Spiking Coffee Gives New York Bars a Fresh Buzz

Coffee shops, restaurants and bars around New York City are now spiking coffee drinks.  Customers are happy with the new concoctions and barista-bartenders are becoming inventive.

Kobrick Coffee Company is a coffee bean roaster that operates a retail shop in the Meatpacking District.  Besides the usual coffee drinks, the café serves “coffee cocktails” which are alcoholic drinks mixed with caffeine.  The Mexican Jumping Bean is a top-seller, and is made of espresso, tequila and liqueur.

SushiSamba, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in the West Village, serves an espresso martini made with Bacardi Black rum, spiced maple syrup and dark chocolate liquor.

Fair Weather Bushwick, a bistro in Brooklyn offers a Shochu Latte during brunch that’s made with shochu (a Japanese distilled beverage), espresso and hazelnut syrup.

Mother’s Ruin, a popular bar in NoLIta, serves a Coffee Cordial Boozy Slushy which is served frozen and made up of coffee, white rum, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Sweetleaf Coffee, a café located in Long Island City and Williamsburg, makes a Java Flip from Jamaican rum, bourbon, egg yolk, cream and coffee liqueur.  Cold brew coffee is condensed and raw sugar is added.

Sweetleaf’s coffee and cocktail service don’t overlap, with cocktails starting at 5PM.  Mr. Vincent Vee, an experienced beverage manager is quoted as saying “They’re both high-profit businesses, but they’re only high profit for a short period of the day.  So when you have them both behind the same doors, it can make a lot financial sense.”

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Want Tastier Coffee? Freeze Beans Before Grinding

Coffee freeze

Percolator, French press, AeroPress, espresso, pour over, vacuum pot, automatic brew, tin can: People go to great lengths for a good cup of coffee. But to achieve consistent flavor you may just need to chill your beans before grinding them. Colder beans produce smaller, more consistently sized particles when ground, yielding more flavor from less coffee, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

In busy cafes, temperature matters. As room temperatures vary and grinders heat up with use, the consistency of the resulting grind changes. That’s a problem, because water extracts flavor from smaller coffee grounds faster than bigger ones. An inconsistent grind means sour taste from the small grains, and a bitter one from the big, all at the same time. For a more flavor-driven, sour and sweet cup, baristas adjust grinder settings for finer particles throughout the day.

But Colonna and Smalls, a specialty coffee shop in Britain, used science instead. They got together with chemists at nearby University of Bath to see how temperature affected how coffee beans break. They started at room temperature and went down to that of liquid nitrogen (-321 degrees Fahrenheit). It turned out, the colder the bean, the more uniform particles it produced, and the more even the flavor.

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The Coffee Pendulum Swings Again

Rejoice! Coffee is good for you again; as usual, the tide has shifted and your favorite morning beverage is back on the table.  The World Health Organization has concluded that coffee does not pose a cancer risk, and a regular habit of drinking coffee might even have a positive health effect.

Coffee is no stranger to the spotlight–good or bad.  In 1991, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer listed coffee as a possible carcinogen based on “limited evidence” that coffee was associated with a higher risk of bladder cancer.  However, the past 25 years have changed the evidence in a new direction.  Researchers reviewed more than 500 studies on over 20 different types of cancer and concluded that coffee might actually help prevent against uterus and liver cancers, and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Consider replacing your pour-over with cold brew, though; research is also turning up some connection between consumption of very hot beverages and the risk of esophageal cancer.

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Cold Brew In An Ice Pop!

cold brew pop

Cold-brew coffee, emphasis on the cold, is what you get in this new ice pop from Brewla, a company whose other flavors are fruit based. The bar is a lightly sweetened mixture of the coffee and organic milk.

Brewla was founded by Daniel and Rebecca Dengrove, a brother and sister team with over 15 years of experience in food science and technology. The idea for Brewla Bars was born when the budding entrepreneur Daniel noticed an untapped market at the intersection between popular high-end juices and the boom in trendy frozen yogurt. A rising star in the beverage industry, Rebecca zeroed in on teas with health boosts. Although the concept was originally for a brick-and-mortar store, the siblings’ full-time jobs and cross-country residences created roadblocks, so Rebecca rented space in the industrial kitchen at her old graduate school, decorated a rolling freezer, and Brewla Bars began.

