep in. Like you said with the different temperatures, you just can’t control it.
Brendan: Right. Well, cool. Let’s move on to talking about the Australian cold brew market a little bit. What’s your thought of the current market in Australia for cold brew?
Leigh: Yes. I can only really talk about my perception from my little corner of the universe. I guess what we’re seeing is that a lot of cafes, or particularly in Melbourne, they run some format of cold brew. They do their own. They have their small batch in their fridge under the counter or whatever.
One thing that we’re also noticing is more and more people are knowing what a cold brew is but then that raises the question, what is cold brew? Is it cold brew, cold drip, batch on ice, flash chilled, iced coffee? All those different types, they all seem to fall under the name of cold brew. Just trying to educate people on the differences because there are different flavors coming out of the different types.
Brendan: Yes. I think each different method could almost be named totally separately. We’ve tried to define what is cold brew on the show multiple times. [chuckles] It seems like everybody you talk to has a slightly different opinion and thought on it. I don’t know. I think here in the next year or two, there might be a definition that comes out of some governing authority that says, “This is what cold brew is.”
Leigh: Yes. I think it’s also just simple for the cafe. It’s like, “We do our hot coffee. We do our cold coffee and it’s called cold brew.” Then they do it whichever suits them. I think it’s just been having the knowledge of when you go in and asking them what it actually is before you order it.
Brendan: Yes, sure. Obviously, cold brew’s grown a bit in Australia over the past few years. We’re seeing a lot more players pop up in your part of the world. How or why do you think that’s happening so much?
Leigh: Some of the companies that you’re seeing, a lot of the cold brew companies that are popping up may not have followed the historical path of being a brewster in a cafe for many years and then working a way through. It seems to be an entry point for entering into the coffee world, which is great because that’s what we’ve done. We’ve also had the roasting on the side as well. If you wanted to work in the coffee world,
it’s an easier path without — You don’t have to buy a massive cafe and expensive coffee brewing equipment —
Brendan: Espresso machine and all that stuff [laughs]
Leigh: Yes, that’s tended towards that for the company starting up but also, particularly, I’m trying not to sound like a coffee snob but particularly in Melbourne, everyone’s always looking for an innovation or a point of difference in the coffee world, especially coffee quality and just different styles of drinks. You’ve seen there’s recently been coffee in an ice cream cone and all that sort of stuff. It’s just everyone wants to be a little bit different so I think cold brew is another way of doing that, particularly nitro.
Brendan: Absolutely. I’m noticing a lot of the Australian companies that we’ve talked to bottle and sell bottles, are you seeing a lot or any growth in terms of the kegging and the draft side of coffee whether it be flat or nitro?
Leigh: Yes, I’m seeing the bigger coffee companies in Melbourne, they’re more and more often having taps on their counters for draft and flat We’re also noticing that they’re outsourcing that process to keg for them. Obviously, the bigger guys have got multiple cafes so I guess they keep control that by having someone to do that centrally, whereas the smaller guys like us, we like to be slightly proud about the fact that we take it from the green bean right through to the customer. So, hope that we have that quality control all the way through.
Brendan: Yes, absolutely. Speaking of that again, I’ve got to imagine that, again, roasting your own coffee, being able to control that, being through the process, and then say, “Okay, these are the characteristics I’m looking for that I want to put into my cold brew.” That gives you a level of control that I imagine some people don’t have like somebody who’s just a cold brew shop. They’re going and getting beans from somewhere else.
Obviously, they could work with a roaster but if they don’t have that relationship, they’re just getting beans and their hands are tied. As a roaster, do you get to or do you ever take a bean and roast it to different levels and do sample batches of cold brew to see-
Brendan: – where the point is?
Leigh: Yes, we definitely do that and pretty much whenever we get a different bean, even for our hot coffee range, we’ll just, selling for beans, we [coughs] Excuse me. We like to play with it and try cold brewing concentrate. Once again, going back to our mantra of the endless search, it’s like we’re always looking for the next great cup of coffee. Even when we found it, you always want to find another one. That’s the beauty and addiction of coffee right?
Brendan: Yes, absolutely.
Leigh: Sorry. Also, I think with roasting our own beans in especially coffee as well, a lot of people like to be able to follow the traceability of the bean. We’re not going to the farms to buy the green beans ourselves, we hope to in the future one day but the fact that we can say where we got our beans from for your cold brew, then that’s a good thing as well.
Brendan: Yes, absolutely. I think customers are becoming a lot more knowledgeable and more interested in that story behind what’s going into their cup. As a roaster, did you guys face any real hurdles as you started getting into cold brew or was it seamless, just, “Boom, here we go?”
Leigh: I think our hurdle at the time was there was very little other people doing it at the time, particularly when we started draft in 2014. A couple of the big guys were doing it and starting it around the same time but it was all brand new. For us, if Drips & Draughts had been around at the time to tell us how to [laughs] how to improve-
– that would have been great. Trial and error was our major huddle.
