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Coffee shops in the city have been multiplying for the past decade or so, and now several entrepreneurs are hoping to lure java aficionados with new ways to enjoy the beverage.
Slingshot Coffee Company and Raleigh Coffee Company are starting small, renting corners of existing businesses to make their product. Raleigh Coffee will roast beans for customers to brew at home. Slingshot makes bottled cold-brew coffee using Counter Culture roasts from Durham.
For Raleigh Coffee owner Joe Bland, a hobby roasting beans turned into the perfect escape from a job in sales. On Dec. 1, hell start distributing beans from his new Raleigh Coffee Company roastery behind The Meat House on Falls of Neuse Road.
Where to find it
In Raleigh, Slingshot Coffee is sold at Whole Foods Market locations on Wade Avenue and Six Forks Road as well as Tasty Beverage Company downtown, Escazu Artisan Chocolates on North Blount Street and Bottle Revolution on Lake Boone Trail. Its also available at the companys location inside Oak City Cycling Project on Franklin Street. Ready-to-drink bottles start at $5 and bottles of concentrate run about $10. The website is slingshotcoffeecompany.com.
Beans from Raleigh Coffee Company will hit shelves Dec. 1 at The Meat House locations on Falls of Neuse Road and in Cary. A 12-ounce bag will cost about $12. The website is raleighcoffeecompany.com.
Rather than blend different types of beans, Im focusing on a single origin coffee, Bland said. Its almost a culinary art of experimenting with different beans.
Bland expects half his time will be spent selecting beans mostly from Africa and Central America and the other half roasting. His equipment takes about 15 minutes to roast a batch, and hell start by producing 600 to 700 pounds a month. He plans to offer four or five types of coffee at a time.
Smooth, sweet cup
Slingshot owner Jenny Bonchak is also a coffee curator of sorts. With the turn of each season, shell pick a new Counter Culture blend, hand-labeling the country of origin on each bottle. I want to meld whats available to me with what our palates want at that time of year, she said. Her fall brew, from Guatemala, is a full-bodied coffee with hints of dark chocolate and fruit.
Cold-brew coffee is a far cry from the iced java most people drink, which usually is just a chilled version of hot coffee. Bonchak brews just 2.5 gallons at a time, letting the grounds steep in a temperature-controlled cooler for 16 to 24 hours, depending on the type of bean.
Youre actually reducing a lot of the acidity in coffee, she said. What youre left with is a smooth, sweet cup.
Bonchak carries out the entire process herself from grinding the beans to packing the bottles in a tiny kitchen inside Oak City Cycle Project, a bike shop north of downtown. She opened there earlier this month, and its a step up from her previous workspace inside the kitchen of Market Restaurant. When she made her first batches in June, she came in when the eatery closed at 10:30 p.m., working as late as I could keep my eyes open, she said.
At the bike shop space, shell be able to hold special events and tastings. From 8 a.m. to noon Friday, Black [Coffee] Friday a tasting and canned food drive will offer an alternative to shopping or a jolt to help brave the crowds. I want this space to be very community-oriented, Bonchak said.
Important to drink good coffee
Raleigh Coffee Companys roastery wont be open to the public, but the beans will be sold up front at The Meat House. Bland plans to be out in the community often, though, offering samples, demonstrating proper brewing techniques and building buzz. He also wants to partner with breweries on coffee stouts and porters. At Slingshot, Bonchak has already been using her drink to make coffee cocktails, several of which are now sold at Capital Club 16 downtown.
Despite Raleighs proliferation of coffee shops, customers generally dont choose the roaster or type of beans. Bland and Bonchak both hope to educate people to appreciate quality coffees the kind that doesnt need to be diluted with cream and sugar.
Its so important that people understand why its important to drink good coffee, Bonchak said. Thats why I do it.