The cold has taken hold in Cincinnati, Ohio, and it has nothing to do with the weather. A new kiosk in downtown Cincy called Smooth Nitro Coffee has a 12-tap system dispensing a variety of cold coffees, all nitro, throughout the workweek.
The clean, efficient coffee kiosk inside the Huntington Bank Center office building offers at least five different coffee variations at a time, which customers can enjoy individually or mixed and matched. There are also non-dairy cold brew lattes on tap, and the remainder of the taps dispense a variety of lemonades, teas, and a chai latte. A batch brewer also keeps some hot coffee on offer, though the nitro is clearly the star of the show.
Smooth Nitro Coffee founder Daniel Thaler opened the kiosk about a month ago as an expansion of the business he started just over one year ago selling nitro coffee at markets and events by the cup, by the growler, and by the occasional keg to some breweries and restaurants. In the beginning, Thaler roasted the coffee himself on a 5-pound-capacity fluid bed roaster, using knowledge of the craft he’d accrued through a home-roasting hobby. Yet as demand for his cold brew outpaced his ability to roast its core ingredient, he turned to local roaster Urbana Cafe.
“I quickly realized that I shouldn’t be the roaster,” Thaler told Daily Coffee News. “I could do a good-enough job, but I’m an amateur that’s super-passionate about doing it. I wanted to find a professional who was super-passionate, who was sourcing beans the right way.”
Smooth Nitro coffees, both cold and hot, are now sourced and roasted by Urbana. The hot offering rotates based on whatever Urbana recommends, and though there is the potential for change in the cold brew depending on what’s available from season to season, for the most part Smooth prefers a certain single-origin coffee from Mexico, and the overall aim is for consistency.
“We have their name listed on the menu,” Thaler said of Smooth’s pride in sourcing all ingredients and products as locally as possible. “We try to work with local companies that are doing a really good, quality job. We definitely give them a shout-out.”
The company’s first brick-and-mortar location is directly off the popular downtown hangout area of Fountain Square. Thaler has no intention to bring roasting back in-house, but does intend to pursue growth in the wholesale market, selling kegs to area bars, breweries and restaurants. Within a year or two he hopes to parlay regional brand recognition into a canned RTD product line. Meanwhile if the kiosk proves particularly successful, Thaler is also open to the possibility of additional retail locations.