As David, Tod and I of Harpoon Cold Brew just launch our new Ready to Drink Cold Brew after a Winter of intense re-building there’s a pang of fear that emerges.
I imagine it’s the same fear that emerges within a warrior who goes to battle. For the warrior the only way to run forth is to conquer that fear; with the belief of Valhalla, or an afterlife or whatever it is to make him run. It’s the only way to run towards death.
For us, the thoughts that conquer our fears are that of a proven category in distant lands.
In the States, Cold Brew Coffee is a multi-million dollar beverage category. 20x brands spread on the shelves. It’s a fast growing super star in Australia too. And in Japan, even Coke owns a cold brew brand, because drinking iced black coffee is so normal there.
Part of reason for the success of cold brew as a beverage is it’s cleanliness. No sugar, no calories, nothing artificial, sophisticated taste. No other beverage has all four of these traits (with the exceptions of some crafted iced teas).
Rationally, this is a far less risky proposition than creating something without a proven trend. But as dedicated makers of cold brew coffee, we are sensitive to the trend of cold brew coffee in NZ. While we actively look at foreign markets and try our best for that to happen here we are acutely aware that it might not happen. Consider that point again:
It Might. Not. Happen.
1. Our white coffees are relatively good.
~95% of NZ drinks hot, milky coffee. Cold, black coffee is too foreign for them. In the States they’re used to drinking “coffee” that is, hot filtered coffee, and you add cream and sugar to that to make it palatable. So it’s relatively easy for Americans to understand that cold brew is the alternative – you don’t need cream and sugar if you brew it cold. Why drink cold brew when our flat whites are so good?
2. Our weather is not as distinctly hot.
Australia too, has an excellent standard of espresso based milky coffee but they also have very hot, long summers and a large enough population to sustain a dedicated cold brew business wanting to grow. NZ Summers rain and in some parts you’re lucky to even show your T shirt. Why drink cold brew when it’s not even hot outside?
3. Third Wave Coffee is still relatively new.
Cold brew is an extension of specialty coffee. It’s a brew method which highlights more intricate, subtle flavour from the coffee. Because of this cold brew knowledge and acceptance is directly related to the saturation of third wave coffee. In Wellington this is more prevalent, and so too are our sales. In Auckland, not as much. Or perhaps as much, but less condensed. I would suggest at a hunch that there’s a trend: the greater knowledge of specialty coffee, the greater acceptance of cold brew. Why drink cold brew when you’ve never tried specialty coffee?
Why then for us, with these fears bubbling through us, are we a company dedicated to a craft that might not happen? Why do we continue to trade sweat, tears and all our money for this marginal possibility of an opportunity?
Because it’s fucking cool.
The new Harpoon 330ml Ready to Drink Cold Brew.
Rolling into stores this month.