Review: Fogdog “Hydrodynamic” Cold Brew Tea & Coffee
Covers Products: Sumatra Dark roast, Scarlet Red
Introduced at the 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show, Fogdog is Bay Area-based startup that is launching the industry’s first hydrodynamic cold brew coffee and tea.
What is hydrodynamic cold brew? Great question. It’s a patent-pending cold extraction process that, according to the company, preserves the natural aromas, flavors, and textures of cold brew coffee and tea while eliminating any unpleasant bitterness.
From our vantage point, we’re honestly not sure how this is any different from any other cold-brew out there. Many of the cold-brew companies that pitch us stress their “proprietary process” (although it’s generally about water quality, steep time, or something less fancy sounding than “hydrodynamic”) and how “their process” gets the best flavor and the least amount of bitterness. However, the differences in flavor between most of these products are, as we’ve cited in many other cold-brew coffee reviews, quite nuanced and not something that most consumers will notice or care about.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the case for Fogdog, too, despite its having a patent-pending process. There are two varieties, a coffee (Sumatra Dark Roast) and a tea (Scarlet Red Herbal Tea), and neither one is in the upper echelon of flavor in their respective category.
For the coffee, which is made using only coffee beans and water, there is a creaminess to the body that comes from their process (according to the copy on the bottle). While this is unique and enjoyable, the coffee itself has a slightly burnt note and the finish is actually somewhat bitter in comparison to the competition’s. At least for our palates, we wouldn’t make a sacrifice on flavor just for a textural improvement.
When it comes to the tea, the story is a bit different. Scarlet Red has a more complex list of ingredients, including water, hibiscus, orange peel, lemongrass, elderberries, apple pieces, rooibos orange, rooibos long cut, and stevia leaves. Unlike the coffee, which has a textural benefit from the cold-extraction process, this variety seems to gain a slightly more intense rooibos and hibiscus flavor from their process. While this part is good, we’re really not fond of the stevia flavor. If they could improve or eliminate this we’d find it to be a much more enjoyable product.
Finally, let’s take a look at the packaging and branding. The product uses a round 12 oz. plastic bottle that has a sleeve label that covers the entire bottle. There’s a white and light grey background for the tea while the coffee gets a darker grey backdrop. The branding is otherwise really minimalist, with somewhat plain looking text being the only thing that you’ll find on the label. When we hear the name “Fogdog” it says something that’s inviting and playful, but this feels technical and serious.
Ultimately, we’re left feeling as though Fogdog needs some focus and refinement. We think it’s going to be really hard to be a general “cold brew” company (as opposed to one that’s specifically coffee or tea) and the positioning of the brand and the overall flavor need to improve to stand up against their competition.