Cold Brew Coffee is staple of the urban crowd in the heat of the Summer. An architect friend of mine was visiting last week from New York City. We were sitting on the porch watching a Summer rainstorm pour down when a car stopped in the front yard. Out popped a dedicated Jenny Bonchak, rushing through the rain with two bottles in her hand. My friend was more excited than me about trying Jenny's new Slingshot cold brew coffee. "Everyone in New York drinks cold brewed coffee all day, every day," he said. We dug in immediately and the coffee was perfect with the heat of the thunderstorm. Slingshot Coffee arrives in Raleigh at the perfect time, as the temperatures climb over 100 degrees this weekend.
Jenny started working on the concept for Slingshot Coffee Co./Slingshot Cold Brew a year ago and it has just surfaced at Raleigh shops in the past few weeks. Slingshot is made in a little corner of the kitchen at Market Restaurant, which Jenny says is "a good fit because Chad's vision for the food at Market -- fresh, quality, locally-driven -- is similar to my vision for Slingshot. When I approached him about the idea of using his kitchen, he didn't even think twice."
Jenny and Chad have developed a great relationship at Market, which will be moving later this year and opening up a new restaurant and grocery on Person Street . "He's been so incredibly generous and supportive. Right now I'm getting in there whenever I can, but when I finally get into more of a rhythm, the actual process means heading into the kitchen after the restaurant closes on Saturday night, when I can set up the coffee to brew overnight. On Sunday, when the restaurant is closed, I go back to test each batch before bottling and getting orders ready for my wholesale customers," Jenny said.
The hand-crafted quality that goes into each bottle is really important to Jenny. She brews and bottles in super small batches using two ingredients — in-season, organic coffee beans roasted by Counter Culture Coffee; and filtered tap water from right here in Raleigh. The labels are applied by hand with a hand-written "brewed on" date and "coffee origin" on the label. Jenny grew up on a huge vegetable and fruit farm, so seasonality is important to her, too. The coffees used for Slingshot will change with fresh coffee harvests throughout the year. So what someone tastes in a bottle of Slingshot in June isn't what they'll taste in November, and so on throughout the year. Right now Slingshot uses a Colombian that has such a great juicy snap to it. She will be cupping a few new ones that are slated for availability in mid-July and will narrow those down to the one that will kick off the summer seasonal brew.
There are two versions of Slingshot coffee that you can currently purchase in Raleigh, Ready-to-Drink and Concentrate. Each bottle is 16 ounces, and can yield two and four servings respectively. The great thing about the Ready-to-Drink is just that you can drink it anywhere. The concentrate offers the option to make it at home by mixing one part water or milk to one part concentrate. This way, you can make it hot or cold. The concentrate has lots of different applications -- cooking, baking, etc. Bottles need to stay refrigerated and the cold brew tastes best within four weeks of the brewed-on date. Coffee has natural sediments and oils that can settle, so it's best to give it a good shake before drinking.
You can currently buy Slingshot Cofee at the following Raleigh shops:
Market Restaurant (by the glass)
Escazu Artisan Chocolates (by the glass, by the bottle -- ready-to-drink and concentrate)
Tasty Beverage Co. (by the bottle -- ready-to-drink)
Jubala Village Coffee (by the bottle -- ready-to-drink and concentrate) **as of 6/21/12
Bottle Revolution 9 ((by the bottle -- ready-to-drink)
Jenny is working to bring in more retailers in Raleigh, as well as adding Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro. She plans to hold free tasting events at current retailers. Jenny also talks about the idea of a bottle return program and is trying to figure out the logistics of that at the moment.
She continues, "I stinkin' adore Raleigh and I've just been so in awe of the response Slingshot has received so far -- in Raleigh and the Triangle in general. I feel so privileged to be among the incredible pool of small business owners here. To me, it's my responsibility to make sure that what I'm asking people to buy is the best product I can produce. I put every ounce of my being into every single bottle and that will never change. I love making Slingshot, drinking Slingshot and making it available for other people to love, too."
So beat the 105 heat this weekend with some Slingshot Coffee, a one-of-a-kind coffee company in Raleigh. We are sure to be drinking it all Summer long.
Photos courtesy of The Dapper Paper Co. who are Raleigh-based