Brendan: Then trying to sell to an uneducated audience, I imagine is –
Brendan: – another sticking point?
Leigh: Yes, it is and much easier to do it in summer, of course. With cocktails and also the fitness sectors as well, it’s easier to be a year-round product but education of people is a big thing. Trying to sell someone cold coffee if they think it’s just something you’ve made and sat in a fridge for a while and then giving it to someone, it’s [laughs] not an easy thing to sell off the bat.
Brendan: Right, to explain that that’s not what it is [laughs]
Leigh: Yes, exactly.
Brendan: Yes, sure. So you’ve been selling the cold brew for a few years now and you guys are in winter now, have you guys noticed an uptick in summer cold brew sales over the past couple years?
Leigh: It’s definitely more popular, especially on tap in summer periods. Packaged goods for us, it’s pretty level. I think that people use it for, once again, for fitness thing, a pre-workout type drink. Also, if they’re going on holidays, or camping, or whatnot, it’s easy to have good coffee in a bottle than it is to try to make it from scratch around a campfire, I guess. Yes, obviously, during summer, it’s much more popular.
Brendan: Yes, I would agree. So if all goes as planned for you guys, where do you see Beat Coffee going in the next few years?
Leigh: Well, we’ve been looking for a bricks-and-mortar place for a little while now. We try to find the perfect place that will suit the format that we’re looking to do. Particularly with things like this, more education for people out there and building a bit more of a community around our company, the endless search in encouraging other people to chase their dreams and their passions. Yes, it’s the only way is up for us at this point so it’s a fantastic journey we’ve been on and looking forward to keep on going, I guess.
Brendan: Right on and if you guys get that brick-and-mortar location, will you be DJ-ing there on the weekends?
Leigh: Probably during the closed hours, yes.
Brendan: Not selling any tickets?
Leigh: No, won’t sell any tickets. That’s a part of it, like a place where people can go and talk about and develop their passions. It’s like encouragement. Beat Coffee, my passion is coffee and music but there’s so much other stuff out there that people are passionate about.
Brendan: Sure. All right, wrapping up here, what’s your favorite way to enjoy a cold brew or favorite ways if you’ve got multiple?
Leigh: There’s millions of ways.
Brendan: So many.
Leigh: The easy ones are my favorite. During a hot day, cold brew straight on ice. It doesn’t get much more refreshing than that but I’m still a sucker for milk and sugar so cold brew or concentrate with a dash of milk and bit a simple syrup, that’s pretty damn tasty as far as I’m concerned.
Brendan: Sure [laughs] Right on, Leigh. Well, gosh, anything else you want to mention here or to discuss before we wrap this up?
Leigh: No, I think we’ve covered off everything. I have to talk to you after this about your brewing systems because once we got the bricks and mortar, we’d like to set up something a little bit more serious as well so some bigger brewing vessels.
Brendan: We’d be glad to help you out.
Brendan: Well, cool, if anybody wants to go find you guys online, where can they go to do that?
Leigh: We’re just beatcoffee.com.au or Beat Coffee Community on Facebook or beatcoffee on Instagram. Instagram is where we’re most active on the social media streams or you can just email me at [email protected]
Brendan: Right on. We’ll put all those links in the show notes. Leigh, I appreciate joining us today.
Leigh: Perfect, it’s been great, thank you.
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Brendan: All right, a big thanks to Lee for joining us today all the way from Australia. As I mentioned at the top of the show, this episode concludes our Australian Cold Brew Series. If you guys are listening and you think we need to talk to another Australian cold brew company, let us know or maybe you want us to explore another part of the world, maybe South America, maybe the UK. Let us know, shoot us the names of a couple cold brew companies in those areas and we’d be happy to try to put together another series or even just get one company on the show to talk cold brew.
I think this Australian series is winding down at the right time. Here in the States, we are getting to the end of summer. Down in Australia, they’re starting to get to the end of winter. So they’re about to get real busy and hopefully, start slinging a lot of cold brew down there. If you want to go back and hear any of the Australian Cold Brew Series that we did, you can find a listing of all those episodes by going to dripsanddraughts.com/aucoldbrew.
You’ll find a list of all the Australian cold brewers that we had on the show as well as the links to their episode, links to their website and links to some of their social media profiles. Make sure you go check that out and give each one of those companies a follow. Another thanks to Leigh Mellington from Beat Coffee for joining us today and let’s give one final thank you to all the Australian cold brewers who joined us in this Cold Brew Series. Filament Coffee, Rushmore Coffee, Bellerophon Cold brew, Mr. Bean Cold Brew, That Cold Stuff, and First Press Coffee.
Thank you all for helping make this Australian Cold Brew Series what it was. All right, that’s going to do it for today. I’m Brendan Hanson and we’ll see you again next week for another episode of the Drips and Draughts.
[00:31:50] [END OF AUDIO]