What do you do when you have nearly a decade of experience in specialty coffee and a room full of brewing equipment? Well, if you're the guys behind Sidekick Cold Brew, you start making cold brew coffee in kegs.
The Tempe-based company launched late last year and comes from a team of familiar faces from the local coffee and beer scenes including Jason Calhoon, David Arnce, and Dylan DeMiguel — as in, the same folks behind the soon-to-open The Shop Beer Company. In fact, it's the beer company that led the guys to start making kegged cold brew, which requires much of the same equipment needed to make beer.
"The beautiful thing about us is we have all the equipment," says Arnce, standing in the brewery/coffee company's still-under-construction production floor.
Which isn't to say they don't know what they're doing. The Sidekick team says they began playing with the idea of putting cold brew coffee in kegs about four years ago. It took them years to perfect the recipe, tweaking everything from the grind size to the temperature of the water, until they figured out how to make what they deem a quality product. Since making cold brew is a fairly straightforward process requiring just two ingredients (water and coffee), even the slightest fluctuation in brewing conditions can have a big impact on the final product.
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And that's where the fancy brewing equipment comes in. According to the Sidekick guys, the beer brewing equipment lets them eliminate the possibility of outside factors changing the quality of their cold brew from batch to batch. For example, the tanks they use to steep their cold brew can be temperature-controlled thanks to a very large, very expensive machine they already had on-site since it's necessary to make beer. As a result, their cold brew will be steeping at the exact temperature they want whether it's 120 or 20 degrees outside.
Sidekick sources its beans from Tucson-based Presta Coffee Roasters and is using only washed coffees. Though the specific beans will rotate seasonally, the team says they aim to stick to a similar flavor profile in order to maintain consistency.
Eventually, Sidekick would like to get their cold brew into cans (and it's not an impossible feat since eventually they'd also like to can beer), but for now the product is limited to kegs. You can find Sidekick Cold Brew on tap at all four Snooze locations in the Valley.