Something new is brewing at Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
Last week the Portland, Ore.-based brand launched a ready-to-drink sparkling cold brew coffee in 12 oz. cans at its retail cafes nationwide. The beverage, available in Original, Ginger Citrus and Honey Lemon varieties, will begin rolling out to select retailers in the specialty and natural channels starting in March.
The product marks the first time a ready-to-drink innovation was developed from on-premise experimentation at the company’s cafes. In an interview with BevNET, Josh Groff, vice president of marketing at Stumptown, said that the offering emerged after baristas at the company’s New Orleans location began testing ideas for a new signature drink that reflected the personality of the city.
“If it’s 90 degrees with 100 percent humidity, you probably don’t always feel like a hot coffee, and we wanted to have options other than just cold brew on draft,” said Groff.
The resulting drinks, made from blending soda water with cold brew concentrate, ranged from a coffee-spiked mint julep called the “Endless Summer” and the “Duane Sorenson,” named after Stumptown’s founder, which Groff compared to an Arnold Palmer made with cold brew.
“This just felt like the Big Easy with mixed drinks and cocktails,” he said.
After a positive response from customers in New Orleans, Stumptown introduced the sparkling cold brew to all its cafes last summer. At the same time, Groff said the company’s innovation team was developing it as an RTD product, testing between 40 and 50 different formulations and flavor profiles, including some cola-style varieties that ultimately didn’t make the cut.
“As we kind of just paired them down and did a lot of testing and in terms of being most approachable, the honey lemon and ginger citrus were widely the favorites across the board,” Groff said, noting that the bright flavors and carbonation, along with less calories and about half the caffeine of Stumptown’s original cold brew coffee, made the sparkling version an appealing choice for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
The Original variety is made with carbonated cold brew, 23 grams of cane sugar and a touch of lemon. Ginger Citrus also has 23 grams of sugar, while Honey Lemon is made with local honey and has 24 grams. Each contains around 100 calories.
As evidenced by the strong response to the unique drinks created at the New Orleans cafe, Stumptown recognizes sparkling cold brew’s potential for broader use occasions. Groff said that, in addition to working with select bars and mixologists in Portland to integrate the drink into their cocktail programs, the company is throwing a “mix-off” event where bartenders from around the city will compete Thunderdome-style to make the best cold brew cocktails.
Groff said the company has no immediate plans to integrate sparkling cold brew into its on-tap offerings. However, it will be available at all third-party on-premise cafes that are using Stumptown coffee beans and cold brew on draft.
Groff also mentioned that Stumptown’s entire cold brew line was in the midst of a package redesign that should be unveiled within the next three to six months. Calling it an “evolution” of the brand’s existing aesthetic that will vary by product, he said it would reflect the overall growth of the cold brew category in the years since Stumptown debuted.
“We were one of the first people to bring cold brew to market and we were really excited about that back then, but it was such a new category that the branding was really reflective of growing awareness of the category,” Groff said. “We wanted to be more in line with now we don’t need to be screaming cold brew as much. We aren’t building the category –we are shifting more toward building Stumptown as the premium player within the category.”