The horses in the race to put RTD nitro cold brew in grocery and café displays thus far come almost exclusively from the coffee segment, with specialty purveyors including Cuvee Coffee and Stumptown Coffee Roasters establishing pole positions and opening the gates to a number of coffee competitors big and small with access to roasting, brewing and bottling/canning equipment.
The latest entry into this rapidly expanding field is not a coffee company, per se. Califia Farms, the 6-year-old California-based company that sells a number of plant-based food products through its national distribution networks — including nut milks, juices and even an extensive line of flavored and nut-milk-enhanced cold brew products — introduced an aluminum bottled nitro coffee line late last month.
The coffee-with-nut-milk-based line includes a latte, a mocha, and a chickory-infused New Orleans, all of which are dairy-free, GMO-free, soy-free and carrageenan-free. The company said the milk for the coffee drinks contains an almond-macadamia blend that takes well to Califia’s proprietary nitrogenation process.
Califia Farms representative Brian Lovejoy said development of the nitro cold brew products began last October, with refinement of the nut milk nitrogen-injection process beginning in January and coffee and blending development beginning a month later.
“Roasting specifically for cold brewing is a fairly new and unexplored field. We’ve sample-roasted many dozens of blends at various roasts to find the right profile for Califia Nitro Cold Brew,” Lovejoy told Daily Coffee News, adding that the blend ultimately consisted of coffees from Colombia (50 percent), Guatemala (25 percent) and Costa Rica (25 percent). “We are going for balanced, medium body, tangy brightness and complexity — somewhere between cinnamon and city roast.”
Nitrogenation, too, played a role in the development of the coffee blend. “We took into account the fact that the infusion of nitrogen creates a completely different experience,” Lovejoy said. “Because it creates a microfoam, the texture and mouthfeel are lightened. This adds a perception of sweetness to the blend of coffee and nutmilks.”
Califia Farms said it began shipping the nitro products nationwide earlier this month.