A new coffee company has wheeled into town, bringing with it ready-to-drink cold brew on tap. Brought to life by Kelly McKenzie, Cold Brew Bike is the first of its kind to hit the streets of Vancouver.
We sat down with McKenzie to find out more about him and his coffee cart locomotive. Here’s what he had to say.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company Cold Brew Bike
I grew up with an active lifestyle on the North Shore in Vancouver. I’m happiest surrounded by green and cherish the beauty our city has to offer, often from a bicycle. I love natural and delicious foods, coffee being one of them. I created my company, Green Coast Craft Coffee, which offers high quality coffee with minimal environmental impact. This was how the “cold brew bike” became a reality.
Where did your inspiration for your mobile coffee shop business come from? Why coffee? Why the bike?
Being a coffee lover I attended the Specialty Coffee Association of America Exposition in Seattle. I sampled a nitro-tapped cold brew and was instantly hooked! I couldn’t believe what I was drinking had only two ingredients, coffee and water. My love for cycling and the minimal carbon footprint it produces helped me realize that Vancouver needed a cold brew bike!
Who built the bike?
I sourced out a few options but found that a company in Portland, Oregon, Icicle Tricycles, made just what I had in mind. After about 60 emails and several phone calls the custom design was set, the bike was built and I had an excuse to visit Portland. The bike is actually a tricycle and the box is handmade from western red cedar. After taking it apart and making some final modifications it was ready for the streets!
Your cart serves ready-to-drink cold brew, could you explain to those who are new to the cold brew scene what cold brew is exactly?
Our cold brew coffee is steeped in cold water for up to 24 hours before being filtered. This process produces a coffee concentrate, careful dilution results in a smooth, sweet and delicious cold brew that will stay fresh for up to two weeks when stored properly. Cold Brew is 70% less acidic than regular coffee, much easier on your stomach and teeth. Additionally this type of extraction pulls a unique taste profile from the bean often characterizing the sweet, nutty and chocolatey nuances of the coffee variety.
Cold brew is often served on tap, indeed, your cart has two, why are these taps used and what to they do to the brew?
Often I’ll offer two different single origin varieties with distinct taste profiles and in the evenings a decaffeinated option. The two taps on the bike are both stout taps meant to agitate the brew as it leaves the spigot. After the cold brew is kegged and chilled I infuse it with nitrogen gas. This combination results in a smooth and frothy pour, similar to a Guinness beer. The nitrogen aerates the coffee leaving you with a creamy mouth-feel but without the cream. So now you know what’s sweet and creamy but only five calories.
Who is currently supplying your cold brew, and what varieties of coffee are you featuring?
I source my coffee from Elysian Coffee Roasters in Vancouver. I’m a bit biased, but they create the best cold brew I’ve ever tasted and I’m proud to serve their coffee. I’m a huge coffee enthusiast so the next step for me is to brew my own and then on to roasting as well. I’m a believer in serving the highest quality product you can source and Elysian is at the top of their game, supplying several single origin specialty coffee varieties from around the world and of course it’s all freshly roasted at their Vancouver roastery.
You’re on a bike selling cold brew in the summer. How do you control the temperature?
The cold brew bike’s cedar box is heavily insulated and I keep the kegs cold with lots of ice and sometimes dry ice. Internal temperatures are monitored frequently and to ensure the coffee doesn’t go warm, I sample the coffee when business is slow, it’s a tough job!
How much does a cup of your cold brew cost and where can people find you?
I have special rates for events and catering, however, I charge $4.50 a cup, including tax. I accept cash, all credit cards, debit, Bitcoin and I love to barter! I also offer growlers for $3 and refills for $12.
I’m often pedalling down a seawall or parked at a market or festival. Currently I’m attending The Main Street Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays, Royal City Farmers’ Market on alternate Thursdays and The Shipyards Night Market in North Vancouver on Fridays. Come on down and have a coffee and a conversation, I’d love to meet you!