A New Kind of Brew

Second, perhaps, only to the meteoric rise in popularity of local micro and craft breweries is the proliferation of local coffee. Be it cafés, roasting or specialty brewing, coffee has never been more popular as an entrepreneurial endeavor in America. I’m especially excited about the local coffee scene that’s been brewing in the Triangle for the last few years.

While my interest has centered mostly around local coffee roasters1 and cafés, I’ve recently been turned on to ready-to-drink and concentrated bottled cold brews. My summer caffeine fix is predominantly sated by some sort of iced drink, so ready-made or quick concoction concentrates are perfect for my quick to hit cravings. Once I decided I was ready to take the cold brew plunge, I knew the first one I had to try was the offering from Slingshot Coffee Co2.

Slingshot isn’t necessarily available everywhere coffee is sold, but there are plenty of places around town where you can pick it up. I happened to be in a local Whole Foods to pick up a couple of bags of coffee beans, so I checked out the cold brew options. I was already $30 deep into my coffee budget with the beans so I had to choose between the concentrate and the ready-to-drink. Unsure of my ability to hold off my craving until I made it home, I opted for the ready-to-drink, which was also a bit cheaper.

I did, in fact, make it home before I cracked open the bottle. In fact, there was even time to pose for a few pictures before the first pour. Though I haven’t always been an ardent coffee drinker, I’ve always appreciated the aroma. It doesn’t matter if its coffee beans, grounds, or brewed coffee – I struggle to resist the smell of coffee and the cold brew is certainly no different. Though I rarely drink coffee black due to its somewhat bitter3 taste, I’ve read that cold brews are often brewed4 especially to maintain a smooth, rich flavor. I took a sip of the Slingshot after opening it and it certainly fit the bill. There was a sticker on the cap indicating the expected flavor of this particular batch – summery, with some hints of fruit. I’m not the most discerning coffee flavorist, but there did seem to be some berry-like bittersweet qualities, though not overpowering.

Still earning my coffee stripes, I grabbed a glass to throw in a trace amount of sugar, ice, and some milk. I added a few ounces of Slingshot and stirred to make a more familiar summer beverage with this new variant of the dominant ingredient. The result was certainly on par with the home brew method I usually employ. I wasn’t sure what to expect from bottled, cold brew coffee – probably something more along the lines of bottled tea. I found it much closer to the real thing than bottled tea5. I haven’t run the numbers, but I can’t imagine the pre-made bottle option is more cost-effective than home brewed; and distribution isn’t ubiquitous enough to make convenience a common consideration. However, I like that this option exists and it certainly offers up a nice alternative to the home brew process. I’m also intrigued by the recipes on Slingshot’s website which might help broaden my caffeine horizons into entirely new territory. Without a doubt, in this novice coffee drinker’s humble opinion, Slingshot cold brew really shines.

Additional Reading:
– Sola Coffee named one of the Best Coffee Shops in America by The Daily Meal
– Alex Grandos profiles Jubala Coffee for North Raleigh News
– A blog post from The New Yorker, “In the Land of Coffee Nerds”, mentions Counter Culture coffee.

  1. Counter Culture, Larry’s Beans, and Muddy Dog Roasting Co are my current favorites.
  2. I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that the allure of Slingshot is due predominantly to the fantastic logo / branding work by the husband and wife duo behind local design company Dapper Paper.
  3. Yes, even when brewed the right way.
  4. All the way down to selecting specific bean varieties that help retain these qualities.
  5. Slingshot just released Cascara, a bottled tea I haven’t yet tried.