Brewla Barista, box of five, $5.99 at Union Market stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, brewlabars.com.

Starbucks and Anheuser-Busch Team Up

Tea Wall detail.JPGIn the beverage world, there are few names bigger than Starbucks and Anheuser-Busch. The two dominate any discussion of coffee or beer respectively, but they’re now partnering up to help capture the market of a third beverage – tea. Specifically, Starbucks is looking to begin selling their Teavana line of teas as ready-to-drink specialty bottles in grocery stores around the world. They decided to partner with Anheuser Busch to handle the bottling aspect of the operation, and if spokespeople for both companies are to be believed, there is plenty of revenue to go around.

Tea is currently a billion-dollar market in the US, and Teavana was Starbucks’ biggest acquisition ever when they bought it for $630 million in 2012. The original retail strategy for the brand, which involved revamping the Teavana tea bars around the country, didn’t live up to the “$90 billion global market opportunity” that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz originally predicted.

Starbucks’ new partnership and strategy represent a significant pivot to the ready-to-drink market. They expect to release the new line in over 300,000 US supermarkets and convenience stores by next year. The move is also a possible save for Anheuser-Busch, who have seen sales and production suffer in the wake of the craft beer movement.

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Fancy Coffee Has the South Bronx Talking

Formerly a deteriorating, poverty-stricken area, the South Bronx is now known for its hip-hop culture and its graffiti.  Last week, Birch Coffee opened shop on Hunts Point Avenue, a street characterized by auto shops, bodegas and cheap, variety stores.  It’s hard for Majora Carter to remember the last time Hunts Point had a spot that could serve both the community and its need for creativity.  She is a force of change in this part of New York City.

Ms. Carter collaborated on the café with entrepreneurs Jeremy Lyman and Paul Schlader, who have opened seven Birch shops in New York City.  And they are not the only ones.  Another coffee shop named Filtered Coffee opened a few months ago in Mott Haven, a neighborhood a few stops away on the No. 6 subway.  One of the business partners in Filtered is quoted as saying “Certain businesses come to fill a void in the community”.

Young people priced out of Manhattan and Brooklyn are now moving to the Bronx, regarded by some as an up-and-coming neighborhood.  Developer Keith Rubenstein is quoted as saying of Filtered partners Karen Paul and Aaron Baird, “They brought life to a place that was probably a little bit lifeless.”  New York restaurateurs may want to keep the South Bronx on their radars.

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Is Canned Cold Brew Coffee’s Fourth Wave?

Stumptown-Nitro-Cold-Brew-Canned-Coffee.jpgAccording to Todd Carmichael, founder of coffee chain and industry leader La Colombe, we’re about to witness the fourth wave of coffee consumption in America – and it will be bigger than any of the waves that came before. What are those waves, exactly, and what could possibly dwarf them?

Think of coffee’s first wave as the everyman brew – the reason people get nostalgic for diner drip and Folgers still has enough momentum to surpass all sales expectations. The second wave coincided with the growing popularity of espresso drinks, and the expansion of Starbucks. The third wave (and, we admit, our favorite so far) represented the growing popularity of small roasters treating coffee beans as real ingredients instead of a commodity. Many of the small roasters that represented this trend, like Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle, have since been bought out by larger players, but there are still newcomers who continue to expand coffee horizons with superior quality and innovative ideas. Enter the fourth wave, as Carmichael calls it – bottled (or canned) cold brew.

If your mind goes immediately to the current industry standard in ready to drink coffee – Starbucks bottled frappuccinos – you’re not alone. But Carmichael believes there is a huge opportunity gap between current levels of consumption and the possible market. “They’ve been working for 20 years to get it to $2 billion. Then you look to Mexico, which isn’t really a coffee-drinking country, and their [ready-to-drink] coffee is at $4.7 billion.” Carmichael is working on bridging that gap, with a variety of flavors introduced through channels ranging from local convenience stores to whole foods. One thing is for sure – he’s excited, and who can blame him? Great coffee in a can sounds like a win-win.

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