Legions of Portola Coffee Lab fans will no longer need to wait in line each morning for a cold brew. They can simply open their refrigerators.
OC's temple of caffeine has announced it will offer bottled iced coffee, a move that will expand the Portola empire. Co-founder/owner Jeff Duggan talks to us about the bold new project.
Why did you decide to go for it? Simply put, our cold brew coffee has become incredibly popular. It also lends itself to grab-n-go since it is already prepared for the customers when they arrive. Cold brewing coffee is a different phenomenon. It is more delicate of a process than brewing coffee with hot water. Extraction is different and as a result, bad tasting compound formations such as Quinic acid are mitigated. This means if properly stored, it actually has a shelf life. Thus putting it in a jar for people to take away and drink later makes perfect sense. We put just as much care into our cold brewed coffee as our hot brewed coffee. We use the same single-origin freshly roasted beans so what you are tasting is natural, unique, and refreshingly delicious in its cold form.
What were the challenges? The biggest challenge is more logistical than anything else. We have developed a system that will allow us to brew quality cold brew coffee in the quantities required for bottling. We still need to provide it by the cup for our customers coming in every day. So, in order to bottle, we not only have to ramp up production but also establish the means to properly store the inventory.
What methods do you use to ensure the coffee is up to Portola's standards? Luckily, we have a lot of research and development under our belt when it comes to properly brewing coffee with cold water. We use the same standards and instrumentation to measure and evaluate brew concentration as we do with our daily cold brew coffee. We then "cup" (sensory evaluation) the cold brew to make sure its flavor profile is consistent with what we brew in-store.
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Will the bottles be widely available? Initially, it will only be available locally. We want to make absolutely sure quality is maintained before we consider a wider distribution.
It will of course be available at our shops but we will certainly make it available at retail outlets in Orange County. I would like to also make it available in LA but we will proceed one step at a time and increase production only as it makes sense to maintain its quality integrity. We are in talks with a company that could assist with production and bottling but nothing has been formalized.
When can we get our hands on a bottle? The bottles are in print which takes about four weeks. As soon as we get the bottles in hand we will begin production. You should see it in our shop in about 4-6 weeks.