Gearing up to make cold brew coffee took about a year for King Bean Coffee Roasters in North Charleston.
"We saw a big need," says co-owner Katie Weinberger. "Our customers were asking for it, and if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it big."
King Bean primarily wholesales to restaurants. To meet customer demands for cold brew, King Bean spent a year building out a space for the cold brewery in their North Charleston warehouse.
To do it right, says Weinberger, special equipment was required to keep the beans chilled throughout the long brewing process.
While some iced coffee is basically a hot coffee chilled down with ice, real cold-brew is processed differently.
"The grounds are immersed in water for a long period of time, which is the brewing process," says Weinberger. "With cold brewing, different compounds come out, so it’s a different beverage than hot."
The beans are ground in a liquid-cooled grinder so the coffee never heats up, and cold brew takes about twice as much coffee to make, points out Weinberger.
But the results are worth it, she says. Cold brew coffee is less acidic than hot-brewed and way more caffeinated.
"It has a lot of caffeine," she says, with emphasis on a lot. "But it's more mellow and smooth. Ours has milk chocolate and subtle fruit notes to it, but it's like wine. We expect the coffee component to be changing as we get different beans in it."
The roaster is also offering a nitrogen-infused option, a.k.a. nitro coffee. "It cascades like Guinness (beer)," says Weinberger. "My cream-and-sugar coffee friend can drink it without anything in it."
King Bean has been rolling out the product via kegs to customers. Currently, you can find it on tap at WildFlour Pastry in West Ashley and downtown, and Weinberger expects bartenders will find a way to make cocktails from it.
At a recent event, they served a drink called No More Mr. Nice Chai made with chai vodka and cream — a sort of updated White Russian. They also have a recipe for cold Irish whiskey and are playing around with others.
The general public can purchase coffee and cold brew directly from the roaster in North Charleston at 3939 Dorchester Road. Howlers (half-growlers) run $18 for the first fill-up and $10 for refills.