Last week Chameleon Cold-Brew unveiled a new website designed to increase consumer education and awareness about high quality cold brew coffee. The new cold-brew.org includes little mention of Chameleon; instead, content is focused on methods for premium sourcing, roasting and brewing of cold-brew coffee. The information is intended to help coffee drinkers “discern the best tasting and most authentic cold-brew coffee products on the market,” according to a company press release.
Chameleon co-founder and CEO Chris Campbell told BevNET that the company wanted to “elevate the conversation and take a leadership position in educating the consumer for ourselves and other brands that we believe are doing it right.”
Amid the proliferation of cold brew coffee and growing number of brands on the market, Campbell lamented “conflicting messages” from cold brew producers about what makes for a high quality product, particularly in terms of the brewing process.
“There’s people out there that claim to cold brew, and you’re talking about a one hour or less extraction,” he said. “While we all love that from a cost and efficiency standpoint, our belief is that’s too short. We’re doing 16 hours [of cold brewing]. People are doing it half-hour, one hour, an hour-and-a-half; those are probably very efficient producers, but in our view, that’s not true blue, sort of craft cold brew.”
Campbell hopes that in addition to educating consumers about quality benchmarks for cold brew coffee, the information on the website can be of some benefit to some competing brands.
“We wanted to talk about the beginning to the end [of the process],” Campbell said. “If you’re a small producer and you’re coming into this market and you want to enter the fray, we would encourage you to do it this way.”
Although cold-brew.org is owned and operated by Chameleon, Campbell said that the company is open to partnership with other cold brew producers as a way to add new content and increase consumer education about the premium coffee drinks. Moreover, it’s possible that the website could be a launching pad for a cold brew coffee trade association.
“It’s certainly something we’ve thought about,” he said. “Obviously, you look at what’s happening in kombucha and [producers’] attempt to do that. Our appetite for shepherding that might be a little limited simply because you’re talking about a very diverse and broad set of people with unique perspectives, and managing that could be difficult. But what we would love to see over time is a benchmark set, that if you’re buying a cold brewed product, you know there’s some minimal set of standards that have been met in order to put that kind of a label on it.”
Asked if the launch of cold-brew.org was tied to the impending rollout of Starbucks’ bottled cold brew product, Campbell said that Chameleon acquired the cold-brew.org domain and had plans to introduce an education-focused website “before we ever heard about that.”
“This came out of conversations internally last fall,” he said. “Competitors are coming to the market, some good, some bad. We’ve invested five-and-a-half to six years, a lot of blood, sweat and tears setting a standard that makes for a product that’s expensive and difficult to produce, but we believe will yield genuine flavor as well as health benefits. And we don’t want to sacrifice that; we don’t want to see that getting polluted over time. We’re happy to welcome competition and other producers that want to ride the wave, but are ‘doing it right.’ When we get frustrated is when people cut corners, and we can see that potentially coming.”