Updated: Jan 1
There has been a growing shift in the coffee world, as many notable cafes or roasters have begun to develop their very own Cold Brew beverage. Although attempted by many, very few can execute consistency and on scale!
And then there is Station Cold Brew.
Station Cold Brew is Canada’s first coffee brewery. They use the ideals and practices of the craft beer scene to help not only develop products that their customers will love, but market themselves to those who have yet to see coffee as a ‘cool product’. But, how does Station make cold brew a ‘cool product’? They introduced their line of Nitro Cold Brew. Nitro Cold Brew coffee is normal Cold Brew coffee that is charged with nitrogen to give a rich, and smooth body accompanied by a creamy head. Think of Nitro Cold Brew as a draft beer like Guinness where the finish and flavour is smooth.
You may remember them from their appearance on Dragons Den where they absolutely slayed their pitch. If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to watch
One of Station’s founders and marketing expert Mitchell Stern invited us out to their brewery for a chat and tour of their facilities. The space is a coffee lovers haven as it bends itself as a coffee bar and brewery. Not only do you get hit with the aroma of fresh coffee when you first walk in, but you walk right up to their bar setup where you can get yourself four different Station beverages waiting for you on tap. This space is also seen as an innovation center for the Station teams as they will taste and test new products like their Cascara Iced Tea (which by the way is AMAZING).
After Mitchell took us for a tour of their brewery, we sat down over a couple of New Orleans Style Nitro Cold Brews we chatted more about the rapidly growing company.
HB: How did Station Cold Brew come to be?
MS: I think we have one of the coolest stories when it comes to how the company was formed. Steve (Founder and Owner Steve Ballantyne) was in New York in 2013 and found himself in love with the coffee culture. He basically was hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop to try everyone’s version of Cold Brew coffee. When he came home to Toronto, he realized that no one was really doing that here and he had an opportunity. At the time he was a coffee lover but didn’t really understand the science behind it so he put out a Kijiji ad to find a ‘Brewmaster’ who could join him on this journey. Steve set up a tasting challenge where over 15 people brought their cold brews for Steve to try. All except one, Mike (Founder and Brewmaster Mike Roy). Mike went with a different approach, rather than bring his own cold brew, he decided to evaluate everyone else’s Cold Brew. After the tasting challenge, Steve and Mike continued conversations and with Mike’s past cold brew expertise, the Steve’s choice was a no brainer. I joined a short while after as a consultant originally as I had worked for a marketing company and my portfolio and connections were in the beverage space.
HB: Amazing! Mike is the man! So, tell us, what makes Station Cold Brew beverages better than their competitors?
MS: What I can say is the we have the best Brewmaster in the game. Mike has worked extensively on the recipe to perfect it. He also acts as his own quality control and tries every batch before it is shipped out of the facility as he is very keen on ensuring that only the best products leave here. What makes our beverages special is that we don’t use the same roast in all our drinks. Each beverage uses a different roast from Reunion Island. For example, the New Orleans Style which we are drinking now is an Ethiopian and Brazilian blend and our Coconut cold brew uses beans from Peru. As mentioned before, Mike is very particular on the flavour and quality of our drinks so his methodology is that the different beverages to have unique flavours can’t use the same beans. Our goal is to compete with sugary sodas, energy drinks and “coffee based” drinks that are 300+ calories, 40 grams of sugar and 20 ingredients.
HB: For those who don’t know or are new to Cold Brew coffee. What is the process of making it?
MS: Cold Brewing is pretty simple and exactly as it sounds. We brew our coffee in cold water for about 18 hours and specifically in smaller batches. This guarantees us quality and consistency. By soaking the coffee beans in cold water, it’s what allows us to produce a coffee that is smooth, and naturally sweet, compared to a traditional iced coffee which lacks bitterness and acidity.
HB: Give us a rundown of your products
MS: We have four types of Nitro Cold Brew, starting with our New Orleans Style. This is our original Cold Brew and been with us since the beginning. It’s what true cold Brew coffee should taste like. It’s our signature recipe, a blend of Ethiopian and Brazilian Fair Trade Organic Coffee mixed with chicory root for a well-rounded chocolatey taste. We then have three flavoured Cold Brews; Organic Coconut, Organic Mocha and Organic Vanilla. The Organic Coconut has real coconut flavours and organic cane sugar which lends itself to a slightly sweet, and flavourful coffee. Our Mocha is just lights out. It’s smooth and creamy without having any dairy. It’s a mix of chocolate and coffee as we use a Honduras blend and add real organic chocolate flavours. The final one of our Nitro’s is the Organic Vanilla which probably seems unhealthy to a lot of people, but the crazy thing is that it is only 40 calories. We use a blend from Peru and add natural flavours for that sweetness. We also have our New Orleans Style Stubby. This is our Cold Brew which is not infused with Nitrogen and is my favourite. Finally, we have both a Cold Brew Concentrate and Brew-it-Yourself Bags so that folks who love our coffee and make it at home themselves.
HB: What is important for customers to know about your products?
MS: Our products are kosher, organic, certified vegan, gluten free, and non-GMO. We source and use fair trade coffee, oh…and our products still kick ass. It doesn’t hurt that our drinks are only 15-40 calories and max 5g of sugar either!
HB: So, we read that you source your beans from Reunion Island? Is that your only supplier?
MS: Yes, as of right now RI is our only supplier and we could not be happier. A lot of people think that they are only a coffee shop with two locations, but they are way more than just that. They are a roaster and wholesaler for coffee and teas. They have multiple different coffee roasts and a majority of them are Fairtrade organic. It’s been great working with them as they have a great team of very smart people over there that are trying to accomplish similar goals to us. They just launched a new product in collaboration with us. It is their very own Cold Brew tonic and they will be selling it at their cafes all summer long.
HB: It’s obvious that Station is looking to grow, can you tell us what next for Station?
MS: I don’t want to give too much away but what I will tell you is that we are going to be building the Station brand. We are looking into how we position Station in different spaces such as the cannabis. We are also looking to come out with some new products, one being the ***** (confidential). This would be a product that is different than what we offer today but using the same technology we have in our brewery. We love what we are doing now and producing now but we are ready to take the next step in our evolution.
HB: We are excited to watch Station grow and evolve so we will be keeping a close eye on you. Is there anything else you want people to know about Station?
MS: I think for us it is really important to let people know that we are grounded in our values and principles. We commit ourselves to source the best quality, certified organic beans even if it comes at a slightly higher price tag. For us we’d rather put out high quality coffee at a slightly higher price relative to our competitors because we are confident in how great our product is. We have a team here who are dedicated, and passionate to delivering great coffee to our customers. Station has been handcrafting products since 2014 and we focus on quality and convenience and we will never sacrifice flavour for function.
HB: Last question because we need to know. If you are at a cottage on a hot sunny summer day, are you grabbing a beer or a Station Nitro Cold Brew?
MS: Haha, to be honest with you I am grabbing a Station Nitro between my two beers!
Station Cold Brew is meticulously dedicated to their craft and ensure that every drop of coffee that leaves their facility meets the highest quality standards. It is their attention to detail that separates them from others in the cold brew space. We at Holey Brewed strongly encourage everyone to try out their products as we are confident that you will love it!
You can find cans of their Cold Brew at Whole Foods and Loblaws grocery stores, 7-Eleven gas stations, and Toronto coffee shops like Reunion Island, The Tampered Press and Cafe Novo. If you’d like a doughnut with your Cold Brew, then head down to Gloryhole Doughnuts.
Be sure to check them out on Instagram @stationcoldbrew
Mr. HB | Holey Brewed