Cody Blades and CJ Hoppe (above, left and right) don’t take vacations, more like coffee pilgrimages. They travel to check out Water Avenue Coffee in Portland or Handsome Roasters in L.A. They could have seen Powell’s Books or the Griffith Observatory, but likely by accident if they did. “We’ll be sitting at a roaster and think, there are mountains out there,” says Hoppe. “We should probably see them on the way to the next shop.”
The couple is now entering their second season of delivering cold brew coffee. Their Extraction Coffee Co. partners with local roasters — Spyhouse, Dogwood, Cafe Imports, among them — to select a new single-origin coffee each month. They produce an ultra-caffeinated concentrate intended to mix in equal parts with hot water, ice water, milk, or whatever (for instance, I’m thinking vodka and Bailey’s). Once delivered, it’s good for about two weeks in the fridge.
To get off the ground, a Kickstarter campaign netted them just over $3,000. Now anyone within 10 miles of the 494-694 loop can have a coffee-of-the-month delivered to their doorstep. Or customers can purchase a one-off bottle whenever they see fit — Extraction delivers twice a month.
Their ultimate goal is to open a coffee shop. But Blades, a law student, and Hoppe, a lab manager, decided on a delivery service as a way to develop relationships while still tending to their other commitments. “It’s definitely similar to milkman-style, which just makes us giddy,” Hoppe laughs. “Even if we don’t necessarily have a counter, we can deliver these bottles and meet our customers.”
Cold brewing coffee is, essentially, leaving grounds to steep at room temperature overnight. “We tried 30 or 40 different ways,” Hoppe recalls. “There’s so much that goes into it: the grind size, the concentration, water temperature, brewing times. This year, we’re playing with it a little more to be able to get the most out of each particular coffee.”
The process yields a very low-acid coffee, a jolt to the system that’s easy on the stomach. We sipped on an iced rendition of their Rwanda brew from Flamenco Organic in Northeast. It was gorgeous — slightly fruity and smooth as satin. Besides (obviously) drinking it, Blades recommends drizzling it over vanilla ice cream or using it to soak ladyfingers for tiramisu. She’s also heard of it being added to doughs for cakes and cookies. Homebrewers could add some to their carboy or to a finished pint of porter.
What’s remarkable is that many local roasters, even ones that make cold brew themselves, don’t necessarily see Extraction Coffee Co. as competition. Blades says the roasters have been very helpful. “They’re using blends: Bull Run has Toro, Dogwood has Zamboni,” she explains. “Our single-origin doesn’t taste the same. We support each other and you can still go buy cold brew at the stores.”
They sell 32-oz. bottles for $20 (plus a $10 bottle deposit for your first order). Or if you just want to get acquainted with their cold brew, they’re offering an 8-oz. taster for $8. We bristled at the prices, initially, until realizing the volume doubles when you dilute it. And considering a normal cold press in a coffee shop is about half ice by volume anyway, Extraction’s brew falls right in line with market price.
Looking forward, they hope to break into new markets, especially food trucks and farmers markets. Their first brew of the season will be from Bull Run, and they have all the roasters lined up for their 2014 deliveries. The first of two April deliveries is available to those who order on their website before March 30.